Tara Strong has an odd sort of fame. You may not know her name or recognize her face, but depending on how much TV you watch (or watched as a child), you probably are a big fan. “When I’m in line at Target, my youngest child likes to point me out to strangers and say, ‘Do you know that’s Timmy Turner (from the animated series, The Fairly OddParents)?’ Sometimes when they meet me, people get real excited and say, ”Thank you for my childhood.’ Sometimes younger kids don’t quite grasp it. Boys, in particular, might insist, ‘You’re not Ben-10.’”
Yes, she is. She’s also the voice of Raven from Teen Titans, Mary Jane Watson on The Ultimate Spider-Man, Harley Quinn on Justice League Action, and Bubbles on The Powerpuff Girls. She has contributed voices to such series as Family Guy, Rick and Morty, and the films, Despicable Me 3 and The Emoji Movie.
In My Little Pony: The Movie, Strong saddles up one of her most beloved characters, Twilight Sparkle, which she originated on the TV series. She has been part of the My Little Pony universe for almost a decade. We spoke with the Woman of a Thousand Voices her devoted fans, her children’s reactions to her special stardom, and voicing a bellybutton in the movie, Ted.
Redbox: What is it about the My Little Pony universe that you respond to most?
Tara Strong: One thing I like about the show itself is that among the different characters, there is definitely a personality every viewer can relate to and see similarities to themselves. Even in my case, there will be a real-life situation, from time to time, that I feel Twilight would handle better than Tara Strong.
The lessons are important. In the film, Twilight does something bad and she acknowledges the bad thing she did. The message is that nobody is perfect and the fact that Twilight can admit to a mistake and learn from it, I think, is more human than someone who’s always perfect.
Redbox: Of all the franchises you are a part of, which fans are the most hardcore?
TS: I’ve been a part of pretty big shows and iconic characters, but the My Little Pony fandom has completely blown my mind. This fanbase is all inclusive. There’s a very strong anti-bullying force. It’s like this army of kindness around the world.
Redbox: There is a documentary with the amazing title, Bronies: The Extremely Unexpected Adult Fans of My Little Pony. Those fans must have been a surprise.
TS: At first, definitely. There’s these Army Bronies who want me to autograph their arms they can get them tattooed underneath their Twilight Sparkle tattoos. They paint (the character) Pinky Pie on their tanks and sing My Little Pony songs to get them through really hard times. On my Twitter account, I’ve raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for various causes, and the biggest donors are the Bronies.
Redbox: Growing up, did your children have a sense of mommy’s job? What was their reaction to hearing your voice come out of a cartoon character on TV?
TS: I would bring them with me to the recording sessions at Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network. They had so much fun with the other voice-over artists, and the buildings themselves were very colorful;, bright, beautiful places. They were super-excited. My oldest was in fifth grade when Pony exploded, and when I came to visit, the girls would mob me, and my son would look at me, like, ‘What’s happening?’”
Redbox: How many voices do you do?
TS: I’m sure I’ve done over 1,000 voices. I’m telling you every so often, I’ll be like, ‘Where did that voice come from?’”
Redbox: Like your voice credit for Bellybutton in the movie, Ted?
TS: That happened because I get a text message from Seth McFarlane asking would I come to his table read of the script. I’ve pretty much been with him since the first season of Family Guy, so of course I said yes. Pretty much from the start, it was a cutesy teddy bear sound. I was at the table read with Mila Kunis and Mark Wahlberg just doing that voice.
Redbox: Is there a project of yours that might be under the radar you would want people to rediscover?
TS: One of my favorites I ever did was The Little Mermaid 2 because I got to sing with Jodi Benson. I don’t know any little girl who didn’t want to be Ariel, and I got to sing with her. I was a mess. I probably could have died the next day.