EFR: Andrea Libman Interview


The folks over at Everfree Radio have just released their latest interview with Andrea Libman. You may remember a few weeks they got the privilege to sit down with Ashleigh Ball.

Video embed after the page break, interview notes hopefully later.

Update 5/9: Transcript of the interview by Doc91.

Final Draft: How did you become involved with My Little Pony?

Andrea Libman: I got involved a long time ago with previous generations of My Little Pony; I've been involved doing the voice of Sweetie Belle for some time.
As for FiM; I got called to come audition, and that was that.

FD: So you did Sweetie Belle in G3, was there a difference in how you recorded that generation versus this one?

AL: One difference is that FiM is one of the only productions I've been in where animators were in the studio with us during recording, and I think that makes a huge difference with the end product.
I think you can just see that in the animation, because they've got their vision, and they're able to communicate that with the voice actors.

FD: Are they in there directing what you're doing, or is it more that they're drawing from your performance?

AL: They're definitely taking part in the direction, 'cause they'll say, "this is what I was envisioning for that scene, and then we can go from there."
Most times when we record something, we'll just go off the script and we do our best, not having people there saying this is *exactly* what I'm picturing.

FD: You definitely see that in the show. [...] Probably one of the reasons why there are so many bronies is how expressive these characters are. [For example] Fluttershy's animation has a different "character" to it than say, Pinkie Pie's.

AL: [The animators] are so incredibly talented. We're lucky as voice actors to be able to have such amazing talent behind the visual product, because we don't have any influence over that.

One Trick: Going back, you used to do G3 Sweetie Belle. How does it feel for someone else to be voicing her?

AL: I think Claire does an amazing job.

FD: Going back to your general career in animation voice over work, you started at a young age from what I've read.
Did you expect when you were a kid doing voicework that you would continue doing this 'til now, or did you have other plans?

AL: I always thought my voice would change, [...] and everyone thought I would grow out of it, but as you're listening [Note: Libman's natural voice is rather high] that never happened.
I went to university and I took civil engineering, and that was my backup plan. I guess I'm lucky I still sound 12.

FD: Was there a field of engineering that actually interested you?

AL: I went into [civil engineering] right after I left high school, so I probably didn't know as much as I should've before making that kind of decision.
I liked math and physics, because I'm a real nerd. My focus was, I guess, structual and construction management-type stuff.

FD: So as a math and physics nerd I guess one of your favorite characters would be Twilight. When you were trying out for the show did you shoot for any specific characters?

AL: Yes, I did three for Twilight. When you're auditioning you try to do as much as you can to have the best chances.

FD: Did you expect to get the characters that you got, or were you expecting a different character?

AL: I try and not have any expectations after I do an audition. If you do, you'll drive yourself crazy.
You do the best that you can, and then you have to forget about it and take it as it comes.

6:13 FD: Once you landed the roles, you quickly were cast to do two extremely different roles, Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie.
How did you develop Pinkie Pie as a charcter? She is just this brilliant form of crazy that I don't know is replicable.

AL: Well thank you. [Pinkie and Fluttershy] do kind of go together, because how they really were developed was trying to get a really clear separation with the two voices so they were as far apart as possible.
I think that's what pushed Pinkie Pie to be so wacky-crazy was just getting that separation and then really pull her off instead of Fluttershy, so sweet and even and slower paced.

OT: How do you get such inspiration for a character like Pinkie Pie, being so out there?

AL: The writing is pretty awesome. They put her in these situations, and come up with awesome lines. I go nuts; they can pull me back if it's too crazy.
What's so wonderful and exciting about this show is that they don't pull me back, and as soon as I figured that out she just started getting crazier and crazier.

OT: Of all the characters, who do you feel your personality most matches?

AL: I'm probably more of a Twilight Sparkle.

FD: Would you say then that [Fluttershy and Pinkie] are ends of the extremes?

AL: Yeah, I think a lot of us fall somewhere in between, and it's pretty amazing meeting fans that identify strongly with one or the other. Especially Fluttershy.
A lot of people are introverted; you can have friends and still be who you are.

FD: When we talked to Lee Tockar, he was talking about how he developed his sea serpent character ["Stephen Magnet"], that he was asked to keep pushing his character as far as he could.
I'm wondering if they asked you to push Pinkie Pie further, or if there was some limit to the crazy.

AL: There definitely is a cap, and that cap is clarity. We can go as far as we can, but if we can't get the words across then it's too much. 
Usually what you hear in the final product is a bit slower than what I originally started with.

10:00 FD: Can you give us an example of an over-the-top, way-too-fast Pinkie Pie rant?

AL: Let me try. SoPinkiePie'sgonnatalkreallyfastshe'sgonnagoreallyreallyfastandyouwouldn'tevenunderstanythingshejustsaid!

OT: Now Pinkie Pie has a polar opposite also, Pinkamena. How does it make you feel when a character is turned 180 degrees like that?

