The voice behind nostalgic properties and modern phenomenons alike, Tara Strong is a major figure in the voice acting world. We spoke to the voice of Bubbles, Raven, and more about the difficulties of the industry and her favorite character to perform.
Innovation & Tech Today: I remember this interview I watched with the cast of Teen Titans, and you were talking about how you mixed together a few different things for the voice of Raven. I think you said you had a base, and then you kind of graveled it up a little bit?
Tara Strong: Yeah, well, because at the time I was doing maybe three other characters that all, in the character description, would sound like Raven. Depressed teenager, kind of dark, whatever it was, and I was actually doing Batgirl for them at the time, so I couldn’t just do my own voice. Batgirl’s probably the closest thing to my own voice. So I didn’t know where to go to make her sound unique, and then I had finished the audition just sort of playing a little bit, and then I went and I said to the director, “I’ve got one more idea that I could try,” and they really liked that sort of guttural roll that I threw. It was actually kind of a last-minute idea.
I&T Today: What do you think is the most difficult part of voice acting or being a voice actor?
Tara Strong: Well, I’d say the most difficult thing is not, this is going to come off weird, but for me vocally, it’s vocally taxing to do a video game where you’re screaming death sounds for four hours, because when you’re doing an animated series, there’s a cast record, so you get a little break in between you having to speak, but when you’re doing a video game, you’re typically by yourself. Sometimes they won’t hire a voice director. It’ll just be a writer on the game saying, “Hey, can you do this like 50 more death sounds?” Well, then I won’t be able to do any other jobs that week.
I&T Today: Right.
Tara Strong: So that can be challenging, and I think the hardest part emotionally is when you’re replaced on something. For instance, we would do the Teen Titans together for something like 17 years, then we started out doing it serious, and now we’re doing this silly iteration, and sometimes they’ll do something and not use us, and that makes us so sad, because like I said, once you create a character, they live in your head, and it’s like, “Wait. That’s, that’s me.” I think that’s probably the hardest part emotionally, is letting go of a role that you really helped bring to life and bring to the world.
Powerpuff was a tough one. You know, Powerpuff Girls, we really created those voices, you know? So it’s like there’s, like I said before, certain ways of pronouncing things that just wouldn’t have existed without us. So it’s like you create these … it’s like you have a kid, and then you have to give your kid away for someone else to raise.
I&T Today: Right.
Tara Strong: But the fans are so great at letting us know how … and by the way, we never get pissed off at the other actors, because it’s a gig. I certainly wasn’t the first person to play Harley. I wasn’t the first Batgirl, so it’s not the actor’s fault, but once you are a role, it’s recognized that you’re that role, and then there’s a replacement for no reason, or just, “Let’s just try this.” If an actor says that doesn’t hurt their feelings, they’re completely lying.
I&T Today: Well, kind of actually along those lines, throughout your career, has there been one character that’s been your absolute favorite to perform?
Tara Strong: Well, I loved doing Fairly OddParents. Teen Titans we love. We had so much fun together. Powerpuff Girls, we had so much fun together. But when people ask what your favorite role was, I always say Melody from The Little Mermaid II, because as a young girl, I loved the first one, and I still have the poster hanging in my childhood bedroom in Toronto. To get to play her daughter and sing with her in the studio was pretty fantastic. She was super …
I&T Today: On the other hand, is there one character that you’ve never voiced before that you would want to do?
Tara Strong: Well, my other answer to that is I would’ve liked to have been one of The Simpsons. They’ve been around a long time.
I&T Today: Absolutely. Is there one Simpsons character you think you’d be kind of perfect for the role of?
Tara Strong: I mean, had I auditioned, maybe one of the kids, but if they were going to do something now, it’d be fun to just come on board as a new character, but once there’s an established show, like Fairly OddParents or Teen Titans, they don’t have that many guest characters, because most of us are versatile and can do a bunch of different voices and a bunch of different characters, and the SAG scale rate is, they can pay you for up to three different characters. So it makes sense for them to bring in someone that can do three different roles, as opposed to someone that can only do one part.