This year marks the re-release of Disney's classic, "The Little Mermaid," and for the first time the film is available on Blu-Ray and in 3D. Jodi Benson voiced lead character Ariel and spoke with The Christian Post about her work with the Disney company, the message of "The Little Mermaid," and how faith helped her change her future.
You're probably most well-known for being the voice of Ariel in "The Little Mermaid," but you've also worked on various Christian-focused projects? What are some of the projects you have been a part of?
Shortly after "Mermaid," I was signed as a recording artist and worked on a series for "The Beginner's Bible" CDs. I also did a TV video series called "Guidepost Junction" and "Baby Faith," which features hymns and Bible-stories told in an easy-to-understand way. I've done a variety of projects in different areas of the entertainment industry.
How has life changed since the premiere of "The Little Mermaid"?
The movie changed everything. All I've been a part of has been thanks to the Disney company: the job, experience, travel, opportunities have come thanks to Disney. Working for Disney was not part of my original plan, but it was part of God's, and it shows that God is still moving.
Did faith play a role in choosing to work with Disney and be a part of "The Little Mermaid"?
When the opportunity came for me to audition for "Mermaid," I leapt at the opportunity. I was all about the family, and Disney stood for everything I stood for; it was a marriage made in heaven. I work with a lot of amazing people. What I look for in a project or partner is integrity and character; I love the concept of family entertainment and crosses over the generations, where you can sit kids with their grandparents and everyone has a good time. Those are the qualities that I want to bring to viewers.
What message do you hope "The Little Mermaid" sends to young girls/viewers?
To be tenacious, to be driven as far as going after your dreams. The gifts that God gives children should be expressed and they [children] should not be so concerned about success or failure but just go for it. I think God calls and encourages us to dream big, but sometimes we put God in a box in a very small way, when God wants us to look outside the box. Ariel is looking outside the box at something unattainable; and she is tenacious in obtaining her goal. Every time we release something from the vault, we want to bring a new generation as if it were the first time. We want to expose it to children's eyes for the first time.
What do you say to critics who believe that Disney princesses set a bad example for young girls?
First of all, you're dealing with a fairy tale. Is it meant to be based in reality? Not necessarily… there's an element of wonder and excitement and anticipation, which I think the Disney princesses create. When I watched "Cinderella," I thought 'Wow —look at all the joy that came into her life, and she had a fairy godmother!' We need to remember that this is entertainment, not reality TV. But hopefully the encouraging messages are the same.
"The Little Mermaid" is available on Blu-Ray Combo Pack and HD Digital release for a limited time beginning October 1. The film is also available in 3D. The three-disc Diamond Edition features Blu-Ray 3D, Blu-Ray 2D, DVD, Digital Copy and a Music CD.
Watch the original 1989 trailer HERE: