Disney Princesses Give Kids the World from Quarantine

Yesterday was a big day for Give Kids the World Village, a vacation resort in central Florida for children with critical illnesses. Due to the recent world crisis, the village is temporarily closed, so they have found other ways to support sick children by holding fundraiser events online. Yesterday's event was a virtual Q&A with four famous actresses who played Disney Princesses during the Disney Renaissance era. They include Jodi Benson, who did the voice of Ariel, Paige O'Hara, who did the voice of Belle, Linda Larkin, who did the voice of Jasmine, and Irene Bedard, who did the voice of Pocahontas. You can make a donation under any one of their names by clicking on them above. It was a pleasure to be present for this magical princess reunion on Zoom as these talented actresses discussed their experiences with Give Kids the World Village, Disney theme parks, and working as voice artists.

The event, entitled "A Royal Evening for Give Kids the World," was hosted by Omar Elkalyoubie, the Development Manager for the program. He used a virtual green screen background of Cinderella Castle in Walt Disney World during the interview, adding some magic to his workstation. Paige had her Disney Fine Art paintings that she did of Belle on display behind her. The Zoom meeting ran a little over an hour as Omar asked the princesses various questions that were sent in prior to the event, including many from sick children who participated in the program. Irene Bedard was the last presenter to arrive and the first to leave due to technical difficulties with her computer. Linda Larkin communicated with her via text message, showing us how close these actresses are due to their shared experiences as Disney Princesses. Jodi Benson and Paige O'Hara admitted that they have been friends for 40 years, meaning their bond dates back to when they were still aspiring actresses dreaming of stardom.

I've seen many princess interviews both online and in person, but I still learn something new every time. This was one of the only interviews I've ever seen with Irene Bedard, who had a lot to say about playing the lead role in Pocahontas. It turns out that when the movie was released, she attended many events at Walt Disney World and even buried a time capsule somewhere on property, but she doesn't remember exactly where! Maybe one day, Pocahontas's time capsule will be rediscovered, and we will see first hand just how much has changed since 1995. I also learned about some of the princesses' favorite rides. For instance, Jodi is a roller coaster fanatic, while Irene prefers rides that tell stories such as the Haunted Mansion. My personal preferences align more with Irene's than Jodi's. Jodi and Paige also recalled having to record their auditions for Ariel and Belle on cassette tapes, something that only people who grew up in the '90s remember using. Linda talked a little about how she got picked on when she was younger for having such a unique voice, but she ended up with the last laugh after being cast as Jasmine, one of the most famous Disney Princesses of all time.

At the end of the event, Omar introduced a surprise guest, John Morris, who played Andy in Toy Story. This spurred a short conversation about the Toy Story movies and how much it resonated with John to have Andy leave his childhood toys behind in the sequels. Jodi mentioned about how she was selected as the first-ever voice for Barbie for Toy Story 2 and revealed that she had previously played the famous doll in a claymation workout video in the late '80s. Other highlights of the evening included the actresses discussing how the princesses inspire people in different ways, causing them to take on a maternal role toward fans and colleagues. Paige presented a picture of herself with Emma Watson, who portrayed her character of Belle over 25 years later for the live-action remake. It was a lovely hour filled with reminiscing and celebrating the inspirational magic that princesses bring to both children and adults all around the world.

The animated Disney Princesses weren't the only ones spreading socially distanced joy this weekend. The three talented ladies of the Broadway Princess Party--Susan Egan, Courtney Reed, and Laura Osnes--released this beautiful cover of "A Million Dreams" from the movie The Greatest Showman yesterday for the Los Angeles LGBT Center's "Rainbowthon" that took place on May 14th. Even though their concert is temporarily postponed, they are continuing to support fans with virtual experiences available though their website including royal shout-outs, private princess coaching, and virtual concerts. Even though we can't be together in person right now, these princesses are not letting that stop them from bringing inspiration to anyone in need of a little happiness.


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