The importance of media representation cannot be overstated. When tales feature people of many colors and ethnicities, all viewers have the opportunity to feel seen. Encanto, a Disney animated film about the amazing Madridgal family in Colombia, has provided a fresh method for children to experience the power of representation. Look no further than the big smile of a 2-year-old called Kenzo to see why it matters so much. He was pleased when he saw Encanto’s Antonio character on the TV and discovered the child looked just like him.
Kaheisha Brand, Kenzo’s mother, took a few shots of him with Antonio. They have the same dark complexion and curly hair. Kenzo couldn’t take his eyes off Antonio once he saw him. “He was drawn to the picture of Antonio right away,” Brand remarked. “It just made my heart smile because the likeness between him and Antonio led me to assume he felt he was seeing himself.”
“I felt it was really powerful to be able to see the people of Colombia and the diverse skin complexions they had, and to be able to see oneself in other parts of the globe that you weren’t necessarily aware of,” Brand continued. “And I believed Encanto was the first picture that dealt with Afro Latinas, Latinos, and Colombia in any way.”
On Antonio’s Instagram account, @katchingupwithkenzo, Brand shared photographs of Kenzo transfixed on him. She sees the post’s virality as proof that it struck a chord with others. “I believe it made me and us feel like there were so many others that mirrored the same thoughts that we had in that moment when our child was seen,” she says.
When 2-year-old Kenzo watched Antonio in the Disney animated film Encanto, he was overjoyed to see himself on the big screen.
His mother, Kaheisha Brand, posted the images on the internet, where they quickly went viral. His delight was shared by others who felt underrepresented in television and movies.
Others shared photographs in which they (or someone else) discovered they look a lot like another non-white animation character.