Best known for her role as Meadow in The Sopranos, Jamie Lynn-Sigler will star in a very different TV series this December. As the voice of Disney’s first Jewish princess, she’ll make an appearance in a Hanukkah-themed episode of Elena of Avalor and next year Elena’s royal coronation special. Walt Disney Animation’s announcement was met with critique from those who believed Disney’s founder, Walt Disney, held anti-Semitic views. Still, most viewers are happy to hear about the diverse role played by a character, yet to be named, who will be visiting from a “Latino Jewish kingdom.” As a Jewish woman myself, it would have been inspiring having her as a role model to look up to.
“I am so excited to voice Disney’s first Jewish princess,” the actress tweeted earlier this week. Many recalled fond memories on the Twitter thread of the Rugrats Hanukkah special, which also put the underrated Jewish holiday on the map. One commentator pointed out a Phineas and Ferb episode that featured a Jewish-Mexican cultural festival. Sarah Silverman, who voiced princess Vanellope von Schweetz in Disney’s Wreck-it Ralph, claimed that her character was Jewish. “Not first, but welcome to the family Jamie,” Rich Moore, one of the movie’s directors chimed in. But, as far as animation goes, there’s always more room for diversity.
Lynn-Sigler has a personal connection to the role as a Jewish convert and the daughter of a Jewish father and Cuban mother. “I now have a greater understanding and motivation about preserving my Jewishness,” she told The Jerusalem Post after she visited Israel on a Birthright trip in 2008. Rachel Ruderman, a writer on the series, tweeted: “…[email protected] knocks the role out of the park (wait ’till you hear her song!)….”
If the actress’s Disney character turns out to be anything like Meadow, we can expect a fierce woman who can stick up for herself if given the opportunity. Bring on the latkes, dreidels, and piles of presents.
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