Charise Castro Smith brings Latin experience to ‘Encanto’ | National News

NEW YORK (AP) — Charise Castro Smith, the first Latino woman to co-direct a Walt Disney Animation Studios movie, admits that she has felt terrified at times. But when the chance to work on “Encanto” came around, she had no doubts.

“I said, ‘I have to do this. I have to,’” Castro Smith said in an interview with The Associated Press. She joined the project as a writer and had never been in a directing role.

Castro Smith, who has a young daughter, said “it means the world to me for little brown kids everywhere to get to see themselves and to see themselves represented in a positive way and feel seen.”

“Encanto,” which she co-directs with Jared Bush and Byron Howard, is set in Colombia — the land of magical realism — and follows Mirabel Madrigal, a teenage girl dealing with the frustration of being the only member of her family without magical powers. It opens in theaters Nov. 24.

Castro Smith and Bush also share writing credits with Lin-Manuel Miranda, who created original songs for the film. The cast, led by Argentine American actor Stephanie Beatriz (“Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” “In The Heights”), includes Diane Guerrero, John Leguizamo, Wilmer Valderrama and Colombian Angie Cepeda.

“Encanto” is undoubtedly a big step for Castro Smith, who started as a playwright and has credits as a writer for “Devious Maids.” She was also a producer and writer for ”The Haunting of Hill House” and “The Exorcist.”

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