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Q&A with Writer of 'Vardavar' Episode: Kathleen Sarnelli Kapukchyan Reveals Journey of Bringing Armenian Heritage to Disney


"Mickey Mouse Funhouse" aired an episode titled "Vardavar"

Disney's animated series "Mickey Mouse Funhouse" aired an episode titled "Vardavar," last month marking the first-ever representation of Armenian culture in a Disney animation. The episode, which premiered on March 1, 2024, has garnered attention for its portrayal of the traditional Armenian festival of Vardavar, also known as the "Holiday of Water."

The writer behind "Vardavar," Kathleen Sarnelli Kapukchyan, shared insights into the creation process and the significance of featuring Armenian culture in the popular children's show. Kapukchyan graciously answered questions posed by The Armenian Report, shedding light on her inspiration and the response to the episode.





Q & A with Kathleen Sarnelli Kapukchyan:


Question: Can you describe how you pitched this story to Disney and the process it took for them to approve? 


Answer: I first pitched this episode to Disney when my son was just a couple of months old. I wrote a Día de los Muertos episode celebrating my son’s Mexican heritage, but I also wanted his Armenian heritage represented on Mickey Mouse Funhouse. I knew I wanted to write something that was uniquely Armenian, and I chose Vardavar because it is a fun water holiday where friends and family splash each other on a hot summer day! Luckily, when I pitched it to my Story Editor, Mark Drop, he immediately was on board and was super supportive and the Network Executives were also excited to learn more about Vardavar!


Question: Why do you think Disney agreed to your pitch? Because the Armenian community was excited to hear Armenian. 


Answer: I think Disney agreed with my pitch because Vardavar is a unique holiday that is super fun! Mickey and the gang learn about different cultures throughout Mickey Mouse Funhouse and experience lots of fun holidays such as Lunar New Year, Korean first birthday, Día de los Muertos, Christmas and now they get to experience Vardavar! Mickey Mouse Funhouse allows us to showcase different festivals and celebrations to children around the world. Mickey and the gang are always eager to meet new friends and learn about new holidays and I think our young audience enjoys it too!


Question: From all the different Armenian goddesses, why did you specifically choose Astghik? 


Answer: I chose Astghik because she was the goddess of water, love and beauty and she was celebrated during Vardavar! Vardavar is a holiday that brings family and friends together and I think Astghik represents friendship, unity and positivity! I knew Mickey and the gang would love to get to know her as a new pal and celebrate a water holiday where you can splash your friends and cool off!


Question: How has the response been to Astghik? 


Answer: I have gotten so many positive responses to Astghik, and I think it is because a lot of young Armenian children can see themselves represented on mainstream television. I had young women come up to me thanking me for writing a character that looks like them and speaks Armenian. I also have to give credit to the Mickey Mouse Funhouse team; it truly was a team effort to bring her to life in such a positive way!


Question: Do you have any future ideas and stories you’re trying to pitch to Disney that you can tease our readers with?


Answer: I do have more fun holiday episodes coming up that hopefully young children will love to learn about them and celebrate!"




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