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Interview

The Mary Sue Interviews My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic’s Tara Strong


My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic airs a very special episode tomorrow on The Hub in which the lovable and charismatic Twilight Sparkle is changing. To find out how much, we spoke with the talented woman who provides her voice on the series, Tara Strong. Hear what she had to say about Pony fandom, the upcoming Teen Titans Go!, and the one animated venue she’d still love to visit. 

The Mary Sue: Did you watch the older series of My Little Pony?

Strong: I grew up in a toy store and I always had the best sticker collection and all the ponies, I definitely was into them. I’m trying to remember how much of it I actually watched but I definitely played with the toys and the stickers and the merch.

TMS: To the current news, [SPOILER ALERT] fandom is reacting strongly to Twilight Sparkle becoming a Princess very soon. We don’t think there’s anything wrong with being a Princess, but we do see them a lot in children’s shows and movies. Will Twilight be a stereotypical Princess or something more?

Strong: Well the good news is, Twilight is going to stay Twilight. She is overwhelmed and surprised and grateful for this new phase in her life but it’s not going to change how she is or how she interacts with her friends, she’s staying in Ponyville. I’m certainly not changing any of my performance and it’s really the same Twilight except she can do more stuff now. She can fly…it’s not going to change the overall feel of the show, she’s going to be with the Mane 6. It’s just Twilight but a little bit better, she can do more stuff! But overall, it’s not really going to change that much. I think that’s what everybody’s afraid of, that it’s going to change sort of that core element that everyone fell in love with these six characters and that’s not going to change at all. I’m not changing a thing about my performance.

TMS: Who, other than Twilight, is your favorite pony?

Strong: [Laughs] Gosh I hate when people ask that because I love them all and I love these girls, they’ve given them so much. I think visually, Rainbow Dash is amazing, she’s just so cool and fun to watch and her cutie mark is really cool. Of course Pinkie Pie is adorable and she reminds me of my Bubble days so she’s really fun and I’m crazy for Tabitha for her Rarity. See? This is not fair. You’re asking me to pick like my favorite kid. It’s not fair.

TMS: Speaking of the visuals, we’ve seen a lot in fandom the cosplay that has spun out of the show, whether it’s extremely literal or very expressive. What do you think of that and is there something you’ve seen fans do in cosplay you really thought they knocked out of the park?

Strong: Well, I’m not sure if you know but I surprised the fans in cosplay myself? [Editors Note: Oh, we saw!] It’s so much fun! I look at the video footage of their faces because they had no idea it was me. It was the first time I ever cosplayed and it was insanely fun and I think I look amazing with purple hair! [Laughs] So much fun and liberating and I see why they do it. It’s really playtime and you sort of get to be a kid again or this other character that has all these magical powers and you’re in a room with all these people who are enjoying the same level of wackiness as you and it’s just so fun.

I would say probably some of the most amazing stuff I saw was like a full Princess Celestia or something where it takes two people to make it work. Like, someone’s in the butt and someone’s in the front [laughs], it’s so good! That’s a whole level of fandom that, I mean, I’m still wearing a dress and legwarmers, these people are like…I don’t know. The other thing I have to say, this fandom is so talented. I don’t know how they make this amazing art, they make amazing music, and they make these amazing costumes. And when you meet them in cosplay they’ve all made them themselves, it’s just astonishing how talented everyone is. I see what they’ve sewn together and created and their interpretation of these characters and they’re just incredible. They’re really incredible.

[Editors Note: It was here I admited I'd be doing my first Pony cosplay at C2E2 in April. We're each dressing in a differen era and I'll be doing a 1920s Twilight Sparkle.] Strong: That’s a great idea for an episode, we should have time traveling ponies!

TMS: Speaking of time travel, Doctor Whooves has really taken off in the fandom from a character that was sort of vaguely placed in the background that is now spawning merchandise and all that. Are you a Doctor Who fan at all?

Strong: Oh my god, growing up I was such a huge fan of the classic stuff. I don’t watch that much television now, so I don’t know much about the new one, but I was obsessed when I was a kid. It’s so amazing whenever the fans go and find background ponies and give it more life and you know, the Hub and Hasbro work together to sort of incorporate it the best way they can. It’s such a collaborative show, I mean, and it’s so cute and I love all the jokes. I mean, anytime you can sit and watch a show that has no age barriers is such a good thing and this Doctor Who thing, you’re going to have fans from all ages that get those jokes. It’s so good!

