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At the Los Angeles premiere of Dora and the Lost City of Gold, the Nickelodeon favorite made her live-action film debut and brought her Latino community along for the ride.
The film’s stars — including Michael Peña, Eva Longoria, Benicio Del Toro, Danny Trejo, Eugenio Derbez and Isabela Moner — filed down the red carpet at Regal Cinemas L.A. on Sunday. The stars were just a handful of the all-Latino cast who populated the movie’s live-action take on Dora’s world.
Longoria, who plays Dora’s mother, Elena, told The Hollywood Reporter that being part of an all-Latino cast made sense for the movie and for the source material.
“If you think about Dora being Latina, you automatically get to populate her world with Latinos,” Longoria told THR. “There was no forcing or checking the box of diversity if you represent Dora and her natural culture.”
Ensuring authentic representation of Dora’s community was an important aspect of extending her impact to the big screen, director James Bobin said. He noted that for a number of girls and Latino children, it was the first time they saw themselves truly represented onscreen, so bringing that impact to the theaters was significant to him.
“Being part of the movie, of quite a good size, and having the lead character be a 16-year-old Latina, it’s fantastic and I’m really proud to have done that,” he said.
The film’s producer, Kristin Burr, also noted that truthfulness to the story was a cornerstone for the project. This push for authenticity was one of the factors that persuaded a number of stars, including Derbez, to sign on in the first place.
Derbez, who takes on the role of explorer Alejandro Gutierrez, revealed that he signed onto the project after learning it would feature an all-Latino cast. Additionally, the project’s focus on a character whom he deems a “Latina superhero” and positive portrayals for the community also brought him on board.
“I always wanted to change the image of Latinos in Hollywood because they’re always portraying us as criminals and drug lords,” he told THR.
Similarly, Peña, who stars as the heroine’s father, said that Dora and the Lost City of Gold would be his first time starring in a big-budget, Latin-led project. He also noted that projects like the August film is a step toward normalizing authentic stories and casting in Hollywood.
Though Dora and the Lost City of Gold adds to the year’s list of live-action films inspired by previous material, what sets it apart from other projects is its focus on a strong, young Latina, Burr said.
Moner, who plays the renown explorer Dora, said that taking on the beloved animated character’s courageous aspects didn’t feel forced and allowed her to highlighted a different kind of female bravery.
“Whenever people think that a woman needs to be strong, they think that she has no emotions, is super serious, but Dora loves pink, she wears orange shorts, she loves dancing to Gloria Estefan, she’s super girly,” she said. “It’s important to break up the stereotype that women have to act like men in order to be strong.”
Dora and the Lost City of Gold hits theaters Aug. 9.
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