Disney's 'A.N.T. Farm' Breaks Fresh Ground

New comedy about middle-school musical prodigies will bring a refreshing bit of diversity thanks to its rising star

Today, Disney Channel tunnels into your TV with A.N.T. Farm, a brand new series about a middle school musical prodigy who joins the A.N.T. (Advanced Natural Talents) program at her high school. (The show premieres at 8:30 p.m. ET.) Let’s run through the A+ formula for success: Cute kids (check) with musical skills (check) cause comedic mayhem (assumed check).

But one important difference about A.N.T. Farm is its breakout star (and real life singer), China Anne McClain, who will become the first high-profile African-American kids' show headliner since Raven Symone. Even at age 12, China is no stranger to the industry. You might have spotted her in the movie Grown Ups, or as a recurring character in shows including House of Payne, Jonas, and Wizards of Waverly Place. Joining China on the Farm will be Sierra McCormick, Stefanie Scott, Carlon Jeffery, and Jake Short.

It's nice to see different faces -- especially different kinds of faces -- on Disney (Nick, it’s your move). But let's move even more diversity through that door before it slams shut again. Kids benefit from seeing minority races, religions, and sexual orientations presented not just as two-dimensional goofy side characters, but as fully formed lead characters. That will be some natural advancement indeed.

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