SEATTLE -- A new PBS Kids cartoon series featuring the voice of an Auburn teenager is the first children’s series to feature a Native American from Alaska as the lead character.
The name of the show -- and the main character -- is "Molly of Denali," a 10-year-old girl who is part of a Native tribe in a fictional village in Alaska. But the voice behind Molly is from the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe. Her name is Sovereign Bill.
We recently got a chance to talk with 14-year-old Sovereign about the significance of doing this show.
“Most of the kids just tried it for experience, and then, I actually got a call back in,” said Sovereign.
Molly has daily adventures in her fictional Alaskan village. The series not only introduces kids to the importance of reading and writing, but also teaches them about Native American life in Alaska.
“This opportunity, this cartoon just means that there’s going to be a real representation, a real good representation of Native peoples in the television world, because there hasn't really always been a good representation,” she said.
But portraying native life and living it are one in the same for Sovereign. It’s something she doesn’t take for granted. And it’s a learning experience for her, too.
“I'm also getting taught by the cultural advisers and people along the way who want to talk to me, who want to share their experience or what they’ve had to go through and how proud they are of this,” she said.
For Sovereign's dad, the fact that she is an actor is a bit surreal.
“Her prior acting experience had consisted of one play where she had the lead role in Annie, and with the native youth theater group, Red Eagle Soaring,” said Willard.
It’s also been a lot of hard work for both of them.
“Scheduling is the big one, because she’s also in sports. She’s a varsity water polo player this spring. So, balancing all of that, and also she’s an emerging teenager,” said Willard.
But for Sovereign, this adventure is all worth it.
“This has been a great experience. And I think I want to pursue it more,” said Sovereign.
Producers of the show said they collaborated a lot with Alaska native advisers and consultants.
“Molly of Denali" airs on PBS Kids.