The Personal Story Behind Owl House's Magical New Disney Heroine

Image: Disney

Disney’s latest animated series Owl House is a fantasy filled with powerful spells, dangerous monsters and luscious backgrounds inspired by Medieval art. At the centre is Luz, a young Latinx woman who finds herself in a strange world of magic and mystery. Creator Dana Terrace said she named the character after her real-life roommate, Luz, who agreed to it on one condition.

“She said, ‘Yes, but you have to make her Dominican,’” Terrace told Gizmodo.

Terrace stopped by Gizmodo's studio at New York Comic Con, alongside stars Sarah-Nicole Robles (Luz) and Alex Hirsch (King) — otherwise known as the creator of Gravity Falls — to tell us more about the new horror-comedy debuting on Disney XD in January 2020.

We asked what made Terrace decide to centre Owl House around a Latinx protagonist, given how European-inspired fantasy sagas tend to unfairly skew toward white characters. She said the character came to life through conversations with her roommate, Luz, who now works as a story artist and consultant on Owl House.

Making the character Latinx — specifically Dominican-American — was her roommate’s idea. One that Terrace immediately loved.

“When I was creating the show and creating these characters, we would always bounce stories of each other about what dorks we were in high school and how we would always... when we were super little look for portals to other worlds to avoid doing homework,” Terrace said. “When the time came to finalise this character I asked Luz if I could name the character after her. And she said, ‘Yes, but you have to make her Dominican.’ I was like, ‘Oh yes, of course.’”

Robles, who plays Luz on the show, called it a “relief” that the heroine at the centre of Owl House wasn’t another white protagonist. She described Luz as an optimistic but slightly isolated nerd who knows what she likes and doesn’t feel she needs to apologise for it. The show is about her journeying to a magical world, filled with every kind of mystery and monster known to fantasy, where humans are normally not supposed to tread. There, Luz feels right at home.

“So many times Hispanic characters are portrayed as such serious stereotypes, but, like, there are nations full of us. We are all different people with different personalities,” she said. “We like fantasy. We’re nerds, we’re funny, we’re lame. I don’t know, like, it’s just Luz is a real American human and that’s awesome.”

Below is a transcript of our conversation.


Sarah-Nicole Robles, Luz: It’s just a relief, honestly. So many times Hispanic characters are portrayed as such serious stereotypes, but, like, there’s nations full of us. We are all different people with different personalities, you know? We like fantasy, we’re nerds, we’re funny, we’re lame. I don’t know, like, it’s just Luz is a real American human, and that’s awesome, with a background. And her mother Camilla — you’re going to meet her — but it’s just a really, I don’t know, refreshing representation of a real Hispanic family.

Dana Terrace, Creator/Showrunner: A lot of Luz’s personality came from when I was living with my roommate at the time, Luz. And when I was creating the show and creating these characters, we would always bounce stories of each other about what dorks we were in high school and how we would always, like, when we were super little look for portals to other worlds [laughs] to avoid doing homework and stuff like that.

And when the time came to finalise this character I asked Luz if I could name the character after her. And she said, “Yes, but you have to make her Dominican.” I was like, “Oh yes, of course.” And now Luz, the real Luz, works on the show as a story artist and a consultant. It’s just been wonderful getting to work with her.

Owl House is set to premiere on Disney XD in January 2020.

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