Get to Know the Six Storytellers

It’s so important to never give up on your dreams. We all learned that as young girls and the Disney Princesses helped encourage us to go after what we want. Tiana taught us that hard work can make your dreams come true. Belle taught us to never judge a book by its cover. Mulan taught us to dream big by taking the lead. Jasmine taught us to dream big and try new things.

For every girl who dreams big, there’s a Princess to show her it’s possible. The six #WeAllGrow Storytellers will be representing all of us as they share their Dream Big moments at the Summit during the #WeAllGrow Storytellers sessions, presented by Disney Princess “Dream Big, Princess.”

In anticipation of the Storytellers session, we sat down with each Storyteller to get inspired by their stories of what princess they most identify with, their Dream Big moments and more! Make sure to tweet at them to let them know how excited you are to meet them and don’t forget to include the #WeAllGrow and #DreamBigPrincess hashtags so we can see it too. Get ready to be inspired!

Hometowns

Dore Stone (@DorasTable) - Acuña, Coahuila, Mexico

Elayna Fernandez (@thePositiveMOM_) - San Jose de Ocoa, Dominican Republic

Laura Muller (@lightysaludable) - Chihuahua

Marianna Du Bosq (@bilingualavenue) - Caracas, Venezuela

Vanessa Bell (@DeSuMama) - Los Angeles, California

Camila Canabal (@camilacanabal) - Uruguay but raised in Barquisimeto, Venezuela

Why did you choose the princess you did for your story?

Dora: “I see myself reflected in Princess Tiana's hard work and dedication to her dream, but she is also an inspiration because in the end she never lost sight of the most important thing - love.”

Elayna: “I never saw myself as Mulan, however, my daughters consider Mulan to be ‘my soulmate princess’ because she finds purpose in her pain, finds strength in her struggles and has the courage to fight for herself and those she loves.

I was in tears when I discovered that my daughters saw me as a courageous fighter who is graceful and balanced. It was such a sweet mother-daughter moment.

Like Mulan, I grew up feeling invisible, like my voice didn’t matter and like I had to prove my worth. Like her, I was also called a disgrace to my family. I was physically and emotionally beaten every day and I was compelled to learn to find my inner warrior at a very young age.”

Laura: “As I remembered all the princess stories and how Cinderella was always bullied by her stepsisters, it made me identify right away. I suffered a lot of bullying during elementary school but that made me stronger and helped me to never give up. If it wasn't for that experience I would not be the person I am. My success is in part thanks to all those bullies. Cinderella never gave up and neither do I.”

Marianna: “I have always had a soft spot for Ariel. I was seven years old when The Little Mermaid came out and it was the first animated film that I saw in the movie theater. I was captivated by the experience and in love with Ariel's personality.  I could immediately relate to her love for exploring new worlds and her sense of adventure. I knew every scene, every song, every line from the movie. My sister and I would spend hours in the swimming pool, reenacting scenes from it - that is if we could finally compromise on who was going to play Ariel and Sebastian!”

What I didn't know at that young age is how much my own story would mirror that of Ariel's life. Just a few years after The Little Mermaid came out, I too would be exploring a whole new world and living through all the ups and downs that come with that experience.  When the time came to choose the princess for my story, I did not even have to think twice about it. Ariel was it!”

Vanessa: “I chose Princess Jasmine because she's audacious and full of wholesome principles. I admire her heart and courage to live according to values she finds important, yet it's the reconciliation she experiences with her family and home that resonates most deeply for me. She braved the world outside her castle walls, returning with aspirations to make her home a better place.”

Camila: “I chose Cinderella because I think I felt exactly what she felt when she lost her shoe, PUM!!! When the government of Venezuela closed the channel where I had worked since I was 22 years old, I lost my job, my career, my recognition - after years of hard work to build myself, it was all gone. I had to move to another country, leave my family, my friends and my comfort zone behind to RESTART my life again from scratch.”

What has been your "Dream Big" moment?

Dora: “The moment I self-published my first book. That's when I realized that I did it! I was no longer almost there - I was there. “

Elayna: “I had my first ‘dream big’ moment when I was 7-years-old. I lived in extreme poverty and my toys came from the city dumpster right behind the wooden shack where I lived. This particular day, I found a soggy and smelly American children’s magazine that portrayed childhood as a happy experience. I was intrigued and felt it was a vision for what my life could be: having the support, resources and time I deeply desired.

When you dream big, you give yourself permission to be bold, to go beyond your circumstances and out of your comfort zone. That day I decided I had to make it happen and to decode the secret, ‘aprender ingles’ was step one.

With determination and hard work, I saved for 4 years and at 11, I finally enrolled in English classes. At 15, I finished high school and found my way out of the slums, to go to college and change my life. I treasure these moments in which I understood that my worth, my identity and my potential are not tied to my circumstances. Like the Emperor stated, “The flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful.”

Laura: “In 2014 I was named one of the most influential Latinas in the U.S. in the health area, that same year I was profiled in Salud 180 health magazine as one of the most influential health personalities in the last decade next to important names such as Melinda Gates. Today I am able to reach more than a million followers on my social media. I openly talk with the about my experience dealing with being overweight from the emotional side. I am very glad I can help others through my own experience. I always felt very lonely and misunderstood dealing with dietitians and doctors and it is a real support that you are not by yourself on this road, that there are also many other people trying to reach a healthier lifestyle with a body that does not always respond to your efforts.”

Marianna: “When I set out to raise my bilingual child, I quickly learned that one of the biggest struggles multilingual families had is that they felt completely alone on their parenting journey. Given the fact that the majority of individuals around the world speak more than one language, this lonely fact just didn't sit right with me.

I searched for a solution and when I just couldn't find it, I set out to create it. I dreamt big and wondered if maybe I could be the one to give a voice to these families. Maybe I could be the one that would bring families from around the world together so that they never had to feel alone and ultimately give up on their dreams.

I quickly turned my big dream into action. I stepped into a completely unknown world and researched anything and everything I could about the world of podcasting. Within a few months, I launched my own show that two years later continues to bring multilingual families from over 130 countries together to share their multilingual experiences.

I could have let fear get in the way. I could have let the fact that there are hardly any women of color in podcasting get in the way. I could have allowed all the "what if's" to stop me from this valuable work but I dreamt big and I made it happen!”

Vanessa: “My ‘dream big’ moment is constantly evolving; it's less about one moment and more of a state of mind that I wish to live in (and model for my kids). After a big dream is realized, a new dream takes its place. What else can we accomplish - where else would we travel, what boundaries would we cross, what connections would we forge - if not burdened with fear or insecurity?”

Camila: “There have been several “Dream Big” moments in my life. Professionally, it was when I was 20 years old and my dream to work on TV became a reality. I sent some demos to the best TV networks in the country. Days later I got a call that invited me to a casting and after four hours of the first casting I got another call: “You are the one we pick – congratulations Camila!”

Personally, definitely being a mom and having a family as I do today! I think I always dreamed it. My family is no doubt my best production ever!”

One of our favorite quotes is, "Be the woman you needed as a little girl." If given the chance, what would you say to your younger self?

Dora: “Don't be so hard on yourself, you are beautiful and capable of so many things. Remember that God loves you; trust him.”

Elayna: “You are worth it just as you are. Forsake the pressure to perform. Release the addictive glory of achievement. Let go of competitiveness through comparison. Pressure, addiction and comparison are the robbers of peace, freedom and joy. Have courage to be unapologetically who you are meant to be, to live a life you love and do it on your own terms!”

Laura: “Do not give up Laura, you will make great things, keep on studying and enjoying. All the suffering will pass by and you will see a great reward. You will be able to help a lot of people and will be the mom of an amazing kid that loves you.”

Marianna: “Like many teenage girls, I struggled with the need to ‘fit in.’ As an immigrant teenage girl, however, I had all the added pressure that comes with needing to ‘fit’ into a different culture and a different language.

At a time when all I wanted was to blend in, I stuck out like a sore thumb. My clothes, my accent, my cursive handwriting, even my backpack were different. I would stay up wondering if the time would ever come when I would finally fit in. If I had the chance, I would want to tell that younger me that the day I envisioned would never come.  But instead a better day would.  A day where I would be able to combine the great things that made me who I am with all the great things from this new culture and instead of fitting in, I would stand out!”

Vanessa: “Have fun, be curious and embrace the leaps of faith that keep life interesting. We each get to decide how failure manifests in our lives - so live kindly and boldly.”

Camila: “What I have learned in my life is that talent is important but attitude is more important!  How you approach people and the first impression you give them matters. Also, life is simpler than it seems - I always say to my daughters that, 'A smile is everything, it opens doors, even the ones closed tightly.'

Put yourself in others people’s shoes, give what you want to receive, do not fool anyone and do not cheat anyone unless you want to sleep restless.”

And what's one message you would tell a room full of little chicas?

Dora: “Never stop dreaming big.”

Elayna: “Your only mission is to be your very own best friend! Spend time with yourself, support yourself, trust yourself, listen to your intuition, validate your own worth on a daily basis, thank yourself for the good you do and forgive yourself with compassion when something seems off. Make choices based on self-love rather than fear, and finally, be there for yourself in the present moment, because YOU and NOW is truly all you have.”

Laura: “Sometime we have to live difficult times, things happen without any sense. We are too small to understand why things that hurt us happen in our lives, only God knows the master plan. Just trust, pray, enjoy and go through any situations, nothing is forever. Justice comes sooner or later, as well as rewards.”

Marianna: “I would want to tell other little chicas in a similar situation as mine that you never ever have to sacrifice the wonderful things that make you, your culture and your language unique.  These things will instead become the beautiful foundation from which you will blossom.”

Vanessa: “I would tell a room full of little chicas the same thing I tell my daughter as she sets out into the world each day: go be great. Go forward and upward, with expectant hope and clarity of self. Take on challenges, fall down and get back up. Let greatness find its home in you.”

Camila: “More than half of the things I have achieved in my life are because I always made the effort to go through life, even in the toughest situations, with the best attitude.”


Submissions have been edited for grammar and length