It was a great pleasure to speak again with Jodi Benson, the voice of Ariel in “The Little Mermaid.” Jodi returns to the role for a new DVD called “The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Beginning,” in stores this week.
Tell me a little bit about the new DVD and what it was like to return to the character you created for the original film.
This story is about the essence of who she is when she is a little girl from age five to the original movie. it has the backstory of her mother, father, sisters, her issue with her mom, all of her relationships. It’s great to do this again because it’s in my blood. It’s been 20 plus years. Throughout the time in between the movies I have worked on a lot of a products, the princess DVDs, singalongs and story books, so she gets to live on between the years. Its nice that there’s not a huge lapse for me, but you really get to delve into it when it’s a movie. The people at Disney really gave their hearts to this project so that made it extra special for me.
How were you cast in the original film?
I was doing a Broadway show called “Smile” in 1984. It closed very quickly, which was quite sad for everybody. But [writer-lyricist] Howard Ashman had established this relationship with Disney — Mickey Mouse came to the opening night party — and they invited all the girls in the cast to audition for “The Little Mermaid.” It was kind of like a consolation prize, About a year to a year and half later I got a call that my tape had been selected. I had never done voiceover work before, but Howard told them, “She won’t be difficult.” It was challenging because I had to learn to use the microphone correctly. I was nervous the first couple of days. He really directed me through the project like it was a stage show.
I know your spiritual life and religious devotion are very important to you and your family.
I am a follower of Jesus. My husband really brought me to the Lord when I was 18 and I am so lucky to have a platform through the studio. They have been so kind and loving and supportive. I homeschool so the start of the day is reading Bible scripture, memorization and prayer. It is the number one thing in our lives for our family. It sends us every way. That makes it less pressure for me because I don’t have that stress, knowing I am just led by the Lord. We have tried to make our lives a blessing and tried to be an open vessel to pour out whenever the Lord gives us the opportunity. When I share a song or walk the red carpet, I always say, “let us do the loving thing.” My husband has a gift for reaching out to people in need. I always look over and see him connecting to someone who needs to talk or needs some support. The important thing is telationships, making connections, loving on them. We live in a broken world and we are here to help it heal.
Is there a passage of scripture that is especially significant for you?
John 15:5 — “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” It is so true. I can’t sing, perform, do anything apart from Christ. I have no power or strength of my own. The scripture for this week is Psalm 46:10 — “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” That is such a good thought for where I am right now.