From left, Brie’s Best Guest actors and actresses Jacob Sutherland as Prince Charming, Jericah Potvin as Cinderella, Caleb Streadwick and Hannah Perry as Snow White and her prince, attend an event to help raise funds for children’s adaptive equipment.

“We’re just a bunch of princesses trying to make a difference.”

Brie Roche is leading a team of actresses and actors that portray princesses and princes to raise money for local organizations and be positive role models to area children.

Roche is a Scarborough native and a 2017 graduate of the teaching program at the University of Southern Maine. While she and her team, which include her twin sister Samantha, Grace Fosler of Scarborough, and Joanna Clarke of Windham, may all only be in their mid-20s, but they are working together to make a big difference in southern Maine.

Brie’s Best Guests was founded a year and a half ago. Roche had been performing as a princess at work events and birthday parties, and was able to assemble a team of fellow actresses to grow the pool of princesses.

The princesses will appear at the Jingle + Mingle holiday open house event at the Animal Welfare Society in West Kennebunk on Saturday, Dec. 8, where Roche is the humane educator.

The team performs at birthday parties and events, and those parties pay for costumes and other necessities, affording them the ability to participate in many charity events throughout the area. This will be a busy month for performing at toy drives and other charity holiday events.

Each of the actresses has a princess they specialize in and receive the first chance to perform if their princess is requested at an event. There are certain princesses, specifically those of color, which only certain actresses will play.

“We think that representation and inclusion are really important, so, for example, if a party requests a Hawaiian princess, we would call Ashley (Ellis),” said Fosler, who specializes in Cinderella and a snow queen.

On Dec. 2, Brie’s Best Guests hosted largest fundraiser to date, a holiday cookie party to benefit the Robbie Foundation, a nonprofit organization that works to improve the quality of life for special needs children by funding adaptive equipment. The holiday fundraiser was held in the lobby of Lyric Music Theater, hosted 40 children and their parents, and featured 15 princes and princesses. For some of the actors, it was their first time as “royalty.”

“I checked in with some of the actors after the event and asked if they had a good time, and they were all surprised by how much fun it is to do this. We’re really lucky to be able to do this,” Clarke said.

Jackson Libby of Portland, 3, gives a snow princess (Brie Roche) a hug during the Brie’s Best Guests holiday fundraiser for the Robbie Foundation.

In addition to being a memorable event for the kids in attendance, Brie’s Best Guests raised $1,200 for the foundation. The event was $15 per child and sold out a month in advance.

“When Brie approached us and told us they wanted their holiday fundraiser to benefit the Robbie Foundation, we were so excited,” said Robbie Foundation founder Lynn Gierie, who attended the Dec. 2 event. “We’re thrilled to have such a great event to benefit kids with special needs.”

During the event, children were able to interact with the princesses and princes during a series of activities that included decorating cookies, making Christmas cards and cutting out snowflakes.

“We love coming to events like these,” said Crystal Giordano, who attended the holiday party with her son, River, 4. River told every princess at the event that she was his favorite. “In our house, boys like princesses, too,” Giordano said.

Gorham Village Baking Company donated cookies. Members of the organization baked additional cookies that were tailored to dietary restrictions of attendees.

The actors portraying the princes and princesses are briefed prior to events on how to approach children who are nervous or shy about meeting them to ensure every child has a positive experience.

“Events like this can be really overwhelming for a little kid, and we don’t ever want them to feel like they have to interact with us,” Roche said. “We want them to know that it’s OK to be shy. We want them to be comfortable, special.”

Of the core “princesses,” each has a special focus that they bring to the table. For Clarke, she chooses to use this opportunity to promote a healthy body image.

“It’s important to me that kids see that a princess can be funny, charming. I want them to see that a princess can eat pizza,” Clarke said. “It’s about so much more than being pretty, or a size 2.”

For Fosler, she chooses to focus on knowing your emotions and being a strong influence on young women, and for Roche, every event is an opportunity to learn.

“Hey, I get it, princesses get a bad rep. We think it’s important for them to see princesses and princes who are kind, who don’t judge people, are smart, know how to read and are strong. Qualities that are important for all people to learn,” Roche said.

Many of the members of Brie’s Best Guests have either worked with children extensively, so they have a unique opportunity to work communally to decide where they can make the biggest difference in the community and the best influence on children. While the team avoids being political, they participated this year at Portland Pride as “true love advocates,” according to Clark and Roche. Brie’s Best Guests also works extensively with the Make a Wish Foundation and other child welfare nonprofits.

“We put on a wig and a ball gown and try to make a difference,” said Roche. “And why not? It’s a lot of work, but we have a lot of fun. It’s so worth it.”

Staff Writer Abigail Worthing can be reached at [email protected].

 

 

 

 

From left, Brie’s Best Guest actors and actresses Jacob Sutherland as Prince Charming, Jericah Potvin as Cinderella, Caleb Streadwick and Hannah Perry as Snow White and her prince, attend an event to help raise funds for children’s adaptive equipment.

 

 

Jackson Libby of Portland, 3, gives a snow princess (Brie Roche) a hug during the Brie’s Best Guests holiday fundraiser for the Robbie Foundation.

 

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