People spend 21 percent of their lives working, which might sound like a bad thing, unless you have a job you actually enjoy.

To Kristen Sotakoun, the best part about portraying Mulan at Disney World was the kids. The kids who hugged her, the kids who told her all about their days, the kids who, when they met her, were already her best friend because she was Mulan.

This includes the 3-year-old twins from China, dressed in traditional robes on Chinese New Year, who were so excited to meet their hero.

We’re from China, just like you, they told her.

Kristen portrayed Mulan, Pocahontas, and Silvermist (one of Tinkerbell’s friends) for three years. Whoever her managers needed for the schedule was who she would portray that day.

During her senior year of high school, Kristen applied to some colleges, but it didn’t feel right. When she saw a poster that read, “Do you want to work at Disney World?” she thought it might be what she was meant to do. After seeing a presentation on the Career Start program for students wanting to join the workforce right out of high school, she was sold.

She applied to work in the entertainment sector but was placed in attractions instead. Kristen worked at the “glamorous” Honey I Shrunk the Kids playground for four months before general auditions were held.

“I think when you go to audition,” Kristen says, “have confidence. People say don’t try too hard, but at Disney, try too hard. Animate and dance over the top, and show them that you want it.”

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