Representation is so important to children and taking a step in that direction is Nick Jr., which teased its first biracial character: Nella the Princess Knight. Premiering on Monday (Feb. 13), the character is a princess by day who transforms into a knight when duty calls.
“This is hopefully representative of what our country actually does look like,” Cyma Zarghami, Nickelodeon’s Group President, told PEOPLE. “I think that we are telling authentic stories about real kids and real families — even though they’re animated and fantasy-based. We’re really trying to reflect what kids see every day… real kids who look like you and me.”
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Nick Jr. has a solid history of diverse content going as far back as Gullah Gullah Island, a show inspired by Gullah culture on St. Helena Island, South Carolina in the 1990s to present day Dora the Explorer, a show about an indigenous Mexican heritage girl who loves adventure.
“One of the things we’re talking a lot about is how adults would characterize it and how kids would characterize it,” Zarghami explains about how Nickelodeon would define Nella’s race or ethnicity.
“The answer to the kid front is, here’s somebody that looks like somebody I might know. I’m growing up in a world that is full of different kinds of families and people of different race, religion and ethnicity. So it looks very authentic to these kids. To us, it looks like we’re doing something cutting-edge and different and innovative. To the audience it’s like, ‘That’s what they’re supposed to look like.’”