‘More like who I am’: Former Disney stars embrace new animated series bucking Hollywood


the Wingfeather Saga & Angel Studios
Jodi Benson (left), the voice of Disney’s Ariel, and Kevin McNally, who starred in the <i>Pirates </i>franchise, arrive for the premiere of <i>The Wingfeather Saga</i> in Nashville, Tennessee, Nov. 16, 2022. (Keoni Keur/Keoni Keur for Angel Studios)

‘More like who I am’: Former Disney stars embrace new animated series bucking Hollywood

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Actors Jodi Benson, the voice of Disney’s Ariel, and Kevin McNally from the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, said the emphasis on strong family relationships drew them to join The Wingfeather Saga project.

The new family series was released online Friday by Angel Studios after becoming the most crowdfunded animated show in history.


Benson told the Washington Examiner her role as Nia, the show’s featured mother, is different than any other character she has previously played, including Ariel in Disney’s 1989 The Little Mermaid.

“It’s different you know, between Ariel, and Barbie, and Thumbelina, and these other lovely, lovely characters who I adore, and that are interwoven into who I am as a person,” Benson said. “To play someone with a little bit more like who I am, you know as a mom, that’s really special. That’s been really fun.”

McNally, who described his role as Podo as “a crusty old grandad who’s very tough but adores his grandchildren and is trying to save them from a big family secret,” told the Washington Examiner that he appreciated the honesty of how The Wingfeather Saga handled the plight facing the family in the show.

“I’ve been in some pretty violent stuff,” McNally said, referencing his work with the Pirates franchise. “This has a lot of darkness in it as well, because life is full of light and dark, but I like the message of this. It’s that even in the darkest time, if you work together as a family or a group you can probably see it through.”

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Benson added that she was thrilled to get behind a project backed by faith-based Angel Studios.

“Once I found out who the team was and that they’re a faith-based organization and a company based on these beautiful stories, I was so excited when I got cast. It’s been really lovely and a really fun experience,” Benson said.

In addition to Benson and McNally, The Wingfeather Saga also features Lost’s Henry Ian Cusick.


As a crowdfunded project, The Wingfeather Saga is set to be a multi-season series. Through Angel Studios, it raised the annual crowdfunding limit of $5 million for season one in just 20 days, paving the way for the show’s production. The show is now raising funds for additional seasons.

Season one of The Wingfeather Saga can be streamed for free online or on the Angel app.

© 2022 Washington Examiner

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