People of color have long lamented the lack of representation in films and on television.
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In recent years, Hollywood has tried to be more inclusive and feature more people of color, but we still have a long way to go! Recently, a little boy from New York City reminded us all why it’s so important to show a diverse array of people in media.
Two-year-old Kenzo Brooks was watching the Disney film “Encanto” over the Christmas holiday when his parents noticed him staring intently at the screen. Parents Keith Brooks and Kaheisha Brand recall that their son became entranced by the character of Antonio, whose dark skin and mop of curls made him a dead ringer for their own little boy. Keith said they were taken aback when they realized Kenzo had found his doppelgÃ¤nger in a Disney movie!
“I said, ‘Does he notice this looks like him?'” Keith remembered. “And just to see his reaction afterwards as he sat down on the floor and just tuned in as you can see in that video – he just also clapped. And that photo you saw where he’s standing next to the character, Antonio, it was just extremely like off guard like we caught it and we captured that moment and it was amazing.”
Kaheisha snapped a photo of Kenzo standing in front of their TV screen, sharing it on Instagram with the hashtag #RepresentationMatters. The reaction was swift – the photo quickly went viral, and the hashtag started trending worldwide.
“It feels incredible to be seen! Thank you, Disney!” wrote on Twitter user. Others had similar thoughts about seeing themselves in characters of all ethnicities.
We watched @EncantoMovie as a family last night and my brother was SO excited when he saw Pepa because he saw someone who looks like him: a fair-skinned, red-haired, green-eyed Latine person. Just another reminder that #RepresentationMatters pic.twitter.com/6dBHhQyaYq– jade (@Jadenhaley) January 10, 2022
#RepresentationMatters– Nadine Drew (@nadine_drew) January 8, 2022
When girls and boys of all colors, creeds, cultures and backgrounds see themselves in others, they’re inspired to dream big and achieve great things. If you can see it, you can be it. Thanks, #Disney. pic.twitter.com/de47xLWcjf
Kaheisha was thrilled by the reaction and hopes it inspires more conversations about topics that can feel uncomfortable.
“It means the world to me, again, I didn’t have the same experience growing up,” she said. “I do believe there is power in representation and it does empower young black and brown children.”
“It made me feel emotional to know that my son was able to see this and have that experience,” Keith agreed. “And for so many other Black and brown boys and girls to be able to have that same experience.”
Kenzo and his family are now planning a 3-night adventure at Disney World after “Good Morning America” surprised them with the trip on live television! We hope they have a wonderful time, and we’re sure there will be a few more viewings of “Encanto” in this family’s future.
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