TMS: Is there any existing character outside MLP you’ve always wanted to play, either live action or voice?

Strong: If I was going to voice a character that I haven’t done it would have to be The Simpsons. I do Family Guy from time to time [but] that’s one show I think would be a lot of fun to do. Other than that, I’ve really been so lucky in the voiceover world to book legacy characters like Batgirl and Harley and Raven, and the sequel to the Little Mermaid and Timmy Turner. I’ve just been so lucky so that’s probably the only one. Then on camera, you know I really love doing everything, it’s just fitting in the time to do it. I have a recurring role on Big Time Rush but certainly a sitcom would be tremendously fun as long as I can fit in time to My Little Pony.

TMS: Speaking of your superhero work, I think the latest thing that really got people excited was the Super Best Friends Forever shorts on DC Nation. What was that experience like?

Strong: Well of course they were all so wonderful because they were created by Lauren Faust who is such a genius. And I love playing Batgirl. I don’t know if you heard my podcast with Kevin Smith but he’s like an encyclopedia and he’s like, “Do you know that you’ve logged more hours playing Batgirl on television than any other celebrity in the world?” And I’m like, “I did not know that!” So any time I get to play Batgirl is fine with me and because it’s Lauren it sort of had that young energy spin on it that was totally adorable and I would love if that went to series. But I don’t know if that’s going to happen but it was totally fun and the t-shirts are cute! Someone has to get me one of the Batgirl t-shirts.

TMS: You’re voicing Raven again for Teen Titans Go! On DC Nation.

Strong: Yup! All the returning cast! And you guys are going to love it so much. Initially I was concerned because it wasn’t a continuation of what happened. I’m like, “well what about Trigon?” It was such a cliffhanger when the show originally ended that I was worried that the fans were not going to be into this show and then…first of all, it’s all the original cast and we had so much fun when we get together and it’s like an old family, but when you watch the first episode, I’ve seen a few of them, they’re so well done that even the grumpiest person sitting there not wanting to like it is going to love it. So well done, and so hilarious, and the colors are amazing and there’s all these funny songs and it’s just so crazy. It’s addictive. It’s a similiar thing to Pony where you have to see the next episode. I’m crazy for this. I was nervous myself, being a fan of the show, and I’m crazy for this version! I think fans will not be disappointed.

TMS: You’ve have such a huge career of voice acting and we have a lot of younger girls who read the site. Is there any advice you would give to someone who wants to get into voice acting?

Strong: I would say to definitely get into all kinds of acting classes. When I was little I didn’t know that that would be my main source of income so the acting work that I did in other areas really helped mold who I am today and any time you’re working on your craft, that’s helpful. I took improv at Second City and singing lessons and scene study. A lot of people think, “oh I have a funny voice, I can do voiceover” or “it’s just reading” and it’s not just reading. People that do it really well understand the concept that you are becoming these characters when you’re in the studio, you’re bringing these characters to life. That takes a tremendous amount of skill and natural ability and of course experience. Initially it’s very frightening to get to a studio with all these seasoned genuine voice actors but I always recommend that. And if you can get into a studio, especially if you’re in L.A. or New York, or any other place that does animation or commercial casting, if you can get time in front of someone who does commercial casting, a lot of people get their start that way.

We actually have a course online too it’s VoiceStarz.com that has advice from everyone in this business on how to get into it and just knowing that it’s not a business that’s open arms that anyone can do it. You want to really make sure you’re ready and at the top of your game before you even attempt to do it because you sort of have to be someone who can come in and wow everyone and blow everyone away. I mean, I see the same ten to twenty people everywhere I go and there’s a consistency to that because producers know that in their amount of studio time, these actors are going to get it right between take one and three and there’s just a comforbility level that comes from doing it so much. So before you just jump into an audition, you don’t want to ruin your chances by going in too early, just make sure you’re really ready.

TMS: Anything else you’d like to mention?

