Former Disney artist says characters are only allowed to speak English in viral video
A former Walt Disney World character actor has gone viral on TikTok for revealing a rule that she said she was “shocked” that people weren’t already aware of.
Jessica Tremmel, who posts to TikTok from the @tremainetok account, said News week she worked at the park for three years and played dozens of costumed characters (think Mickey Mouse) and as a “face actor” (characters whose faces show up and in turn interact with guests).
It was her experience as a face actress, playing Lady Tremaine, Cinderella’s stepmother, that this rule came into play.
In a now viral video viewed over 1.2 million times, Tremmel explained that in their character, actors are not allowed to speak languages other than English. In the video, which she captioned “Things I Could Have Been Fired For …”, she confessed that she sometimes breaks this rule, knowing both French and Spanish, to communicate. with guests who did not speak English.
“I loved going up to tables where people didn’t speak English and surprised them that I spoke their language,” she said in the video.
Tremmel said in a follow-up video that this rule is due to “character integrity,” which means it’s important that every actor playing Lady Tremaine, for example, speaks the same way. If one actor speaks Spanish and the other does not, consistency is lost.
She said News week that while at first glance the rule makes sense, the rule is inconsistent in parks around the world. In fact, Tremmel said, artists are encouraged to be multilingual in parks like those in Hong Kong and Paris.
If the rule “is going to be justified by integrity of character,” she said. News week, then there should be interpreters available for non-English speaking guests to ensure that they can have the same experience as those who speak English. Or, she said, character performers would need to be able to pass the same language tests that are available to other non-costume Disney World staff in order to be approved as multilingual.
She said that by the time of her employment at the park in the early 2010s, it was made very clear to her during training that artists were not allowed to communicate other than in English. Now, however, she has said that there are certain characters approved to be bilingual, like Princess Elena, a relatively recent addition to the Disney Princess family. Tremmel said that when Park initially cast for the role, it was imperative that the actor speak Spanish.
News week has contacted Walt Disney World for comment.
A commentator explained that Lady Tremaine could have spoken French given that the Cinderella story is set in France.
“[T]The Cinderella story is set in France, so it would make sense for these characters to understand at least French, ”she said in response to the comment.“ That being said, it is very difficult to choose actors in the States. -Unis who speak French. “
Although she was never caught breaking this rule while working at Disney, Tremmel said she knew other artists who were surprised, especially those who use American Sign Language (ASL ). It can happen, she said, either because someone reports it or if a video goes viral of the artist interacting with a guest.
“[W]That’s another reason I’m very verbal about not filming characters for viral videos, ”Tremmel said. News week.
She said a big reason for sharing her story online is to “give a voice to the voiceless” – real people playing the characters. Tremmel said News week that working at Disney World was one of the “most difficult” and “traumatic” jobs of his career.
“[Performers] are often treated as if they are cartoon characters rather than real people, ”said Tremmel.