AL: That's really tricky. It's so hard stuff that happens in a script is totally out-of-character. You want to keep true to the character, but you're trying to capture this different side of her.
It's really, really challenging.

FD: There's another example of one of your characters switching her personality, when Fluttershy gets evil in Discord episodes. That must've been so much fun to voice.

AL: Definitely, it's so fun to be mean. In a voiceover, not real life. [*laughs*]

FD: Looking to the other cast members we've interviewed, we talked about the dynamic in the recording studio. Everyone we've talked to has said there's this really positive, uplifiting kind of dynamic.
Is that the case for you, and for other things you've worked on?

AL: I'm sorry to tell you that everyone's been lying. Just kidding. I agree, the cast is just full of not only phenomenal actors, but people.
It's easy to be around people you admire and respect. It's definitely free, we support each other, laugh when it's funny.
Compared to other shows, it just depends. This one's definitely one of the most fun shows to work on.

OT: You've worked with a lot of these voice actors on other shows before. It's pretty much like getting together and doing the same thing, only with different voices.

AL: That's true, except every show is very different, and I think this show in particular is so unique in that even though it's people you may know they're coming up with new voices, and the storylines are so unique.
It's people you know, so it's comfortable, but at the same time it's a totally different production. It's the best of both worlds.

FD: One thing that we've heard from the voice actors is that apparently Tabitha St. Germain brings in some cookies to the recording sessions at times.
I'm wondering if you've partaken in these delectables yourself.

AL: Yes, of course, always. What's really sad is that I work with Tabitha so much that I rely on her; I won't bring my own snacks. I really depend on her. Cookies, banana bread, we're so spoiled by her.

14:00 FD: Does she do some baking then, or does she just bring this stuff in?

AL: She picks it up, but it's always the most delicious stuff.

FD: What have you seen of the online fandom?

AL: We all found about it in-studio. I remember coming in, and Jason was like, "there's all these people online who enjoy the show." I didn't really believe him.
I thought it was a handful of people, but it was this huge, awesome fandom. I have seen a few things, but I have to be careful what I click on. I don't know if it's going to make me smile or frown.

OT: What is your overall reaction to the sheer volume of the community that's out there? It's got to be surprising that you're being asked to do all these interviews and show up to conventions for a show such as My Little Pony.

AL: Definitely surprising. A lot of voice actors do do conventions, but they're usually involved in more gritty stuff. [...] Everything I do has always been for kids, and kids aren't allowed on the internet.
They can't tell you how much they like the show. You might need a kid: I was working on Dragon Tales, and there are a lot of kids who work on that show.
You meet them and their mom goes, "Oh, this is the voice of Emmy," and then they start crying because you don't look like the cartoon. [...] It's so cool to be able to talk to fans and have them say, "I loved it when you did this." I've never had that before.

FD: A lot of people we've talked to have said one of the reasons they've kept on with the show has been that kind of fan support that they haven't gotten elsewhere. Would you say that about yourself as well?

AL: Yeah! It's unbelieveable.

FD: Do you watch the show yourself? Do you sit down, turn on the TV, or go on the internet and just see the episodes, or do you just catch them when you get the chance?

AL: I catch them when I get a chance to, but I'm trying to be better. I really don't like listening to myself.
[...] The animation is so gorgeous that I can't resist. And I love listening to everyone else, of course. And now I kind of have to, because then you're going to ask me a question. 

FD: So you've mentioned in the past that voice actors enjoy making disgusting or goofy noises. Is there a favorite noise you had to make for a show?

19:10 AL: Well, we all like to burp.

FD: Is that a skill that you have to learn, how to force a burp?

AL: I'd say that only 50% can burp [on command]. Some people just can and some people just can't.

[...]

FD: Your characters have gotten some interesting fan reputations about them. I wanted to ask your impressions of these, just because I don't know if you've encountered them.
[For instance] Pinkie Pie has gotten a reputation of breaking the fourth wall and defying the laws of physics.

AL: I don't really know too much about it, but it seems cool... but...

FD: I mean, you'll find these images of her breaking out of a computer screen, or addressing the audience.

AL: I have a friend who works for Google, and he sent me some thing where Google rewards hackers. But then the hacker that won called themselves Pinkie Pie.

FD: Is there a specific fan art, music, or animation that you've seen that really stuck out in your mind?

AL: I've seen lots of really cool stuff! I'm definitely not a visual artist, so when I see what people are able to do, I really appreciate it, because there's no way I could ever do that.
Music I don't listen to that much, because that often includes my voice, and that doesn't sound good to me.

FD: On that note, I was going to ask about Shannon [Chan-Kent], who sings for Pinkie Pie in the show. When you hear her rendition of Pinkie Pie in musical form, is that something you can listen to, or is it too similar to your character?

AL: As long as it's not me, I'm cool with it. [On Finding a Pet] I can hear all the little imperfections; I'm a perfectionist. 

OT: That song made me realize just how much the production values of the show have gone up over its course. Being able to pick out the imperfections in it is just crazy.

