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The Little Mermaid Q&A with Jodi Benson (Ariel)

Sep 16, 2013

Disney releases the Diamond Edition of the animated classic The Little Mermaid on October 1st, and we couldn't let a chance to talk to the real Ariel (or her voice at least) Jodi Benson, swim by us! Find out more in her Kidzworld Q&A.

The Diamond Edition of The Little Mermaid is out October 1stThe Diamond Edition of The Little Mermaid is out October 1stCourtesy of Disney

Kidzworld: This is so exciting to get to talk to you, pretty much every kid has seen The Little Mermaid

  • Jodi: Well thank you!

Kidzworld: How did you originally get the role of Ariel’s voice in The Little Mermaid

  • Jodi: I was doing a Broadway musical called Smile in ’84 and ’85 with Howard Ashton and when the show closed Howard was in pre-production for The Little Mermaid and he kindly asked all the girls in the cast to audition for Ariel, so I went to the audition and created a little voice that I thought she might have and did a few lines and sang part of the song and they sent that off on a reel to reel without our names or pictures attached to any of it and all the powers that be listened to everything and about a year a half later I got the call that my tape was selected – it was truly a miracle!

Jodi plays the voice of Ariel, The Little MermaidJodi plays the voice of Ariel, The Little MermaidCourtesy of Disney

Kidzworld: When you were making the film and recording the voice for it did you have any idea it would be so popular? It has to be one of the most enduring Disney classics!

  • Jodi: God no! I had no idea whatsoever, in fact the voices weren’t even going to be revealed, it was just going to run at the end of the credits and that’s about it, so it was unbelievable when a couple months before that they said we’re going to send you out on a press tour, and I was like I thought we were just going to be anonymous! It was a huge surprise, I would never have guessed all these years later that this would still be my full time job. I’m very thankful

Kidzworld: You’ve done voices for a lot of different animated features (like Barbie in the Toy Story series), do you ever find that people recognise you just by your voice?

  • Jodi: Yeah! People do, throughout the years, you’ll be on the phone and you’ll hear ‘hey, you know you sound a lot like the lady who does Ariel’ or they’ll stop and say ‘you look a lot like so and so,’ and it’s really sweet, you know we appreciate that, we appreciate that people care about the film and the character and that it’s creating a positive feeling for folks.

You might also recognize Jodi's voice as Barbie in Toy Story 3You might also recognize Jodi's voice as Barbie in Toy Story 3Courtesy of Disney

Kidzworld: What do you think really sets The Little Mermaid apart from other movies like it?

  • Jodi: You know, I really think it was the timing of everything, feature animation had moved off the lot and was possibly shutting down - and then just the timing of a great script and a great staff, but really Howard Ashton bringing the element of Broadway with the musical score, and bringing Alan Mencken over to Disney, and then creating this unbelievable magic moment that had never happened before in an animated feature film. There was just something powerful about the mixture of those elements that was at the perfect time, at the perfect place, that just turned everything upside down – and then to have our second golden age of animation and to see where animation is today because of that film.

Kidzworld: The Little Mermaid is famous for its incredible musical score, what would you say is your favorite song in the film (if you had to choose just one!)

  • Jodi: Well of course I’m gonna say “Part of Your World”, that’s gonna be where my heart is cause it’s my characters’ song, but I think all the music is really beautiful  - you can’t go wrong with any one of them.

The Little Mermaid is known for its out-of-this-world musical scoreThe Little Mermaid is known for its out-of-this-world musical scoreCourtesy of Disney

Kidzworld: What do you relate to most in Ariel’s character?

  • Jodi: I think her passion and her never giving up – she’s very tenacious and I think those aspects of her personality I can really relate to, from my life, and that’s kind of how it works, you can bring the most out of the character if you can find the most in common with them, so you just have to pull from yourself and figure out how you connect so that you can make things as real as possible

Jodi BensonJodi BensonCourtesy of Jodi Benson

Kidzworld: Do you ever feel weird being immortalized as a teen voice? You’ve played her voice in all the sequels. She stays the same age, but life goes on for you - how does that feel?

  • Jodi: Oh no! I really love that part of it because there is a longevity to it, you can hold on to the magic no matter what the outside package looks like, its what’s so special about voice over characters - you can have the original characters for 20, 30 or 40 years even, it doesn’t have to change and so it can really hold to the true integrity of the character and I think Disney really loves to do that as much as possible.

Watch out for The Little Mermaid Diamond Edition when it hits stores October 1st!

Have Your Say

What’s your fave song in The Little Mermaid? Let us know in the comments section below.