Children’s literature and music often carry empowering messages and the classic nursery rhyme “Un elefante se balanceaba”, used throughout Latin America, is no different. The lines: “Un elefante se balanceaba/sobre la tela de una araña,/ como veía que resistía/ fue a llamar a otro elefante” refer to elephants, one by one, balancing on a sturdy spider web. That concept became an empowering ode to community and unity though an animated short that Mexican producer Olga Segura co-created and co-produced along with Mónica Ramírez through The Latinx House, an organization they also co-founded. The rhyme gets a reggaeton remix and includes a lineup of 16 influential Latinas (in an English and Spanish version) each voicing elephants who quickly learn the power in working together and helping one another succeed. Elefanta: Que Ninguna Se Quede Balanceándose Sola is a five minute animated short and the English version features the voices of Stephanie Beatriz (Encanto), Isab ella Gomez (One Day at a Time), and Jessica Marie Garcia (On My Block).
“[Monica and I] would have loved to have [this], if we were younger and we didn’t have that. And we talk even about like, imagine if we would have that when we were like 15 years old or ten years old. I’m an immigrant, and all Latinos we all talk about how some of the teaching was like ‘the one next to you is not your friend, [she is] your enemy because you are in competition’,” Segura tells HipLatina. “I think that that’s what we’re so proud of because I do think that, first of all, there’s thousands of Elefante animations, but nothing with a message like this. So we’re very proud of it.”
The idea for the passion project came about in 2020 during Sundance when she shared the message that “todas cabemos en la tela de araña”. She said the feedback she received indicated that the message resonated with many and that it was worth exploring how to showcase it while still embracing the nature of the original rhyme. Beatriz opens the short with a conversation with Karla Souza (How to Get Away with Murder) telling her she is “her abuelita’s biggest dreams” and that she could become the ‘first Latina CEO”. The sky is truly the limit is the message, or in this case, the spider web is sturdier than it looks. The message isn’t just in the song and animation, it’s in the very threads that helped piece together this project through the community of Latinas they leaned on to make it happen.
Beatriz, who is of Colombian and Bolivian descent, shares that she watched it with her mom and daughter and her mom recognized the song so it was a special moment to have three generations bonding over this rhyme. But this time, the empowering message attached to it gave it more significance and as a new mom she appreciated being a part of something that emphasized the importance of community.
“Kids are like sponges, right? They’re listening and looking at everything that we do, and show them and trying to figure out how to be in the world. They’re using us as models or using the stories that we give them as models. And this is a really simple song. But like Olga said, it says so much metaphors inside the song about how we can help lift each other up. And how we can create this, you know, could be a tenuous web, but at the same time, with the more people that are helping each other and building connections, the stronger that it gets,” Beatriz tells us.
Cuban-Mexican American actress Jessica Marie Garcia, also a first time mom to a babygirl, echoes those sentiments telling us:
“I love animation and have wanted to be a part one since I was a child. But more importantly I’ve wanted to be a part of something I can be proud to show my daughter, Selena. Elefanta is a beautiful story about being there for one another and never letting someone go through hard times alone. I thought this was a beautiful message to share with my daughter and our community,” adding, “I am also just so excited to watch her sing along and one day realize one of those elefantas is her mama!”
Fostering a sense of community where women are celebrated and supported is the foundation for the Latinx House and also what attracted Beatriz to the project. The Latinx House was built on the importance of community within the entertainment industry and is dedicated to fostering a sense of community. The short has been three years in the making, since the conception of The Latinx House itself. The short was created in collaboration with Justice for Migrant Women, founded by Ramirez, WarnerMedia 150, and the AT&T Foundation. Segura shares that it was a time-consuming and costly process but it was through the connections they’ve made that they were able to bring together Latina actresses to voice the various elephants in leadership roles in science, medicine, space travel, construction, law, and more, all working together.
“The creation and release of our first piece of original content is an important step in the direction of taking control of our narrative and creating the content that we want to see. I think that it is important that these powerful Latina changemakers have come together with us to make an animated short that helps to paint a picture of what is possible when we show up as our authentic selves and bring other people along with us,” Ramirez tells HipLatina. “I think it is meaningful that the content is animated because it is inviting us and our children to dream, imagine and see what is possible when we support each other.”
Mexican actress and singer Michelle Rodriguez (40 y 20) voices the singing elephant in the English version that ties the storylines together as more and more elephants unite on the tela de araña. She sings “Nos ayudamos, juntas trabajamos, si una cae, todas las levantamos, dame tu mano, que sola no estamos” which translates to “We help each other, work together, if one falls, we all lift her up, give me your hand because we’re not alone.”
Latinas are set to make up 25.7 percent of the female population in the U.S. in 2050 and yet there is little representation in animation. We’ve seen that slowly change with films like Encanto and Coco and shows like Elena of Avalor, Disney’s first Latina princess, and The Casagrandes but we still have a ways to go. This Elefanta short is the anthem that they all agree they would’ve appreciated growing up and for Segura, it’s ultimately a message that will resonate with everyone regardless of nationality or gender.
“[This is for] all Latinas but I think the message goes beyond a gender, it’s just for everybody. I think that we keep saying together stronger — yes, we are. And I think if we can deliver that message, it will be beautiful.”
Karla Souza (How to Get Away with Murder, Day Shift)
Kate del Castillo (La Reina del Sur, Under the Same Moon)
Yalitza Aparicio (Roma)
Erendira Ibarra (Sense8, The Matrix Resurrections)
Jessica Marie Garcia (On My Block)
Stephanie Beatriz (Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Encanto)
Isabella Gomez (One Day at A Time)
Natalia Reyes (Terminator: Dark Fate)
Paulina Davila (The Deal)
Leonor Varela (Cleopatra, Arrested Development)
Jeimy Osorio (Fast Five)
Mabel Cadena (Black Panther: Wakanda Forever)
Michelle Rodriguez (40 y 20)
Tayhana (Corazón Lleno de Mil Vacíos)
Mare Advertencia (Tú Sí Sabes Quererme)
Charly Gynn (Las Chicas Super Perreadoras)
“Elefanta: Que Ninguna Se Quede Balanceándose Sola” is available in English, and Spanish on Spotify, YouTube, and all music streaming platforms.