The newest PBS Kids star debuts Monday, July 15 – and she’s already breaking new ground.
Molly of Denali follows the adventures of feisty and resourceful 10-year-old Molly Mabray, an Alaska Native girl who lives in an Alaskan village. The animated series premieres 7:30 a.m. Monday, July 15 on Wisconsin Public Television, as well as on the PBS KIDS 24/7 channel and PBS KIDS digital platforms.
Molly of Denali is the first nationally distributed kids’ show in the U.S. to feature a Native American lead. All Indigenous characters are voiced by Indigenous actors, including Molly, voiced by Alaska Native Sovereign Bill.
Read on to learn more about this fun, action-packed addition to the PBS Kids lineup!
“Molly of Denali is an amazing program that we are proud to share with Wisconsin!” says Alyssa Tsagong, WPT’s Director of Education. “I am so grateful for the generosity of the Alaskan Native communities in sharing their culture with children and families through this beautiful program. Our education department at WPT has been inspired by the deliberate, inclusive production process that the Molly of Denali team has undertaken to accurately represent many voices with nuance and authenticity.”
In the fictional Alaskan village of Qyah, Molly helps her mom, Lyla (a bush pilot), and dad, Walter (a wilderness guide), run the Denali Trading Post, a general store, bunkhouse, and transport hub. Each episode follows Molly, her dog Suki and her friends Tooey and Trini on their daily adventures in Alaska, from fishing to building snow forts to delivering a camera to friends on a volcano via dog sled.
With an emphasis on family and intergenerational relationships, episodes of Molly of Denali model Alaska Native values, such as respecting others, sharing what you have and honoring your elders –all while showcasing contemporary aspects of rural life, including strong female role models and the ways technology aids in communication.
“When I was growing up, Indigenous people weren’t reflected in television and film,” said Princess Daazhraii Johnson (Neets’aii Gwich’in), creative producer for Molly of Denali. “When an Indigenous person was portrayed, it was usually a stereotype. What makes the Molly of Denali series so exciting is that Alaska Native voices were incorporated from the start of the show, and WGBH and PBS KIDS continue to incorporate more Alaska Native voices at every level of production. We can’t wait for Native youth to see themselves in Molly and her friends.”
Molly of Denali includes Alaska Native voices in all aspects of the production, both on camera and behind the scenes. Every Indigenous character is voiced by an Indigenous actor. Producers developed Molly of Denali with a working group of Alaska Native advisors, and is creating opportunities for developing Alaska Native talent via a scriptwriting fellowship.
The show also provides a window into the Alaskan experience through live-action interstitials featuring local children and regions, filmed by Alaskan production teams.
“What began with the idea of creating a show based on the joy children find in ‘playing store’ has evolved into the story of kids and community, and an authentic reflection of life in Alaska, with an important Informational Text curriculum to support it,” said WGBH Executive Producer Dorothea Gillim.
“The show also reinforces for children that no matter where they’re from or where they live, we are all much more alike than we are different,” said Johnson.
DON’T MISS: The Molly of Denali prequel podcast is here! Rooted in Native storytelling, eight episodes share the rollicking story of how Suki (an Alaskan Malamute, equal parts brave and smart) charged into Molly’s life and became a part of her family.