Entertainment

This Cuban-American Producer Brought Lin-Manuel Miranda In As The First Brown Latino Duck In The New ‘DuckTales’

It’s clear from the moment I meet Francisco “Frank” Angones, the Emmy-nominated story editor and co-producer of the new Disney XD “DuckTales” series, that calling the man a fan of the series is an understatement. He has several cartoon memorabilia-lined shelves in his office, along with a cassette tape of the original “DuckTales” theme song. Angones is the real deal.

Frank Angones is the co-producer and story editor of the upcoming “DuckTales” reboot on Disney XD.

Courtesy of Disney

Perks of the job: getting your own “DuckTales” portrait.


A Cuban-American who grew up in Miami, Angones has a pristine childhood photo of himself dressed head to toe as the “DuckTales” spin-off character Darkwing Duck. Angones says he’s living a childhood dream: “I’m really lucky to be able to do the job that 10-year-old me would be doing backflips over.”

Angones and team have spared no detail, poring over everything in the reboot to make sure it’s new and fresh, but not unrecognizable, from the original.

Courtesy of Disney

I’m led through the Disney offices and to a production room where art from the show is proudly displayed. There’s a detailed map of Duckburg, which oddly reminds me of the “Game Of Thrones” map. There are detailed instructional drawings of the do’s and don’ts of illustrating duck bills, which Angones tells me is surprisingly hard to do because they have to remain stiff, yet malleable enough to allow the characters to speak.

The sheer preparation and thought that goes into making a show of this caliber and with this much at stake is fascinating — “DuckTales” has fans around the globe that grew up on the stuff and will be no doubt scrutinizing the rebooted series with a fine-toothed comb.

Several new faces were added to the original roster of “DuckTales” villains.

Credit: Andrew Santiago/ Disney

All these guys look like real bad guys, but it’s the quiet looking one at the end that’s really scary.


On our way to the writers’ room, Angones shows me several panels of what my untrained eye sees as just settings and backgrounds. But Angones breaks down how they’ve kept the 2D animation look, which many shows no longer use, while adding a comic book feel to it, like the original comic book series. He tells me that bringing the series back to life is this balancing act between paying homage to the old, while bringing it into the 21st century — about 25 years after its finale. Feeling old yet?

In the writers’ room, everyone scrambled quickly to remove secret characters from the walls so I wouldn’t write about them. But I saw them. Oh, did I see them.

I quickly got into the meat of what I wanted to ask about: Fenton Crackshell-Cabrerathe first Brown, Latino duck character in the series.

CREDIT: Courtesy of Disney

Crackshell-Cabrera and his family, his mom specifically, are as stubborn as goats (“Cabrera” means goat herder), which is why they chose it as the family name, Angones tells me.


An update to the original Fenton Crackshell, Crackshell-Cabrera is now Latino and Brown. He’s also the secret identity of Gizmoduck. Gizmoduck was the coolest of ’90s TV cartoon superheroes, combining “Inspector Gadget” style doohickies with Iron Man-like armor, a comedic duck version of RoboCop on wheels. He was badass, and he still is, but now, he’s even cooler because he’s being voiced by the one and only Lin-Manuel Miranda.

“In the original version, [Fenton] was an accountant, he was fast-talking, he was very sincere, he had a million ideas all at once, not all of them worked out,” says Angones. “But he always meant well and he was always fundamentally heroic and wanted to prove his worth. And we said, ‘Well that’s Lin-Manuel Miranda.'”

If you’re looking for a Duckburg version of “Hamilton” or “In The Heights,” don’t get your hopes up, because Angones was doing his best to avoid tokenism, both of Latinos at large and of Miranda himself. “That was a pet peeve of mine in the ’90s, when you’d watch a cartoon and then suddenly there would be some kind of rap song,” he said, “Or like, ‘Do the Urkel,’ they were just trying to market on this.” The show is making sure they take representation seriously. 

Angones: “I knew we were looking for more representation, because we’re not just in Duckberg, we’re a globe-trotting show, and one of the things we take pride in is every time we go somewhere, we go to a different country or area, we always try to cast people who are actually from that country. If we go to Egypt, we’re going to actually cast Egyptian actors. If we go to China, we’re actually going to cast Chinese actors instead of voice actors who are trying to approximate that. I think that brings a level of authenticity to the whole thing.”

This importance given by Angones to representation perhaps is deep in his blood. Toward the end of our interview, he tells me the story of his great-great grandfather, who wrote the Cuban national anthem, and performed it as an act of defiance to Spanish aristocrats, asking other Cubans to stand with him and fight.

With all of the additions, updates and changes, however, Angones acknowledges the most important aspect of the show since its inception: family.

Courtesy of Disney

Unlike the original, each of the kids is performed by a different actor, thus allowing them to each have their own very distinct personality and voice.


“We knew that we wanted it to be a family show first. A real, relatable, weird, blended family,” says Angones. “Where a family is not just a mom and a dad and two kids. It can be triplets living with an uncle and their great uncle, and the housekeeper, and the housekeeper’s daughter is part of the family and this circle of people that you adventure with. Family is the greatest adventure of all.”

I had to agree with Frank, family is the greatest adventure of all. Well said.


Courtesy of Disney

This is the one photo I was allowed to take in the writers’ room. Top secret stuff is just offscreen to the right.

