Liana Bdéwi brings Armenian representation to Disney as the voice of Astghik

We all heard the voice of the Armenian goddess Astghik in Disney’s Mickey Mouse Funhouse and saw the immense joy it brought to our children. It was the first time an Armenian character was introduced at Mickey Mouse Funhouse

The voice behind Astghik is that of Liana Bdéwi. Bdéwi’s mom is Armenian from Egypt, and her dad is Lebanese, raised in Bourj Hammoud. Bdéwi was born and raised in Montreal, Canada. She went to a trilingual school until the sixth grade, École Notre-Dame de Nareg, where she studied English, French and Armenian. Bdéwi attended Dawson College’s professional theater program. She moved to Toronto in 2012 to continue her education in musical theater at Randolph College. 

Liana Bdéwi

“I started voiceover shortly after graduating in 2014 by accident. I took a few commercial voiceover workshops for fun and realized it was something I wanted to pursue further. I signed with my Toronto agent in early 2015, and it grew from there. Additionally, in 2015, I learned how to puppeteer for a Golden Girls puppet show called ‘Thank You For Being a Friend.’ Since 2015, I’ve acted in theater, voiceover and film and have been a puppeteer for various shows across Canada. In 2018, I decided to start my voiceover business and have been doing it full-time ever since,” Bdéwi told the Weekly.

Bdéwi’s agent, Portia Scott of Coast to Coast Talent Group in Los Angeles, got her the audition for the voice of Astghik in January of 2023. She was shocked at the casting call. “I freaked out and recorded my audition right away. I got a call back a week later. Shortly after, they booked me for the role. A month after the initial audition, I went into a studio in Toronto and recorded Astghik. I made sure I was super prepared. It was a stressful but exciting experience,” Bdéwi said. 

Disney Junior’s Mickey Mouse Funhouse is an animated series featuring Mickey Mouse, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, Goofy and Pluto. Geared to kids ages two to five and their families, the show, which premiered in August 2021, features an enchanted playhouse that takes the group of friends on adventures to unique worlds. In the third and latest season, they travel to the Enchanted Rainforest, the Old West, Movie Magic Land and culturally rich locations including Armenia, Korea and India.

In the “Vardavar!” episode, which premiered on Disney Channel and Disney Junior on March 1 and on Disney+ in May, the gang celebrates the Armenian holiday by splashing water on each other. Astghik invites Minnie to wear her new dress, a pink taraz.

When the episode aired, Bdéwi saw her phone blow up. The Armenian Film Society tagged her on social media, and she realized just how much of an impact the episode had made in the community. The Armenian representation helped children feel seen. 

“I had never had so many nice messages from strangers. One lady said her daughter had been smiling all day, watching the clips. When it premiered, I didn’t realize it was a milestone event. Watching the fully produced episode, I was in awe of how it all came together. The script was so good, thanks to Kathleen Sarnelli Kapukchyan, and the song was fabulous! The episode hasn’t aired in Canada yet, but the music video for the episode song is on YouTube,” Bdéwi said.

“As Armenians, we are always searching for our names in the credits. This episode encompassed culture, food, taraz, song, the Armenian language and tradition. It was great to have Armenian culture showcased in this way,” she continued.

Liana Bdéwi’s studio

In addition to Astghik, Bdéwi is the voice of Sonya in “Sonya from Toastville” and Luna in “Luna, Chip and Inkie” on Knowledge Kids. She also voices the English dub for Pulao in “Punishing Gray Raven.” 

Bdéwi’s advice for those wanting to do her line of work is very impactful. “Take acting classes! Voice acting is more about acting than the voice. Acting classes and programs will teach you how to dissect a script, how to take direction and how to improvise. It’s challenging to succeed in voiceover without any acting training or performance experience. Singing lessons are also needed! They teach breath control, vocal health (so important!) and vocal warmups. A standard voiceover session can go up to four hours, which can be physically draining (and potentially damaging to your voice) without proper training,” she said. 

Bdéwi added, “I want to say a big thank you for the outpouring of love and support I’ve received from Armenians all over the diaspora. It was truly such an honor to voice Astghik and to be one of the first Armenian characters represented at Disney.”

Talar Keoseyan

Talar Keoseyan

Talar Keoseyan is a mother, educator and writer. She is the author of Vanna's Adventures (discusses Armenian traditions and customs); Mom and Dad, Why Do I Need to Know My Armenian Heritage? (a children's book about being proud of our heritage); Our Tigran and Tigran's Song (written in honor of Tigran Harutyunyan, a fedayee from the 44 Day War). Talar was a member of the Philadelphia AYF (Papken Suni and Sebouh chapters), as well as Homenetmen, Hamazkayin and ARS. She is currently a member of the La Crescenta "Talin" ARS chapter. She can be reached at talar725@gmail.com or Hokees1111 on Instagram.

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