Neighbor Maya Pearson is making dreams come true for East Dallas children. Dressed as princesses from their favorite movies, she sings and dances for kids stuck indoors because of the coronavirus. “This was the perfect opportunity to share my gifts with the neighborhood and bring some excitement to the kids,” she says. Pearson, who lives near Mockingbird Elementary, performs as several Disney princesses, plus Anya from “Anastasia.” Visits last anywhere from 15 minutes to half an hour and include songs from the movies and their Broadway counterparts. Children also have time to talk with their favorite characters and ask questions. “Kids are super impressionable, and when they see a princess having kind answers to questions, I’m trying to set a good example,” she says. Pearson, 19, graduated from Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts and is pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts in musical theater at Sam Houston State. She hopes to one day work as a Disney princess. “Disney holds a high standard for who they hire, so this isn’t something I take lightly,” Pearson says. “I’m trying to do it in a thoughtful and respectful way.” We talked with Pearson about how she’s spreading cheer to neighborhood kids during the coronavirus pandemic.
What sparked this idea?
It technically was my mother’s idea. She mentioned it offhand and said, “Remember how you wanted to do that princess party thing?” It never worked out because contracts were like six months, and I’m never in Dallas that long. She said, “I did mention it to you, but it’s because of you. I think you would have come to this idea on your own.” It’s a way for me to practice my craft. They always say in theater, if you have the gift, it’s something you should share with others.
What princess is your favorite to portray?
I think Cinderella has been the most fun. Most people ask for Cinderella and Elsa. With Elsa, it’s fun to see the kids react. They like a lot of the older princesses, but she’s the princess of their generation. When Elsa steps out of the car, they’re like, “Oh my gosh.” Cinderella is fun for me because I get to live out that princess fantasy. I get to have the gown and the earrings and the gloves. When I’m in full Cinderella garb, it’s like she stepped out of the TV and into their driveway.
Is there a visit that stands out to you?
At the end of a visit, I said my favorite breakfast is pancakes. The girl stopped dead in her tracks, and her jaw hit the floor. She was like, “Cinderella eats pancakes too.”
Where did you find the ball gown?
We found the costume through the Lakewood Facebook group. We asked if anyone had princess gowns and said we’d immediately return them after quarantine. A really kind woman reached out and said she had a dress she had worn for a Halloween or theater party. She said there were some rips in the back, but [my mom and I] both sew, so we could fix all that. It’s a beautiful gown. We were blown away by it. The woman said, “Keep it. It will be in much better care with you.”
Will you expand to other neighborhoods?
It’s a hard question. I would love to, but I want to set a good example and not break social distancing rules set by the local government. Almost everyone I’ve talked to said, ‘What you’re doing is safe,’ so I think it would be OK. I’m going to ask a couple of friends who work for the City of Dallas.
How can parents arrange a visit?
Parents can private message me on Facebook or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I have a Google form when they’re interested in booking. They can pick from eight options for my costume. I advertise a “Cinderella-like” character because I don’t want to get in trouble with Disney. There’s also Anya from “Anastasia” and Ariel, but no red hair yet. I ordered a wig. We’ll see if it gets here. I have Elsa and Anna. For Elsa, I wear the Cinderella dress without gloves. I put Belle on here too. My mom found a dress on eBay, and [the seller] is going to ship it. The last option is for me to just show up and sing songs to your kids.
This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.
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