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What it's like to be (well, voice) a Disney Princess

US television host and model Janet Hsieh poses on the red carpet as she arrives for the 6th Asian Film Awards in Hong Kong.

The Disney hit "Frozen" continues to rake in millions in ticket sales, this weekend coming back to the No. 2 spot in the box office rankings -- and not just in the U.S. 

The film's success has reached Taiwan*, where moviegoers can see the movie dubbed over in Mandarin. In the U.S., Kristen Bell plays the charming protaganist Princess Anna -- but in Taiwan, instead you'll hear the slightly accented voice of an American TV host named Janet Hsieh.

She's not a professional voiceover artist -- and she says this job was a special treat.

"Somebody from Disney called and said that they would love for us to be the voice of Anna," she says. "They thought that my personality was very similar to her. Our first reaction was, 'Are you sure you want me to do this in Chinese?'"

Hsieh is from Houston, and she laughs as she remembers worrying about her accent. She wrote out the entire script in romanization (pinyin) and worked with a voice coach, perfecting her pronunciation and timing her read to the animation on the screen.

The work was much different than hosting a TV show.

"Physically, you're just in the studio, and you're not speaking with anybody else," she says. "So you're acting with yourself and the microphone."

After the film came out, she was curious to know if her voice was recognizable, so she asked her Facebook friends. "They don't hear the accent. Once you get into the character, you don't hear Janet, per se. You see Princess Anna, and you think this is just a Mandarin-speaking Princess Anna."

Beyond her performance, "Frozen" might have an extra reason to be glad they cast Hsieh: Video sales.

"I'm seriously going to buy an entire truckful of Frozen DVDs to pass out to everybody and anybody who wants one."


*CORRECTION: The original version of this story incorrectly referred to a location where "Frozen" has had success. The movie has done well in Taiwan. The text and audio have been corrected.

About the author

Lizzie O'Leary is the new host of Marketplace Weekend.
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