Life & Style | Alaska Native girl leads animated kids TV show in US first

Princess Daazhraii Johnson grew up eating dried salmon and moose-head soup — foods labeled weird by other kids who had no understanding of her culture and traditions.

Now the Fairbanks woman and other Alaska Natives are presenting their world to a general audience with “Molly of Denali,” the nation’s first-ever children’s series featuring indigenous leads.

The animated show, which premieres July 15 on PBS Kids, highlights the adventures of a 10-year-old Athabascan girl, Molly Mabray. Her family owns the Denali Trading Post in the fictitious community of Qyah, whose residents are both Native and non-Native.

Freeform supports Halle Bailey’s Ariel casting amid backlash

A Disney-owned cable network has taken aim at critics who disagreed with the decision to cast Halle Bailey as Ariel in the upcoming adaption of “The Little Mermaid.”

Freeform posted an open letter on Sunday in support of Bailey after some on social media used the hashtag #NotMyAriel to object to a black woman portraying the red-headed mermaid princess of the animated film. But the network says “Danish mermaids can be black because Danish (asterisk)people(asterisk) can be black.”

Bailey is half of the sister duo Chloe x Halle. She will star in the live-action version that will include songs from the 1989 animated Disney hit as well as new tunes from original composer Alan Menken and “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Bailey will join Jacob Tremblay and Awkwafina in the film.

Fear, glory for Spain’s mounted bullfighters

Of all the traditions surrounding the world of bullfighting, the “rejoneo” — mounted bullfighting — is among the least understood.

Those who love it consider it a skilled art form. Others see it as a cruel and bloody crime for the sake of entertainment. Some also believe that the “rejoneador,” mounted on a horse and armed with his lance, takes a more cowardly approach to bullfighting compared to the traditional matador, who faces his victim-to-be on foot.

Nothing is farther from reality, says Roberto Armendáriz, a 33 year-old “rejoneador” who says he feels “a great deal of responsibility” every time he steps out into the bullring with one of his highly trained stallions.

There’s also much fear to confront, says Armendáriz, who performed last weekend in the bullring of his native Pamplona, the city hosting Spain’s annual running of the bull races during the famed San Fermin festival that inspired American writer Ernest Hemingway.

Grand Ole Opry tours get updated with new immersive film

FILE – In this May 1, 2013, file photo, people visit the the Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville, Tenn. A new immersive film showing at the Circle Room explains the history of the Grand Ole Opry while showing video clips of over 100 different artists on stage. The 14-minute film is hosted by Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, File)

The backstage of the Grand Ole Opry, a radio staple since 1925, is a place where you might run into your favorite country star, drop a letter in a singer’s mailbox or take a peek inside a dressing room where an impromptu jam session is happening.

Every year, 1 million people come to the Opry House in Nashville, Tennessee, to see a performance, or event, or take one of the backstage tours that allow fans to see behind the red curtain on the “show that made country music famous.”

And a new feature this year on those tours is an immersive film that explains the history of the unique institution while showing video clips of over 100 different artists on stage. The 14-minute film is hosted by Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood and is projected onto three screens inside the new Circle Room, which is the first stop for fans on the Opry’s daily tours.

Country singer Jeannie Seeley is coming up on her 52nd year as a member of the Grand Ole Opry, one of only three living female artists who have been members longer than 50 years. The singer who had a hit with “Don’t Touch Me” in 1966, has seen the radio program, the Opry House and its tours transform and be updated over the years.

“It is so alive. It is so realistic,” said Seeley of the new film.

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