Photo courtesy of Walt Disney Studios.
As the former star of Whose Line Is It Anyway? and the current host of the long-running game show Let's Make a Deal, actor/comedian Wayne Brady, 40, is perfectly at home in the spotlight.
And, after having appeared in episodes of 30 Rock and How I Met Your Mother, he's since settled himself into his latest gig as the voice of Clover the Rabbit in the new animated Disney Junior series, Sofia the First. You may have already heard about this television phenomenon, which made its sneak peek debut this past December to rave reviews.
This fairy tale adventure series officially marks its debut on Saturday, January 19 on Disney Junior Canada at 7:00 p.m. (EST). Also featuring the voices of Modern Family's Ariel Winter, Grey's Anatomy star Sara Ramirez and Project Runway's Tim Gunn, Sofia the First may become a family staple in your household.
In anticipation of its launch, we chatted with Brady about the show — and why it's sure to be a family favourite.
Describe Clover the Rabbit in five words.
Attitudinal. Hungry. Brash. Fuzzy. Hip.
Did you ever think you'd be playing a bunny?
I never discounted it. (laughs) That's what you become an actor for, to be open to opportunities. And while I've done a lot of stuff, I never saw a bunny coming. But now that I'm doing it, I wouldn't change it for the world.
Who was your favourite Disney character growing up?
Easy question! It was Tigger because I loved his energy. I mean, who gets around by hopping on a springing tail? I just thought it was the coolest thing in the world as a young kid. And it wound up being a full-circle experience for me because when I turned 16 one of my first jobs ever was at Walt Disney World playing characters, and the first character I ever did was Tigger. So, I love me some Tigger!
Sofia the First had a massive debut this past December with about 2.5 million viewers. What is it about the show that you think kids love so much?
I think the show hits the prime demographic with little girls. From what I understand with my own daughter, there were two or three years where she ran around the house dressed in nothing but Disney Princess wear that we got from the Disney store. So she was either dressed as Belle or Cinderella or Jasmine. We had all of those costumes and she would live in them. And why? Because she wanted to be a princess. I think the cool thing about this show is that it speaks to being a princess and, for the first time, it's not like the little girl is looking at Cinderella and wanting to be Cinderella, it's a little girl looking at another little girl being a princess. And I think that really resonates with them. Instead of a "one day you can grow up to be this" it's "oh, she's just like me!"
How did you come to be involved in the project?
There was a phone call. I was asked if I'd be interested in this cartoon since I do quite a bit of voice-over work. I said 'well, send over the script' and they said 'no, it's a Disney cartoon.' Well the 'yes' was out of my mouth before I even knew what it was. Then, once I heard the sample song that we used in the pilot episode where Clover sings that the reason why animals do things for [princesses] is because of food, I laughed. And I thought, 'OK, this is smart and really, really funny.' There's something for parents to laugh at and the little girls will love it. So I was onboard immediately.
Has your nine-year-old daughter seen the show yet?
Yes, I took her to the premiere with me and she paid me the best compliment. She's been around me her whole life and she knows what I do for a living and she's followed me all over the world on tour and in the studios. But when she saw the movie she was so engrossed that, even though she knew that I was in it, she forgot that it was me because she just got so wrapped up in the story and the songs. That was great.
What is your best piece of parenting advice?
Ooooh. It would be to listen. Listen to your kid because it's easy to get caught up in the "well, I'm the parent and you're going to do what I say because…" That's the easy way out. I'm not saying I don't say that sometimes because there are some days when you get so frustrated at your kid. But you should listen because maybe what they're telling you is what they really need or want and you can use that instead of jumping immediately to the default setting of "because". That's something that I have to remind myself of everyday because it's easy to get frustrated sometimes.
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