We all grew up watching iconic Disney films from The Lion King to Mulan or Cinderella. On the cusp of change and enhanced inclusivity in the industry, the entertainment powerhouse prepares to release a historic new animated film entitled Encanto, starring a full Hispanic cast that centers around a young Colombian girl who struggles to find her magical powers. Starring alongside actors like Wilmer Valderrama, Stephanie Beatriz and Diane Guerrero, Jessica Darrow (@jessdarrow_) gives us an inside look at the enchanting story of protagonist Mirabel Madrigal, highlighting Colombian culture through her captivating magical exploration.
Emanuel Ungaro Paris suit, ungaro.com; Sally Lapointe bralette, shoplapointe.com; Alexander McQueen heels, alexandermcqueen.com; Jennifer Fisher jewelry, jenniferfisherjewelry.com. PHOTO BY ZACH ALSTON; STYLED BY MACY LONCAR; HAIR BY SKY KIM AT SERGE NORMANT AT JOHN FRIEDA; MAKEUP BY ANGEL GABRIEL FOR CHANEL BEAUTY
What was it like working on a Disney movie that features a female Colombian protagonist?
Why is this so significant? It’s freaking incredible! I am so honored to be a part of such an important story. I’m a Latina woman who has been obsessed with Disney films since my childhood, and it brings me immense joy to be a part of a project that will resonate with my community. My younger self would’ve loved to have met more characters whose lives felt closer to mine, so to be playing a role that I know will touch someone in that way feels super significant.
What was the best part of filming this movie?
My favorite part about filming was being able to sing lyrics written by the one and only Lin-Manuel Miranda! I’ve been singing his songs in the mirror since I was 14, so being able to work with him on music written for me by him was kind of an out-of-body experience.
PHOTO BY ZACH ALSTON; STYLED BY MACY LONCAR; HAIR BY SKY KIM AT SERGE NORMANT AT JOHN FRIEDA; MAKEUP BY ANGEL GABRIEL FOR CHANEL BEAUTY
What was it like working with your co-stars?
Since COVID safety was a high priority on this production, all of my recording sessions took place in New York while the rest of the crew worked with me over Zoom from different parts of the country. When we were all together and able to collaborate as a team, I felt so artistically alive with a huge sense of gratitude to be able to connect safely together. Also, Jared Bush and Byron Howard are some of the funniest dudes I’ve ever met, and I’ve never laughed more on Zoom in my life than when working with them.
What are your acting bucket list goals?
I am now my own character in a Disney film, so that’s a major one crossed off. Other goals on my list are to work with Bryan Cranston and Issa Rae (individually or at the same time—either works), star in my own TV series and to work on a project that takes me across the globe.
Who or what inspires you?
I have an incredible support system of family and friends that inspire me constantly. Also, working on Encanto has reminded me of how lucky I am to be a vessel for storytelling and a voice for people who may not typically have the opportunity to be heard. This opportunity will always continue to inspire my art.
Photography by: Photography Courtesy of Zach Alston