• BABScon Interview: Kelly Sheridan (Starlight Glimmer Voice Actress)

    This time around we have an interview with Kelly Sheridan, the voice of Starlight Glimmer and a few other characters in MLP, as well as Barbie! Check on down after the break for a discussion about the differences between theater and voice acting, how Kelly got started, and her thoughts on Starlight Glimmer and Barbie!

    Question: what is your favorite thing to do at these conventions?

    Kelly: I like doing a lot of things. The vendor hall is always fun, because I can check out all the new and cool things that people are creating. I like the smaller panels and smaller meet and greets because I can talk to fans without dealing with a huge rush. It’s always very interesting and touching to see how the show has affected others and brought together people.

    Vicodin: You can get way more of the personal stories of people with smaller panels I’d imagine.

    Kelly: Yeah, exactly.

    Question: How did you get started voice acting?

    Kelly: I was 13 when I started voice acting. I started in children’s theater in Vancouver. The woman who ran the theater also ran a talent agency, and she represented teenagers basically, younger than 18 for films and voiceover work. She sent me a myriad of auditions and I would audition for everything I found. One particular day, I was auditioning for a random show and a studio executive heard my audition, and they picked me up even though I didn’t get the part for the show I was auditioning for. That’s usually how people get into voiceover work: Pure chance.

    Vicodin: Right place, right time?

    Kelly: Yes. There weren’t a lot of actors at that time, and I made a lot of connections with other actors. Terry Klassen, the voice director for MLP was an actor at the time, and I met him and after a while, I built a relationship with a bunch of different actors. Here I am, 20 something years later.

    Question: Do you usually get started with smaller projects like commercials or can you break it into the industry with a really good cartoon audition?

    Kelly: It's totally different for everyone. People come into voice acting in all different walks of life. Back in the day, the core members of the Vancouver voice acting community started in radio or theater. Ashleigh Ball for example was focusing on her music when she got into voice acting. A lot of people start in their 30s or 40s, or others start when they are children and they’re still doing it. So you’ll get a different answer from everyone you ask.

    Vicodin: It’s very inspiring to hear everyone’s story because it makes it feel like anyone can get into voice acting if they have the drive and the desire.

    Kelly: Exactly. If you’re a doctor, you need an undergraduate degree. You need to go to medical school and do a bunch of other stuff. But it’s different when you’re an actor.

    Question: You’ve been voice acting for a while. Do you feel that there’s any difference between voice acting for this show compared to others? Or is it a similar job?

    Kelly: Normally when I’m on a different show, I don’t think of the fandom response. With this show, there’s a lot of responses and you sometimes think about what that response is going to be when you’re recording. I don’t let it affect my performance, but I get very excited and I can’t wait for others to see what happens. Other times, a meme is created or something small becomes huge and that’s always fun. You can’t always predict what is going to be popular or stick within the fandom.

    But in terms of the backgrounds of the show, there isn’t much of a difference. My Little Pony is very well run and staffed and sometimes you’ll be on shows that aren’t. It’s an absolute pleasure to go to work and other times on different shows it isn’t. But I still give 100% in all of my performances, whether I’m on a show that will become popular or not.

    Question: How is theater different from voice acting? We see a lot of people comparing voice acting to teleivison or live action acting, but are there some intricacies in theater that you find more challenging or rewarding or that not a lot of people know?

    Kelly: I think theater is a lot more closer to voice acting in that you need to make broad choices and project to an audience. A film is very intimate and natural, so you really can’t underdo film more. When you see a film actor in a voice over recording, they struggle more than a theater actor because they’re working to try and be bigger. Whereas it’s always easier to be smaller. But in theater, it’s very physical. You’re working with your body and it’s very in the moment. You’re interacting with the audience and getting immediate feedback in the play. You want them interacting and participating.

    I’m classically theater trained and it’s been very helpful for voice acting work, because it helps me make choices quickly when in the booth. It’s very much a technique when you have to project in the booth. Even though there’s a microphone inches away from your face, there’s a dynamic element in the booth. It’s bigger and larger than life.

