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Update, March 27th, 2020, 10:24 p.m. ET: There’s officially a new must-add documentary for your coronavirus (COVID-19) quarantine watchlist. No, we’re not talking about Tiger King, but it is all about wild animals. Meghan Markle will narrate the Disney+ documentary Elephant, and it’s coming to the streaming service on April 3rd.
Whispers about Markle’s voiceover work started back in January with a report from UK publication The Times, but it hadn’t been confirmed by Disney or the duchess until now.
On March 26th, Disney+ tweeted an announcement about Markle’s involvement in the documentary, as well as its official poster.
— Disney+ (@disneyplus) March 26, 2020
Disney+ also posted a joint trailer of its new nature documentaries, Elephant and Dolphin Reef, which is narrated by Natalie Portman. “Elephant, narrated by the Duchess of Sussex,” the trailer says.
Two new movies, two unforgettable journeys. Start streaming @Disneynature’s Elephant, narrated by Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex, and Disneynature’s Dolphin Reef, narrated by Natalie Portman, on April 3, only on #DisneyPlus. pic.twitter.com/QrKAJw2cev
— Disney+ (@disneyplus) March 26, 2020
Here’s the official Elephant synopsis, according to Deadline:
“Elephant follows African elephant Shani and her son Jomo as their herd make a journey hundreds of miles across the vast Kalahari Desert. Led by their matriarch, Gaia, the family faces brutal heat, dwindling resources and persistent predators, as they follow in their ancestor’s footsteps on a quest to reach a lush, green paradise.”
Markle reportedly agreed to the voiceover work in exchange for Disney donating to Elephants Without Borders, a charity she has long been involved with.
Elephants Without Borders thanked Markle for her role, according to a tweet by royal reporter Omid Scobie today, March 27th.
“Thank you Meghan, because of you, this film brings knowledge and information to a global audience which in turn brings them closer to elephants. The impact will be global, reaching schools, most homes and more countries,” the statement reads, in part.
A statement from @ElesWoutBorders, who worked with Duchess Meghan and @Disneynature on the upcoming @Disneyplus movie #Elephant.
EWB, who support local communities and their coexistence with elephants, are one of the orgs chosen by @DisneyConserves to benefit from proceeds🐘 pic.twitter.com/DbDsQ5IRMK
— Omid Scobie (@scobie) March 27, 2020
We’d also like to thank Meghan for helping the elephants and for bringing us much-needed content as we practice social distancing from our homes.
Original post, January 13th, 2020: Meghan Markle and Prince Harry made a shocking announcement last week saying that they intend to step back as “senior” members of the royal family. In a statement, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex revealed that they’re gearing up toward becoming more financially independent. And now, word on the street is their first move is in the works. While Markle is scaling back on her duties as a royal, she’s reportedly shifting her energy toward a new but equally regal duty: becoming a Disney voice actor. If you think about it, this technically makes her a Disney princess.
Markle, who previously worked as an actress, has reportedly agreed to do voiceover work for Disney for an unspecified project, according to U.K. publication The Times.
But instead of receiving a monetary payment in exchange for her services, Markle made a deal with Disney to make a donation to Elephants Without Borders.
A wildlife conservation charity, Elephants Without Borders is an organization close to the couple’s heart. They worked with the charity back in August of last year.
🐘🐘🐘🐘🐘🐘🐘🐘 Today is #WorldElephantDay and we are pleased to announce that since we followed our friends at @ElephantswithoutBorders (EWB) on Instagram in July, when we were celebrating the environment, you and our friend @TheEllenFund (@TheEllenShow) have spread the word and EWB have been able to help protect 25 elephants by fitting them with satellite navigation collars! These collars allow the team at EWB to track the elephants, as well as to learn their essential migratory patterns to keep their corridors safe and open so future generations of elephants can roam freely. In honour of this amazing support, EWB have named their most recently collared Elephant...ELLEN! We can’t wait to see where she will go! 🐘 Two years ago on World Elephant Day, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex joined Dr Chase to help in this conservation effort. Below, a few words from Mike and his partner Kelly at EWB: • ‘Today is a day to honor and celebrate the majestic elephant and to make a strong stand for conserving and protecting one of the world’s most beloved animals. elephants are intelligent, sentient beings capable of emotions from joy to grief. They are ‘environmental engineers,’ a key-stone umbrella species, and the fight to save them is in effect, a fight to save entire ecosystems and all wildlife. Today elephants are facing many challenges; habitat loss and competition for resources creates conflict with humans, climate change and fires destroy much needed resources and poaching for the demand of ivory makes elephants bigger targets than ever. African elephants are especially prone to human-wildlife conflict because of their large home ranges. Finding, preserving and creating elephant corridors is therefore of great importance in helping to maintain habitats suitable for movement and minimising human-elephant conflict. Corridors are a mitigation technique to better the livelihoods of local communities and the elephants themselves, by providing environment and ample space for wildlife to navigate from one habitat patch to another, without affecting the livelihoods of communities.’ • EWB - Dr Mike Chase, Ms Kelly Landen . 📸 by DOS © SussexRoyal Additional photos: EWB
A post shared by The Duke and Duchess of Sussex (@sussexroyal) on Aug 12, 2019 at 6:00am PDT
Neither Disney nor Markle have confirmed the deal. It’s also not clear when it was signed, before or after the royals’ decision to step down. If it does happen to be real, it’s just the latest addition to Meghan and Harry’s philanthropic initiatives. It also marks the duchess’s first acting job since she quit showbusiness in 2018.
As if news of Meghan becoming a Disney princess weren’t fascinating enough, it appears that Prince Harry was the one who helped her score the deal.
A video of him and Disney CEO Bob Iger recently resurfaced, and in it, the royal can be heard telling Iger that Meghan would be interested in doing voiceovers.
A clip procured by The Shade Room showed the whole exchange, with a surprise cameo from no other than Beyoncé. “You know she does voiceovers?” Harry told Iger to which he replied, “Oh really? Ah.” Harry asked if Bob was aware of it, but his response was, “I did not know that.” Harry then implied that Meghan was indeed interested, “You seemed surprised, but yeah, she’s really interested.” Bob eventually showed interest, “Sure, we’d love to try.”
While the Disney gig is a charitable contribution, it does set a precedent for what sorts of projects we can expect from Meghan and Prince Harry. An actual Disney princess movie soon, perhaps? It never hurts to wish!