Strong: Just follow me on Twitter, @TaraStrong and vote for me for a Shorty! Of course my charity which is Little Kiki’s cancer fund. This little girl would not be alive without my fans today and their family is so greatful. They’re actually really good friends of mine and this little girl has a stage 4 brain tumor and she would not be here without my amazing, amazing fans. So I’d definitely like to tell them how grateful I am and how grateful the family is and just to keep supporting them.

 

You’ll be able to catch Tara this Saturday, Feb. 16th for the very special coronation episode of My Little Pony Friendship is Magic at 10:30 am ET only on The Hub.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sidney-Tucker/100001091061061 Sidney Tucker

    I love MLP. But I distance myself from the idea that this is to sell more toys. You can’t just have the old Twilight. Now you have to have Princess Twilight. All the little girls and the not so little boys rushing out to Toys ‘R Us to buy up any and all the new limited editions. Well, whatever. I’ll still watch the show. I would love to see SBFF become a show, though.

  • http://zadl.org/ Captain ZADL

    That was a nice interview! It sounds like you had fun talking to her too, which came across in her replies. Thanks!

  • http://www.thenerdybird.com/ Jill Pantozzi

    All children’s animated series are made to sell toys. When they aren’t selling enough toys, they get cancelled.

  • http://www.thenerdybird.com/ Jill Pantozzi

    It was SO much fun!

  • http://twitter.com/C_Vanderlinden Colleen Vanderlinden

    I loved this interview! It makes sense to me, and even if it is to sell more toys (which, duh — Hasbro is a toy company, after all…) it’s still a good addition to the storyline. Her brother married a princess, and she’s totally “in” with Princess Celestia…why shouldn’t Twilight be a princess? (I just told my MLP-obsessed daughters that tomorrow is a majorly exciting episode, but I wouldn’t tell them why — I just left them with a “Dun-Dun-DUUUUUN.”) They are annoyed with me now. :-)

  • http://zadl.org/ Captain ZADL

    Did you get to call her or skype, or something like that? How did you keep from saying “squeeeeeee! every few seconds? ‘Cause I’d have totally done that….

  • http://twitter.com/ChannelDiza Chanel Diaz

    My biggest problem with this “Princess Twilight Sparkle” is that when McCarthy says “Every little girl wants to be a princess, and not everybody can get to be a princess — but you can live up to the ideals that should come along with being a princess.”

    Especially, the EVERY LITTLE GIRL part. That just brings up the whole “princess culture” that I have a problem with (I have a problem with “princess culture,” NOT princesses), in general.

    The other problem, which isn’t as big a deal, is that I personally feel it makes Twilight
    “overpowered (she has a magical horn and can fly now),” especially when the balance
    dynamic was one of my favorite parts of the show. I would’ve been more accepting of this if it was during the end of the show (We could have a whole season or two seasons of this, not just in the last episode of the series.).

    I heard Princess Celestia was originally suppose to be a queen, and from her two tweets, Alicorn Twilight Sparkle might not have been originally planned on Lauren Faust’s part, too. But who knows, the tweet itself is pretty ambiguous ‘what’ she planed, since when you give a character a “crown” instead of a “warrior necklace,” obviously Twilight Sparkle was going to be ‘some’ kind of princess, sooner or later. The Mane 6 have truly become “Princess Twilight Sparkle and the Friendship Knights of the Round Stable.”

    http://family-room.ew.com/2013/01/29/my-little-pony-friendship-is-magic-exclusive-twilight-princess/

    http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/events/twilight-sparkle-alicorn-controversy

  • http://twitter.com/thegaf The Gaf

    Why didn’t you ask what Twilight Sparkle is now? A Pegacorn? A Unisus? My suspension of disbelief is on hold until I know her classification.

  • http://twitter.com/thegaf The Gaf

    Never mind. I see this Alicorn thing happening.

  • Guest

    I like “Unisis” more, because “Alicorn,” originally meant the magical properties of the “Unicorn horn.” That, and at least “Unisis” has the “sis” part of “Pegasis” in it. It takes a “Unicorn” and “Pegasis” to make that ultimate creature of horns and wings.

  • http://twitter.com/jordanolling Jordan Olling

    Meghan McCarthy is female. You should know that.

