Selena Gomez’s Wizards of Waverly Place character Alex Russo almost had a queer romance. Created for Disney Channel in 2007, Wizards of Waverly Place followed the Russo family in New York City as they tried to navigate ordinary life while having magical powers. The show mainly focused on Gomez’s Alex, following her school life, family drama, and romantic interests. The series ran for four seasons, eventually coming to an end in 2012.
In an interview with the Wizards of Waverly Pod (via TVLine), hosted by Wizards of Waverly Place actors Jennifer Stone and David DeLuise, showrunner David Murrieta says that Alex nearly had a queer relationship on the show. While Alex had several male love interests over the course of Wizards of Waverly Place, Murrieta recalls that Hayley Kiyoko’s bad-girl wizard character Stevie was framed as a potential romance for Alex. While Murrieta says that it wasn’t possible at the time on the Disney Channel, it was very much understood among the writers that Alex and Stevie’s relationship was more than platonic. Read Murrieta’s full comment below:
“I wished we could have played more with what was quite obvious to a lot of us, which was the relationship between Stevie and Alex… We weren’t able to in that time, but it was pretty clear to all of us what that relationship was. That would have been fun. Disney Channel has had characters, and they did it, but we got as close as we could. Pretty close. It was pretty much right there.”
Disney’s Tense Relationship with Queer Characters
Stone admits that if Wizards of Waverly Place were made today, it would be entirely possible for Alex to have a queer romance, but in the late 2000s and early 2010s, it wasn’t an option. Despite this, Murrieta and the other writers were seemingly all on board for a romance between Alex and Stevie, despite Kiyoko’s character only appearing in four episodes of Wizards of Waverly Place. However, even more recent Disney productions have had difficulties getting queer characters and romances past the large entertainment corporation.
While Disney has had a long and arduous history of “first” gay characters in their media, the actual first live-action Disney Channel television show to prominently feature a queer character was Andi Mack in 2020. The same year, the animated Disney series Owl House introduced the channel’s first bisexual character, Luz, whose sexuality was openly discussed and freely shown. However, the series has since been canceled, with creator Dana Terrace stating that Owl House did not fit the Disney brand.
Though recent titles such as Strange World, Onward, and Lightyear have all boasted having queer characters, the studio often simply implies and briefly shows a queer couple without actually showcasing or discussing the relationship. There has been a fraught history between Disney and the LGBTQ+ community, and for good reason, as Disney often seems to value profit more than representation. However, knowing that the Wizards of Waverly Place writers had a queer relationship in mind for a beloved Disney Channel character is certainly an exciting development.
Source: Wizards of Waverly Pod