The princess diaries

Ashley Reynolds, Elsa impersonator


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Ashley Reynolds already had designs on becoming a princess, so when the 20-year-old Sacramento State University student was approached by a local character rental company to dress up as an Elsa impersonator at children’s birthday parties, she said yes to the fancy dress. After all, Elsa, the wildly popular character from the wildly popular animated Disney film Frozen, embodies Reynolds’ own take on life: Be independent, be hardworking, be ambitious and forget the typical fairy-book ending. Now, having had a taste of pretend royalty, the nose ring-wearing Rio Linda native explains how she’s got her sights set on climbing the princess ranks at Disneyland. Certainly, Elsa would approve.

How does one become an Elsa impersonator?

I work for a woman who has her own company, Character Connections. She picked me out of a crowd. I used to work at California Family Fitness and she goes there and she found me and she said, “I have a company that sends princesses out to birthday parties and you’d be perfect. You have the perfect voice, the perfect look.” My hair back then was white, literally white. I looked just like Elsa.

Your reaction?

I was like, “Oh my God.” It has always been my dream to do that. I have plans to, after college, to go to Los Angeles to become a Disney princess. I’m doing it.

Had you done any princessing before?

I had gotten offers from people asking, “Would you be Elsa at my friend’s birthday party?” But nothing that really followed through.

Are you a full-time princess now?

No, I work at a restaurant … [and] I study fashion. I initially wanted to be a fashion designer. I [want to] be a visual merchandiser, setting up the displays.

Are you a fan of the film?

Yes, I am obsessed. I was always telling all my friends I’m Elsa. I really love her.

What about her do you connect with?

I really like the movie because it’s all about he power of a woman, That’s why it’s so popular because she doesn’t have a happy ending with a man.

What’s it like going to a kids’ birthday party and showing up as a magical princess?

They all freak out, they all scream, they’re excited, they’re excited to see me. They’ll ask some hard questions that I have to play off. I always get, “Where are your powers? Show me your powers. Can you make it snow right now?”

What about the nose ring?

I flip it up.

Ah, so instant princess! Ever dressed up like another character?

I’ve only been Elsa. I would be another princess, though. [My boss] said she would use me as Sleeping Beauty as well but I don’t know how much Sleeping Beauty is in demand.

Or how demanding that would be. She just sleeps …

(Laughs.) I know …Yeah.

Perks to being a princess?

I like the attention. It’s an awesome job, you get to sit there and act like a princess. I love working with the kids and making them happy. I do glitter tattoos on them, I dance around.


You have to keep a smile all the time and sometimes I just want to lay down or slouch.

That’s where playing Sleeping Beauty might be good.

Right! I need to take a nap!

Who else would you like to play if you worked at Disneyland?

I would like to be Cinderella, but the thing that holds me back are the height requirements. I believe you have to be a certain height. I’m 5-foot-1-inch and I think I’m technically even too short for Elsa. I believe I can be Alice from Alice in Wonderland or Tinkerbell. I would love to be Alice … I like her personality. She's younger and fun and very excited all the time. I would be Tinkerbell, but I don't know how to act like her. She probably doesn't talk that much.

People often talk about how Frozen promotes female empowerment and feminism. Thoughts?

I actually feel quite strongly on that. I love the whole female empowerment thing. I have a lot of beliefs about marriage—I don’t even know if I want to get married. I don’t have a boyfriend. I’m very independent—like very “go go go.” I love to keep myself busy with school and work. I’d rather just focus on myself.

Do you consider yourself a feminist?

Sure. I’ve never called myself that … but I don’t know if you need a man in your life, to get married. I don’t know if everyone needs to get married.

Do you think kids get that message of independence from Frozen?

Yeah, and I think it’s awesome. It’s totally set up in our society: Go to school, get a job, get married, get a dog, have kids. Have a path to that family. … I think Elsa and Frozen are awesome in that it sets up a different pathway and a different role model for girls.