Updated: Mar 28, 2019
The digital-first music-driven preschool series will air on Treehouse Direct’s YouTube channel starting today ahead of its linear channel premiere.
Miss Persona, a brand-new minute live-action series for preschoolers has launched on the Corus-owned Treehouse Direct YouTube channel today, Friday, September 21, prior to debuting on Treehouse’s linear channel in early 2019. Miss Persona features the titular little lady with a big imagination who takes care of the creatures that inhabit her forest world. Along the way, she solves problems as they arise with the help of her bowtie-wearing best friend, Brandon, and some upbeat tunes. The series’ creator, producer and songwriter, Kimberly Persona, stars as Miss Persona. Three-time Canadian Comedy Award nominee, Brandon Lane, serves as the showrunner and director. The supporting cast is comprised of Canadian television’s most recognized faces including Fred Penner (Fred Penner’s Place), Alyson Court (Big Comfy Couch), Joe Motiki (TVOKids The Crawlspace), puppeteer Mike Petersen (Fraggle Rock, Toopy and Binoo) and former WWE Superstar Anthony Carelli (Santino Marella). “I grew up loving preschool shows like Mr. Rogers, Mr. Dress Up, Big Comfy Couch and The Elephant Show,” said Kimberly Persona. “This series is a real modern day ‘love letter’ to the heart and integrity of those classics and I’m so grateful for the amazing opportunity that Nelvana has given me and my team to bring it to life.” Additionally, Miss Persona lined up a roster of innovative young directors for the series including: Joyce Wong (director, CSA nominated Wexford Plaza), Anne Douris (indie pop star Bossie), Adam Crosby (acclaimed July Talk music video director), Alyson Court (voice director, Magic School Bus Rides Again) and Andrew Hunt (YouTuber Andy Pandy).
Kimbery Persona's Interview with Blaine Schlechter
From the youthfully creative minds at Treehouse and Balloon House Productions comes the latest entertaining children’s show – Miss Persona. Kimberley Persona stars as the self-titled lead actress, Miss Persona, who plays the problem solving, dressing up saviour of Fix-It Up Forest. Kim, along with three-time Canadian Comedy Award nominee – Brandon Lane are excited to share Miss Persona with the world. I recently chatted with Kimberly about what the show means to them.
Congratulations on your latest adventure – Miss Persona.
Thank you. It’s our little baby.
Where did the idea or concept of Miss Persona come from?
My name is Kimberley Persona and the show is called Miss Persona so it really is my little baby. I had been performing for kids for live theatre audiences for about 5 or 6 years and I got this idea from my name, Persona, which actually means to wear a mask. I thought how fun it would be to do a dress up show like the ones I loved when I was a kid, like Mr. Dressup for example. The show really started to bloom from this little idea and finally, after 7 years, we made it happen.
You mentioned you have done some children’s theatre and you’ve also done some other fun children’s shows; did you know you always wanted to be involved in children’s television?
It was never something I knew I wanted to do, but in life you come across situations and you always take a different path and for me, performing for kids, I just started to realize what a huge impact it was and I started to fall more and more in love with the content. So, for me I didn’t know from the beginning that this was what I wanted to do. It was sort of a long love affair.
You mentioned Mr. Dressup, who was obviously one of my favorites as well, who were your other influences, who did you watch growing up as a child?
The Big Comfy Couch was huge for me. 10 second tidy I still do that and the clock stretch (laughs). That was a big show for me and it was a real honor because Alyson, who played Loonette the Clown, is actually in the show. It was amazing, we actually got to film in the same studio that Big Comfy Couch was filmed in. What else is really cool is that Alyson Court, when she was a kid, was one of the kids on Mr. Dressup. So it’s like really full circle for us to have her involved and it was actually her first opportunity to direct for live action production. She’s a very experienced voice animation director but she got to do live action, which for her was even more full circle, so it was very cool.
Me and my 5 year old have watched the first couple of episodes – she loved the singing and I loved the nostalgia factor with Fred Penner playing Grampy and you mentioned Alyson Court. Did you always intend to bring in some of the children slow legends on board or did it just work out that way?
