A Magical Experience: CT Actress in Disney's ‘Encanto'

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As Hollywood gears up for the Oscars, one of the biggest movies in contention has a Connecticut connection.

Disney’s smash hit “Encanto” is delighting audiences of all ages with its magical tale set in Colombia of an ordinary girl in an extraordinary family, and some of the very first characters we meet onscreen were voiced by a homegrown talent from Fairfield.

Brooklyn Skylar Rodriguez was just a regular kid attending Fairfield’s Jennings Elementary School. But life changed the day she got the phone call letting her know she was cast in the animated feature.

“I was like, 'I don’t believe this, I got the job!'” she said. “And then I was jumping around!”

Rodriguez spoke exclusively to NBC Connecticut’s Heidi Voight from her new home in Saint Augustine, Florida where the family moved this year.

The 8-year-old voices three characters known as the “Town Kids.” They follow main character Mirabel Madrigal in the opening scenes, asking about her family’s magical gifts, and are seen again throughout the rest of the film.

“I play Cecilia, Alejandra, and the third one she doesn't have a name,” Brooklyn said.

You may not know their names but if you’ve seen it, you know their now-famous lines, including “Maybe your gift is being in denial,” and “She was about to tell us about her super awesome gift!”

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Brooklyn Skylar Rodriguez

Making a movie during a pandemic posed a challenge. Brooklyn and all the other actors each recorded their voiceover work in remote studios while being directed by Jared Bush, Byron Howard, and Lin-Manuel Miranda via Zoom. The main cast didn’t even meet each other until the film’s scaled-down, socially-distanced premiere.

“I went to New York to record my lines,” she said. “And I saw my character on the screen and it was so cool.”

But seeing it all come together on screen was pure Disney magic.

“It was like, so incredible,” she said. “I just feel so special to be part of this movie because it sends a beautiful message like that you just got to be yourself. That everybody has a gift. And that, like, family's special. And to be kind because you don't know what other people are going through. So be kind,” Brooklyn said.

Becoming part of Disney history is an incredible opportunity for the young actress with a bright future and a big heart, who adds with a smile, “I just wanted to give a shout out to Bruno because he doesn't get that much love!”

Encanto premiered in theatres in November but exploded in popularity after being released via Disney+ in December. Its soundtrack by Lin-Manuel Miranda went viral, reaching number one on the Billboard charts with hit singles like “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” and “Surface Pressure.” It’s received critical acclaim for its cultural representation, emotional depth, animation and musical score.

The movie received three Oscar nominations for best original score, best original song for “Dos Oruguitas” and best animated feature, and has already won the Golden Globe Award for Best Animated Feature Film at the 79th Golden Globe Awards.

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