Voiced by nonbinary actor Ezra Menas, Odee will debut in the Pride-themed episode "Whatever Floats Your Float."
The third season of DreamWorks' popular animated series Madagascar: A Little Wild will introduce the show's first nonbinary character, "Odee Elliot" the Okapi. Voiced by actor Ezra Menas, who is nonbinary and uses zie/hir/they pronouns, Odee will debut in the Pride-themed episode "Whatever Floats Your Float." According to Entertainment Weekly, the episode written by Laura Zak will also feature a new original song called "Be Proud!"—written by the show's songwriter, Alana Da Fonseca— an ode to people being proud of who they are in all aspects of their lives.
'Madagascar: A Little Wild' will introduce nonbinary character named Odee Elliott in an upcoming new episode.— Cartoon Crave (@thecartooncrave) May 25, 2021
The new season premieres this Thursday on Peacock and Hulu.
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"Whatever Floats Your Float" will follow the gang as they prepare for the habitat's annual Animal Pride Parade. Marty the Zebra (Amir O'Neil) struggles to figure out which float would be apt for Odee, given their zebra and giraffe attributes. "What kind of animal are you," the group asks Odee when they meet. "I don't know what kind of animal I am? Oh, wait, yes I do," Odee says, "I'm a party animal... I'm the only me I know." Menas, who has appeared in Spielberg's West Side Story and Broadway's Jagged Little Pill, told EW that seeing a character like Odee while growing up would have been life-changing for hir.
"If I would have seen this when I was a kid, I don't even know what I would've done," Menas said. "This kind of acceptance and love and celebration, I think, is the biggest takeaway from this episode. It's just a beautiful thing. Makes me cry." Looking back at how little queer representation they saw on screen as a kid, Menas believes a character like Odee would've made hir younger self feel less alone. "We're so indoctrinated with the gender binary and gender stereotypes. If you're a man, this is your path. If you're a woman, this is your path," Menas said. "I think seeing Odee and the care from Odee's friends would have made me not feel so isolated. At times, I felt so isolated in my experience. I didn't know I was nonbinary as a kid. I didn't even have that language as a kid."
Menas revealed that the care zie felt from the script is what gave hir the confidence to take on the part. DreamWorks consulted with GLAAD while working on "Whatever Floats Your Float" to make sure every person is represented and feels seen. It was also quite affirming for Menas to see the queer people working in the show's writers' room. "As a nonbinary person, I really resonate with this. This feels spot-on," zie said. "That gave me the confidence, just knowing that these people care about the stories that they're telling. They care about the authenticity. They care about how it's going to impact not only nonbinary youth but people who are not nonbinary learning about nonbinary identities and accepting people for who they are."
"The 'Whatever Floats Your Float' episode of Madagascar: A Little Wild shows kids and parents that there's a place for everyone to 'Be Proud' of who they are," Jeremy Blacklow, GLAAD's director of entertainment media, said in a statement. "The writers have crafted a beautiful episode about identity at a time when LGBTQ inclusion in kids and family programming is rapidly growing and more industry leaders like DreamWorks Animation are working with GLAAD to ensure that all families are represented on-screen. We can't wait for kids and parents around the world to fall in love with Odee, the same way that we have!"
The new season premieres on Hulu and Peacock on May 27 and a full-length version of "Be Proud!" will be available on May 28.