Credit: Andrew Santiago/ Disney

Several main characters were also removed right before I snagged this photo. NSA-level secrecy.

Disney XD has already released a movie length episode entitled “Woo-oo!” You can see it and on Disney Channel starting this week. You can also check it out here:

Credit: Disney XD/ YouTube

“DuckTales” premieres with two new episodes Saturday, September 23rd on Disney XD, the same week as the original Emmy Award-winning series 30th anniversary. Check your local listings for channel and times.


READ: His Voice Has Won Awards, Now He’s Voicing One Of Disney’s Most Iconic Superheroes


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‘Siempre, Luis’ Is A Touching Love Letter From Lin-Manuel Miranda To His Father

Entertainment

‘Siempre, Luis’ Is A Touching Love Letter From Lin-Manuel Miranda To His Father

Mat Hayward / Getty Images for The Latinx House

We all have that one person who has changed the world for us. For Lin-Manuel Miranda, that person is his dad. The Puerto Rican entertainer created a documentary to tell his father’s story and it is a love letter to his father.

“Siempre, Luis” is Lin-Manuel Miranda’s love letter to his father.

The trailer for the HBO Documentary is a moving testament to the indomitable spirit of Luis Miranda. The Puerto Rican powerhouse helped lead a movement to get Latinos involved in and interested in politics focusing on Puerto Ricans who had left the island.

Lin-Manuel’s documentary is a deep dive into the life of the man who raised the creator of “In The Heights” and “Hamilton.” Luis was Lin-Manuel’s inspiration when playing Alexander Hamilton in his wildly popular and famous musical.

“He’s just a relentless motherf*cker,” Lin-Manuel says in the documentary.

The documentary takes people on a ride covering decades of Luis’ life. The main focus is his political activism and how one man helped create a movement to get Latinos involved in politics. Luis leveraged the hate and pushback against the Latino community as a way to energize and mobilize Latinos to get them involved like never before.

Then, Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, Luis’ home and magical escape. The island endured a direct hit from Hurricane Maria, which knocked out power to millions of Americans for months. Many Puerto Ricans fled the island for the mainland giving them a chance to vote for president in 2020.

“For me, Puerto Rico is this perfect place that all of a sudden doesn’t exist anymore,” Luis says through tears in the documentary. “I immediately saw it as my responsibility to rebuild the island.”

He added: “Doing everything we can becomes the job.

“I told him, ‘I don’t want to be a widow. There isn’t another you to replace you,’” Luz Towns-Miranda recalls to the camera about her husband’s mission to fix Puerto Rico.

Luis’ time talking about his work in Puerto Rico is accompanied by videos images of the “Hamilton” stage being constructed for the show on the island. There are shots of Luis offering aid to people and preparing meals for those impacted by the hurricane.

Luis’ activism has grown over the years and he is ready to keep making change.

“Siempre, Luis” is now available on HBO and HBOmax for your viewing pleasure. People have praised the film’s insightfulness into one of the Latinos who got his community activated and politically engaged.

READ: Lin-Manuel Wants To Keep Lots Of Ticket Prices Down To $10 When He Brings ‘Hamilton’ To Puerto Rico

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Disney Just Confirmed Their First Bisexual Lead Character And She’s Dominican!

Fierce

Disney Just Confirmed Their First Bisexual Lead Character And She’s Dominican!

Disney +

Whooot whoot!!

Disney Channel is officially bumping up its diversity efforts. The television channel recently confirmed that it is debuting its first bisexual lead character in a new series. Disney’s latest series “The Owl House” is an American animated fantasy television series created by Dana Terrace and premiered earlier this year on January 10, 2020.

Luz Noceda is the series’ 14-year-old Dominican-American girl and the channel’s first LGBTQ+ character.

While Luz isn’t the first LGBTQ+ Disney character to be featured on Disney (that goes to a character in Pixar’s short “Out” on Disney Plus) she is the first bisexual character to appear on a Disney television series.

“The Owl House” is a series that follows Luz a teenage girl who accidentally falls into a portal leading to another world instead of going to a juvenile detention summer camp.

Speaking about making Luz, her creator Dana Terrace shared that initially “certain Disney leadership” had not been thrilled about the LGBTQ+ character.

“I was very open about my intention to put queer kids in the main cast. I’m a horrible liar so sneaking it in would’ve been hard,” she explained in a tweet. “I was told by certain Disney leadership that I could not represent any form of bi or gay relationship on the channel.”

Terrace, who identifies as bisexual, said she fought hard to have Luz be bisexual on the Disney series as well. “Luckily my stubbornness paid off, and now I am very supported by current Disney leadership,” she explained.

Fortunately, viewers have given Terrace and her character quite a bit of support.

Fans of the series have thanked Noceda for bringing the representation of the LGBTQ+ community to Disney.

Alex Hirsch, the creator of Disney’s “Gravity Falls,” shared in the comments that Disney kept him from including LGBTQ+ in his series. “Apparently ‘happiest place on earth’ meant ‘straightest,'” he remarked. “Thanks to Dana Terrace and team, there are explicitly queer animated main characters on Disney TV… This time, Disney- you did good.”

In response to all of her support, Terrace urged her supporters to continue to fight for representation on-screen and other forms of media. “Representation matters!” she exclaimed.

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