    Question: Do you think that we’re in an age where the people behind a show have more attention and appreciation put towards them compared to previously? I know that we’ve had the stars of Star Trek come to conventions but it seems that modern shows have everyone from the top to bottom appreciated. Were voice actors for cartoons as closely followed ten or twenty years ago?

    Kelly: I think if we had the internet in the 70s and 80s, everyone would be geeking out over Mel Blanc and John Dimaggio, and Billy West like they are now. But it’s so hard. How would you know who voiced a character unless you recorded the show on your VCR and paused right on the credits, you know? There wasn’t a lot of information to know these actors.

    I remember as a kid I was always interested in how cartoons were made. There are so many resources now that let people connect and become invested in shows. I think it’s great. All the writers and animators get their deserved attention, and they are often the unsung heroes of a show.

    Actors are often given the credit for our lines and we don’t do any of that! We’re just given a script and we perform. I can only take credit for my performance.

    Question: I was actually going to touch upon that next. Both MA Larson and Josh Haber, the writers for the episodes with Starlight Glimmer both as a villain and protagonist have said that they found Starlight’s lines to be very dry and unimpressive. Yet you step up to the plate and knock her characterization out of the park. Do you think that any script can be saved with the right acting? Or did you pull on some characterization from Barbie due to our previous question?

    Kelly: That’s interesting. I disagree and think they are being far too modest with their writing. When people are quoting Starlight’s lines at me and remembering them, I can’t take credit for that. I can only take credit for the interpretation. I honestly didn’t know what type of impact that these lines would have on the show, and it’s Mitch or Josh writing those lines, not me. All of these huge soliloquies and monologues are written so well that it’s easy to act them out. And then you see these lines being what people remember.

    This also works for the animation as well. The animators put their extra additions into the show such as Starlight sitting on the cloud clapping her hooves. That’s the collaboration between the entire show staff, from Mitch in writing down to Denny as director and everyone in between..

    Question: When Starlight was a villain, there were some jokes going around that she had a lot of similarities with Barbie. Do you see the same similarities that we do?

    Kelly: *Laughs* No, not really. I have a soft spot for Barbie.

    Vicodin: I didn’t mean that Barbie was a villain. I’m sorry, I just meant the way her voice is projected, it seems like she’s very energetic, no matter the situation.

    Kelly: I’m not positive. I always try to play Barbie very sincerely. Maybe that’s the impression that people get from Toy Story movies or spoofs of Barbie as the “too happy” character, but that’s never how I played her. Kind clever and brave were the words that Mattel gave me to act Barbie. She’s always intelligent and brave and got herself out of trouble, and didn’t need to rely on a prince to save her. She always did the right thing. But I do understand, she seems as the stereotype bubbly ditzy blonde, but that’s never how I played her.

    Vicodin: How did you come across Barbie? Was it a regular audition?

    Kelly: It was. They auditioned several actors from a bunch of different cities. It was the first time that she was going to have a voice since a toy from the 80s. It was surprisingly straightforward.

    Question: What other hobbies do you have?

    Kelly: I like playing board games, such as tabletop. Sometimes a bunch of friends and I will get together for 9 hours and eat a bunch of junk food and play games.

    Vicodin: Of course, that’s the dream.

    Kelly: I also love the outdoors. I live in a very outdoorsy city so I like to travel. Go hiking, biking, and trucking around.

    Vicodin: It seems like you have the perfect balance of inside and outside.

    Kelly: Absolutely. Even on sunny days, you might catch me eating nachos and playing “Settlers of Catan”.

    Question: Finally, is there anything to say to the fans?

    Kelly: I just want to express my appreciation and gratitude for how accepting everyone has been for both Starlight and myself. I know Starlight is a very polarizing character, and everyone has been very honest yet kind, even if they’re not sure how they feel about Starlight. Everyone has communicated in a very genuine and respectful way. I hope you all enjoy the next episode! It looks amazing!

    And it was. That's all I have for this interview, folks! Thanks for reading! Make sure to tweet at Kelly to thank her for sitting down with me or you can tweet at me for some reason. I'll see you guys soon! Be on the lookout for interviews with Josh Haber and Andrea Libman!