FD: Would you say then that you look forward to the singing parts of the show, or are you more 'you do it and then you don't want to hear it'?

AL: I'm always looking forward to what Daniel's come up with. His tunes are so original; it's really exciting to hear something for the first time. But they're also really challenging.
I do look forward to it, because it's a challenge, and usually it's just awesome, awesome stuff he's written. It's so fun to collaborate with someone, especially Ashleigh.

FD: On Daniel and his music, we just recently saw the season finale, that was just chock full of new songs. I wanted to know what your impression was of that, because it's really created waves in the fandom.

AL: It's so fun! So many animated series don't have a proper finale or a big meetup or a two-part episode; it's so fun to do stuff like that. [...] I think it was an amazing episode.

OT: Were you at all surprised at how big The Hub and Hasbro made the finale, with Tori Spelling, the party they did in New York, and the newspaper ads?

AL: Yeah, I was so excited, they were like, "You have to come into the studio, here's a script, Tori Spelling's in it." So cool!

FD: Are you working on any other shows presently? 

AL: Yes, I'm working on Pac-Man.

FD: Do you know who your character's going to be?

AL: I'm Selendria [sp?]. I don't know what I can really say, but I know I can say we're working on it. It's a really cool show. A really awesome cast, cool stories, and it'll look good to.

OT: Is this a followup to the previous Pac-Man show?

AL: I don't know.

FD: Is there anything you can say about Selendria or the character?

AL: I can say that she's round. [*laughs*]

FD: Are there any other upcoming projects that you'd like the fans to know about?

AL: I think I've mentioned this before but I'm working on Maya the Bee. [...] It's a remake, the same show, same spirit, the same kind of stories. It's really for kids; fun, cute.
I knew nothing about Maya until I auditioned for it. Some people did and some people feel really passionate, and when you watch the old shows, they're really amazing.

FD: What other kinds of shows did you grow up with, that maybe they inspired you a little to create these characters?

AL: Let's see... I think my favorite show growing up was Zoobilie Zoo. My brother and I used to basically run home at lunchtime so that we could catch Zoobilee Zoo. What's really cool is that a few years later I started doing Madeline, and the director of Madeline, and the voice of Miss Clavel and Genevieve, the wonderfully talented Stevie Vallance was one day on Zoobilee Zoo and I lost my mind, starstruck.

27:28 FD: Did you watch any other kind of cartoons when you were younger, was there any sort of character references that you've used in your own characterizations?

AL: Not knowingly. Everything you watch goes into what you do, right? Subconsciously. I work more with what I have; my voice is unique, and high, so I kind of make due with that.

FD: Do you find that voicing Pinkie Pie or Fluttershy-- both of those characters are somewhat defined by their utterances-- was that something you were surprised by in the script or is that something that you see in other shows that you've worked on as well?

AL: Not to that extent. All the characters in this show are just so defined. I think that's what's really is so appealing about the show is that the characters have their -isms. It's like real life, in a wacky way.

FD: Do you practice, then, those kinds of utterances, to perfect them? As you say, you're a bit of a perfectionist.

AL: I want to say yes so that you'll think I'm a hard worker. But no, for me when I'm in a session, I don't like to read the script too closely, because I kind of want to let it happen, to be able to play off the other characters.
I definitely don't practice because I think a better performance comes from spontaneity. Don't tell the directors~

OT: With Pinkie Pie you kind of have to be spontaneous, 'cause she doesn't come off as a scripted character.

30:00 AL: Yeah, and sometimes it's almost better to not have studied your lines or the script because you might read something a different way and it might not even be as it was intended by the writers. But what you've done, maybe it just works, maybe it's funnier, it's surprising; I like to leave room for that.

FD: Do you find that in scripts that maybe they have a little improv notation, say for each squeal, or do they actually try to specifically script each noise the character makes?

AL: Really, the noises aren't scripted, it's more there's a description of what's happening, and then you react to that. The noises are from what you may think from reading it, and the directors have an idea.

OT: A lot of your other voice actors do roles on television shows as themselves, did you ever think you would ever end up in a role like that?

AL: Oh, no. You mean on camera work?

OT: Yeah, like Nicole Oliver doing [Supernatural]?

AL: Yeah, she's a movie star I did on-camera work when I was younger. I'm just not interested these days.

FD: On your resumes that're posted online it says you worked on the movie The Sixth Day with Arnold Schwarzenegger?

AL: As the voice of the doll.

FD: Did you have to voice any other toys in your time?

AL: Not next to Arnold like that. I've done voices for actual toys.

FD: Any favorite toys that people can hear your voice in?

AL: I used to do a lot for V-Tech.

[...]

FD: So Andrea, are you going to be at any conventions or meetups that people can look forward to seeing you at?

AL: Yes. In a couple of weeks, I'll be in Calgary at Ota-fest [May 18-20th], and in June I'll be in Anaheim at AM2 Con [June 15th-17th]. Thanks for having me!

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