Manu might be only 2 years old but her face lit up on seeing a young Mirabel from Encanto and believed it was her on-screen.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on March 17, 2022. It has since been updated.
When wide-eyed Manu looked up at the screen, she saw herself in Mirabel, an animated character from "Encanto." The 2-year-old turned around to her mom with a big grin on her face and said, "It's me Mommy!" in Portuguese. It was yet another example of why representation matters. It's important for kids from all walks of life to see themselves being portrayed on screen, and positively. "Encanto" has captured the imagination of children the world over and if you live in a house that has kids, there's a good chance the "Encanto" soundtrack is playing on a loop in your home.
The video of Manu Araújo Marques reacting to seeing 'herself' on screen was posted on Instagram by her mother, Hannary Araújo. The video shows the two-year-old looking at the TV that's playing 'Encanto.' On seeing a young Mirabel, she says, "It's me, Mommy!" She continues, "It's me!" Her Mom then asks her to turn so she can have a proper look. "It's you? Look at mommy, let me see if it's you," she says and Manu turns around, standing side-by-side alongside her onscreen likeness.
In another scene, they show Mirabel as an adult, and Manu says, "I grew up, mommy" and her mom responds, "How beautiful." The video was also shared on Twitter by @imaginago where it garnered close to 20,000 likes. Stephanie Beatriz, who voices Mirabel in the film, shared the video. Hannary, who hails from Brazil, spoke to BuzzFeed News about it. "There's nothing better than seeing your child's joy — especially being represented in a Disney movie!" she said. Hannary went on to add that she hopes more kids see the film and connect with the characters as how her daughter did.
Disney describes the 'Encanto' as "the story of an extraordinary family — the Madrigals — who live hidden in the mountains of Colombia in a magical place called an Encanto. The magic of town has blessed every child in the family with a unique gift — every child except one, Mirabel." It's not the first time Encanto's inclusive story has struck a chord with a young kid. As we reported earlier, a 2-year-old Kenzo Brand garnered attention after lighting up with joy on seeing a character that looked just like him on screen. Kenzo's connection with the character Antonio was almost immediate and he couldn't help smiling. When Kenzo saw that his curly hair and brown skin matched the character's appearance, he was glued to the TV and followed Antonio's journey keenly. His Mom, Kaheisha, shared an image of her son standing beside Antonio, all smiles. She also posted one of Kenzo watching 'himself' on screen.
Kaheisha Brand says she couldn't help but smile seeing her son take to Antonio. "He immediately gravitated towards the image of Antonio," Brand told TODAY Parents. "It just made my heart smile because I do believe that he thought he was seeing himself because of the resemblance between him and Antonio." Brand said his eyes were fixed on the screen and he was smiling throughout. Brand says it just shows how important for pop culture to be inclusive. "He instantly lit up, and turned to us, and was smiling and that made me take the picture because it made my heart happy that it brought such enjoyment to him," she said.
Kenzo's father Keith Brooks and Brand say they're happy to have chosen 'Encanto' for their child to watch. "One of the themes that it presented was family, and how strong family is, and how strong family can be when it's united," said Brooks. "To be able to see the people of Colombia and the different skin complexions they have and to be able to see yourself in other areas of the world that you didn't necessarily know about, I thought that was extremely powerful. And I thought 'Encanto' was the first movie film on any aspect that touched upon Afro-Latina and Latinos and Colombia," he added.