News

Voicing a Princess

Actress Ariel Winter chats with TFK about being the voice of Disney’s newest princess, Sofia

January 30, 2013
RICK ROWELL—DISNEY JUNIOR

Actress Ariel Winter records the voice of Sofia during an audio session for Sofia the First

Ariel Winter shares a name with Disney princess Ariel from The Little Mermaid. Fittingly, the 15-year-old actress is now voicing Disney’s newest princess, Sofia. Ariel is best known for playing brainy middle-child Alex Dunphy on the ABC comedy Modern Family., Now, the actress is lending her talents to the title character on the new animated show Sofia the First, which airs on Disney Channel and Disney Junior. Sofia is an adventurous young girl who becomes a princess after her mother marries the king of Enchancia. Several classic Disney princesses will make appearances in special episodes to offer words of wisdom to the young princess.

To go along with the launch of the series earlier this month, Ariel’s voice also appears on Disney Publishing’s new Sofia the First: Story Theater storybook app ($3.99), available now for iPad and iPhone in the App Store. App users can listen to Sofia narrate the story, or read along themselves. The app also features a puppet theater where players can record their own stories. Recently, Ariel answered email questions from TFK about her work on the show and app, her role on Modern Family and her other interests.

In the pilot episode of Sofia the First, Sofia wants to become the first princess to earn a spot on her school's flying derby team but is paired with an overly-anxious horse, Minimus (voiced by Modern Family's Eric Stonestreet).

©DISNEY JUNIOR
In the pilot episode of Sofia the First, Sofia wants to become the first princess to earn a spot on her school's flying derby team but is paired with an overly-anxious horse, Minimus (voiced by Modern Family's Eric Stonestreet).

TFK:

How does it feel to be the voice behind Disney's newest princess, and to get to sing as part of the role?

ARIEL WINTER:

It really feels incredible! As a young girl [I dreamed] of being a princess, and I’m finally getting to be one! I’ve been singing since I was little, and I always wanted to find a way to incorporate my singing into my acting. This is the perfect outlet. I work with the most amazing people in the studio for Sofia.

TFK:

What is Sofia like, and what do you admire about her?  Were you like her when you were 7, Sofia’s age?

ARIEL:

Sofia is a young girl who is courageous, smart, sweet, generous and brave. She never turns down a challenge, and always aims to help people and learn. Even as a teenager, I admire Sofia and I learn from her. I think I was a bit more rambunctious when I was Sofia’s age, to be honest, but I was also a lot like her. I was the perfect mix of girly-girl and tomboy, and I always wanted to help.

TFK:

How is acting in a recording studio different from acting in a live-action TV show or movie?

ARIEL:

It’s definitely different because with voice work you have to learn to express yourself only through your voice. When you record an animated show, no one will see the facial expressions or hand gestures you use to express how the character feels. Also, with voice work it doesn’t matter what you look like when you record. I can go in my pajamas if I want!

TFK:

You use a different voice for Sofia than your normal speaking voice. Is it hard to keep that going in the recording studio?

ARIEL:

I’ve been doing animation for years, so at this point it isn’t hard for me to distinguish between my voice and Sofia’s in the studio. As soon as I get into the booth and we start recording, I become Sofia. I think the biggest challenge for me would be to make sure I’m singing like Sofia. Singing in the voice isn’t hard, but making sure you have the same inflections as Sofia can sometimes be more difficult.

TFK:

Sofia is also starring in a new app, Sofia the First: Story Theater. Do you have a favorite app?

The Sofia the First: Story Theater app features a digital puppet theater that allows app users to record their own stories.

©DISNEY JUNIOR
The Sofia the First: Story Theater app features a digital puppet theater that allows app users to record their own stories.

ARIEL:

My favorite app for my iPhone or my iPad is Scramble With Friends. It’s a really addictive word game where you can challenge your friends to see who can find the most words in the jumble and get the most points. I love it!

TFK:

Sofia is the newest in a line of iconic Disney princess characters—one of whom you share a name with. Which Disney princess was your favorite growing up?

ARIEL:

Well I must say my favorite Disney princess now is that adorable Sofia character… When I was younger, though, my favorite Disney princess was Ariel the Little Mermaid! Obviously she would be my favorite because we share the same name, and I’ve always loved mermaids. In my opinion, she also has one of the best love stories, and I’m a complete sucker for love!

TFK:

What message do you hope viewers take away from Sofia the First?

ARIEL:

I hope young viewers learn that they can do anything they set their mind to and to never back down. I also hope they learn to be as gracious and smart as Sofia.

TFK:

This season on Modern Family, Alex has been adjusting to high school and having older sister Haley (Sarah Hyland) away at college. Now that Haley is back, what else is coming up for Alex this season?

ARIEL:

Alex and Haley always have awesome story lines! I love when Sarah Hyland and I have scenes together. Alex has really started evolving more during this fourth season, and this season she’s going through normal high school problems. With Haley gone, the balance in the house was thrown off, and Alex had to find someone new to pick on. Now that she’s back, there are more sister fights and adventures.

TFK:

How do you balance school and acting? What’s your favorite subject to study?

ARIEL:

I’ve always been really good with balancing my schooling and my acting. School was always very important to me, and I don’t think that is ever going to change. I have [always] gotten straight A’s! I make time for it. I also legally have to do three hours of school work each day on the set. I actually love every subject, but my least favorite most definitely has to be history!

TFK:

What are your hobbies? When we spoke to your costar Rico Rodriguez a few months ago, he mentioned something about making a zombie movie for the Modern Family kids...

ARIEL:

I do gymnastics, dance, singing and writing in my free time. I’ve been writing since I was little. I’ve started writing a few of my own projects, like short films and full-length screenplays. Yes, Rico, Nolan [Gould], and I are currently writing a zombie movie. As you know, I am the only girl, so I was outnumbered with the genre of the film!


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