Rockford native Jodi Benson previews ‘Disney 100: The Exhibition’

Growing up in Rockford and graduating from Boylan catholic high school, Jodi Benson appeared in her role in "The Little Mermaid" 34 years ago.
Published: Nov. 16, 2023 at 7:40 PM CST
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CHICAGO, Ill. (WIFR) - Celebrating a century of the Walt Disney Company, “Disney 100: The Exhibition” hosts 10 interactive galleries, with more than 250 pieces of art, props and costumes.

Making an appearance at the Chicago exhibition Thursday, was Jodi Benson, who portrayed Ariel in “The Little Mermaid” (1989).

Growing up in the stateline, Benson says she would not change anything about her early acting days.

“Everything was a surprise, like once I did the film, I had no idea that anyone would ever know who I was, because we were supposed to be anonymous,” Benson said. “I really didn’t know if I had the talent to be able to take it to the next level.”

Benson graduated from Boylan Catholic High School. 10 years later, she would be cast in “The Little Mermaid” (1989).

“I love Ariel, I love my character, I love what she stands for, I love that new generations can fall in love with her,” Benson said.

She says she has always loved the arts, but truly discovered her passion performing as a young Rockfordian.

“I started singing when I was probably 5 years old and started to do some community theater, took a few dance classes and then I was able to do a few shows during high school and also did the summer theater program at Rock Valley Starlight. It was a wonderful start in Rockford. I wouldn’t change a thing,” Benson said.

“Disney 100: The Exhibition” opens Saturday, Nov. 18 at the Exhibition Hub Art Center in Chicago. Tickets can be purchased on their website.