We interviewed voice actor Tara Strong when she was in Manhattan recently. You know her because she has done many voices on many shows, including Twilight Sparkle from “My Little Pony: Equestria Girls — Better Together.” She has also done voices on “Teen Titans Go!” “Unikitty!” and “Guardians of the Galaxy.”
How do you keep your voice healthy and not hoarse?
I never have smoked in my life. And I also don’t eat dairy, because I’m vegan. So a lot of times if you’re sick, your moms say, don’t have dairy right now because it adds mucus. So I don’t do that. And I try not to go places where there’s going to be a lot of smokers. I also try not to scream a lot. Then I’d lose my voice, which would be bad.
How do you change your voice for male roles?
Usually, boy roles, I make them a little raspier and I go kind of deep in my throat, and I picture in my head whenever I’m doing a character. A boy answers things differently than we do, because we’re girls, so we’re clearly better communicators.
You were born in Canada. Do you still live there?
No. I live in Los Angeles, but I was just in Canada yesterday, visiting my dad.
Do you have any bloopers?
Bloopers? We have lots of bloopers. If they ever wanted to, they could sell the behind-the-scenes tapes of the recording sessions. I’d probably be in trouble. There’s lots of bloopers. We say some not-so-good words sometimes when we mess up.
Did you ever come up with a new voice by accident?
All the time. Sometimes, I do my auditions in my home studio and I’ll be like, Where did that person come from? A weird voice I’d never done before.
Who or what inspired you to do voices?
I always did voices when I was little. I’d give my animals funny voices and my toys funny voices, and me and my sister used to tape ourselves doing a fake little radio show. And I always wanted to be an actress and a singer and a dancer when I was little. My parents didn’t know much about acting so they got me an agent when I was 13. And I didn’t know that I was going to do mostly cartoons. “Hello Kitty” was one of my first voice-over auditions.
If you could be one of your characters, for one day, who would you be?
I’d have to be Twilight Sparkle, right? Then I could fly. I could do magic spells all over the place. Unikitty is pretty fun.
What was your first place you ever recorded?
Professionally it was “Hello Kitty.”
What is your favorite voice that you do?
I love doing so many characters. It’s so fun to do Unikitty and Raven and Timmy and Bubbles and Twilight. But I always say that my favorite job was Melody from “The Little Mermaid 2.” Because I got to sing. And when I was a little girl I wanted to be “The Little Mermaid” so badly. So to get to play her daughter and sing with her in the studio was pretty exciting.
Who is your role model?
I have so many role models, especially right now. I love a lot of strong women who are willing to stand up for what’s right. And that includes politically. I’m still with her. But acting-wise, I always loved Meryl Streep, and June Foray was a trailblazer in the animation world. Mel Blanc, of course, was such an inspiration. I have lots of inspirational people in my life. My own mom inspired me; my papa, too. They took me to every audition and told me I could be anything I wanted to be, and they were right.
When you’re not acting, what do you like to do?
I like to play with my kids. I have two boys. And I like to play with my dogs. I have two dogs. Sometimes I like to play with my bunnies, but they’re not that nice. And we have a lot of fun, me and my kids. The fun thing about voice-over is it usually ends before they get home from school so I get to take them to school, go to work, and get to pick them up. I get to be both mom and working girl. We have a lot of fun together, and we do arts and crafts. We go on hikes. We play with the dogs. My younger one likes to play basketball. My older one likes to do music.
Would you ever think to do a job that involves using your voice but not doing it as much with your voice?
Probably the job most like that is “Teen Titans.” I remember when I first started on that show, which was a long time ago — 16 years ago — we started with the regular Teen Titans. And Jeff Bennett and a lot of these big, crazy voice actors would come in and say, “Why, you’re working really hard on this show, Tara, because Raven never gets more excited, no matter what’s going on.” That’s probably the easiest vocally that I do. But sometimes that’s challenging, too. Because if Raven is in a big fight scene or something major is about to happen, I have to figure out how to do that in Raven’s voice. You know, when you sing in character, you have to sing as that character. You have to do big action scenes or kissing scenes as that character.
Michele Lambraia and Dara Perlow’s fourth-grade class, George Washington Elementary School, West Hempstead