It kind of worked out that way. You know when you sit in your living room and you’re having this dream and your like ‘ha, that’ll never happen’, well we though ‘ok, why not ask’? Alyson was one of the first ones to come on board. She had seen a previous production that we had done and was a fan of our work and once you get one yes, other people start to be like ‘what’s going on’ and they see what’s going on. I think for a long time Fred Penner wanted to work with Treehouse and it just so happened that it was just a great fit on this project – he was in town and the schedules lined up it was kind of like the clouds parted for us in that one moment.
It helps as a parent, I love to watch and just remember those moments for me watching all those shows and then I get to share it with my daughter, so it’s kind of cool.
Thank you. And just so you know, Fred Penner is just as awesome in real life. Seriously, he can juggle and do stuff like magic tricks, and he does bird whistles. I was like ‘this is amazing!’
You’ve obviously done some voiceover work and on camera work – do you have a preference in doing either one?
I’m old fashioned, I do love the voice work, but there’s something about touching a desk and touching a wall that kind of helps place you in that environment. Sometimes when you do voice work, the other actor’s not even actually in the room with you. I love camera work because it means you literally have to get everybody in the same place, you all have to have lunch together, you all have to sit in the literal chair next to one another and work and there’s something cool about that.
In the episodes you’ve already filmed…do you have a personal favorite moment yet?
Oh my gosh, I have so many! But I’ll give you two. One of them is an episode where Brandon Bear, my little best friend in the show, he’s my teddy bear, he’s non-verbal and he’s really excited and happy but he just doesn’t know how to express his feelings. So Miss Persona becomes a ballerina and the two of them express themselves through dance. There’s something about the video that really touches my heart. I don’t know what it is, there’s something about that cute little bear in his tutu that learned how to dance that just fills my heart with joy. The second one is that we ended up getting to cast Anthony Carelli, who was a WWE superstar, as our mailman and he couldn’t be funnier. He is the funniest man I have ever met. We did this episode called Fruit Pop Investigation where he delivers a fruit pop for me to eat on this really hot day and I give it to Brandon Bear, but when I turn around, the fruit pop is missing. It’s because it melted – spoiler alert. We go on an investigation and I blame Brandon for eating my pop and Anthony, he just plays the absolute, most hilarious mailman and that episode, for him…it’s good.
I would not be a good father if I didn’t ask a couple of questions that my daughter had for Miss Persona, if that’s alright. First she’d like to know what is Miss Persona’s favorite color?
Purple, easy answer.
Second question, how did Miss Persona meet her best friend Brandon Bear?
That’s a great question. In my mind, he’s sort of an adopted little brother. We’ll say that the natural stork brought him and he is very much a part of the family and he’s been there since he was a very little bear.
Thank you for answering her questions. I have to ask, is Brandon Bear secretly named after Brandon Lane – The series showrunner?
Thank you for asking that! He is so embarrassed about that (laughs). So the bear was actually named Bernard. When you write these scripts, you also have to put then through legal clearance and in fact, there are so many B names that have been copy written because of teddy bears out in the world. It was very, very challenging for us to find a name that started with a B and for us it was something that we really wanted. It just so happened that Brandon Bear cleared legally and we started to fall in love with it, so it was actually kind of accidental. I will say that subconsciously, it does make me feel more affectionate towards Brandon Bear inherently, because Brandon the showrunner is actually also my fiancé. The show is very near and dear to our hearts.
Its airing on the Treehouse Direct YouTube channel right now, for any parents who might not be familiar with Miss Persona…tell them a bit about the target age group and what they can expect when they see it.
The target age group is 2 – 6 I would say. What they’ll expect is that each episode follows a very similar format. Miss Persona greets the viewer in sort of a Skype like format. The intention of that was really to reflect the digital environment that these kids are being exposed to these days. And there’s a problem in some kind of way and she transforms into a costume that is suited to solve the problem of the day. So for instance, if Brandon Bear is taking the bus for the first time, he might be a little scared, a little nervous to do it but Miss Persona will dress up like a bus driver and she will show him what the experience will be like to help him feel more comfortable about riding the bus. It really explores imaginative dress up play in a very safe, warm environment.
How many episodes are out there now and how often do you plan on releasing new episodes?
We release two episodes a week and their both on Fridays. The series is available right now on YouTube through a channel called Treehouse Direct and it’s also being featured right now on the YouTube Kids App, which we’re really, over the moon happy about. Crossed fingers, if we’re so lucky, it will also start airing on Treehouse in January, so that’s pretty cool.
That’s very cool, we look forward to that.
Tamar Gibbert Partner, TARO PR