The National Board of Review Awards Gala was plagued by the mystery of the missing Encanto doll on March 15. Each table had one — a colorful rendition of Mirabel, the Encanto family’s crown jewel and — if you ask fans — bisexual icon. NBR and NBC Today host Craig Melvin reported to the crowd someone had *gasp* stolen Mirabel from Table 20 … until she turned up in a proud Questlove’s arms a few speeches later. After that enigma was resolved, a larger mystery remained for LGBTQ+ fans of the film: whether or not Stephanie Beatriz, who identifies as bisexual, sees Mirabel as queer-coded as they do.
Beatriz previously spoke to Vulture about her own sexuality after her Brooklyn Nine-Nine character, Rosa, came out to her parents as bi. Beatriz stated that although she identifies strongly with her Encanto progeny, Mirabel is on her own Disney-approved path. “For Mirabel’s journey, I was much more focused on how she felt like an outsider in her family,” she told Vulture at the awards gala. “But I think for Mirabel, the main thing happening is this feeling and desire to be accepted by her family and to be loved for who she is. That is the kind of feeling that can definitely be something that queer kids have, but for Mirabel it was for something different.”
Beatriz touched on Mirabel’s desire for visibility from her family in an introductory speech before director Jared Bush, producer Yvett Merino, and Disney Animation president Clark Spencer accepted the award for Best Animated Feature. Beatriz spoke “about the journey of a very human girl being Mirabel, struggling to accept herself, struggling to stay positive in a world she feels cannot see her. I saw the story I wish I had grown up with.”
Disney has a history of queer-coding villains, but newer characters like Luca — who is undeniably a Call Me by Your Name–esque twink — and Mirabel unlock the potential for well-rounded queer characters that expand LGBTQ+ representation for kids in a year where Disney came under fire for donating to the backers of Florida’s homophobic “Don’t Say Gay” bill. On March 7, Disney CEO Bob Chapek announced internally that Disney would not publicly condemn the bill, before backtracking on March 11 to assert that he’s an “ally you can count on” in a statement pausing all political donations in Florida.
At its core, Encanto is a tale about family, and Beatriz literally started her own family while making the movie; she was in labor while recording “Waiting on a Miracle.” “I didn’t want to jump the gun and go to the hospital too early. I also didn’t want to stick my foot in it and accidentally take myself out of being able to record that song until she was already here,” Beatriz said. “I just kept it quiet and tried to breathe through it, and I think I did okay! I just didn’t want to get fired!” Not only did she not get fired, “Waiting on a Miracle” started charting on Billboard. With that newfound context, we’ll never listen to that Encanto song the same way again … but we will be listening.