  • http://twitter.com/ChannelDiza Chanel Diaz

    Sorry, I should’ve said ‘she.’ I’ll fixed that, I don’t know why I thought she was a he.

  • Anonymous

    Her element flat out states she’s a Mary Sue who leaches off her friends who have personalities.

    Mostly joking!

  • http://www.thenerdybird.com/ Jill Pantozzi

    It was a phone interview, and yes, it was very difficult to contain myself. :)

  • http://twitter.com/shinobi42 Shinobi

    Yay other Ponies at C2E2! I’ll see you there! -Nightmare Moon

  • http://www.facebook.com/BallinMex22 Ohmeko Ocampo

    I love My Little Pony:Friendship is Magic so much. I don’t care if I’m a 21 year old guy, I like what I like and I’m going to flaunt it. This cartoon is the best cartoon ever to grace cable television. It shows what many lack these days.

  • http://www.facebook.com/BallinMex22 Ohmeko Ocampo

    I love My Little Pony:Friendship is Magic so much. I don’t care if I’m a 21 year old guy, I like what I like and I’m going to flaunt it. This cartoon is the best cartoon ever to grace cable television.

  • http://www.facebook.com/BallinMex22 Ohmeko Ocampo

    You do know there is a Season 4, right. If anything the writers can expand on the idea then. If not it will of course as you said be a huge disappointment in the dynamics of the show.

  • http://twitter.com/ChannelDiza Chanel Diaz

    Yeah I heard. I’m stating my opinions of this kind of character development because I just like shows or stories where there’s not a “superman” of a character in the team that can do ‘anything’ or ‘almost’ anything. I guess I should mention “superrace” too, as this goes a little deeper than just Twilight’s development, as I added to my post.

    Overall, it’s that “princess culture” statement, I’m more intolerable with, I could ‘possibly’ tolerate Twilight’s “alicornization,” if Twilight doesn’t turn back against her character that doesn’t like to “brag” about it like in “Boast Busters.”

  • Anonymous

    What DA reject idea could possibly top this one in the Season 4 finale?

    http://www.equestriadaily.com/2013/02/mlp-spin-off-series-confirmed-rumor.html?m=1

  • Anonymous

    They kind of lost me when they nonironically made a villain a Queen, and implied FiM princesses are only princesses in name only. G1 was frickin’ more realistic than this.

    BUT WHO CARES, GIRL TOYS

  • http://twitter.com/ChannelDiza Chanel Diaz

    More like stereotypical girl toys.

  • Anonymous

    Good interview. There was one typo you should fix though: “It was such a cliffhanger when the show originally ended that I was ended that the fans were not going to be into this show”

    I was “ended”? Probably should be “disappointed” or something like that, right?

  • elala

    That wall of text was well placed and completely necessary.

  • http://www.thenerdybird.com/ Jill Pantozzi

    Thanks for catching that!

  • http://twitter.com/ChannelDiza Chanel Diaz

    My sarcasm alert does not work online. But I’m hoping your text serves a greater purpose. Thank you, I try to not be random.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ashe.samuels Ashe P. Samuels

    MLP: FIM has had unsettling racial implications in the past (That especially silly Native Americans v.s. Settlers episode? What about that stereotypical Asian pony working at a salon?), so I can understand your concerns here.

    I also never liked how MLP: FIM touted the ‘princesses good, queens bad’ cliche, though I know that was far from Lauren Faust’s decision. Executive bullshit to keep the status quo. Like ya do.

    I’ve got hope that the dynamic between the friends won’t change; they’ll likely address this in the show itself, with Twilight saying something like, “I may be a princess now, but you’re all still my best friends!” If anything, the adventures might only get more epic from here.

  • Anonymous

    Are you saying the bug thing being queen was actually something Hasbro forced onto?

  • http://www.facebook.com/ashe.samuels Ashe P. Samuels

    Rather, Princess Celestia was originally meant as Queen Celestia, but the Hasbro executives insisted that ‘queens are considered evil, girls only want to see princesses’.

  • Anonymous

    So they just went with it without Hasbro actually saying anything. Way to suck up without being asked to, guys.

  • Anonymous

    Kings are apparently always evil too.

  • Anonymous

    Just wait and see and let them play out the story. Perhaps they aren’t planning on having it be permanent?

  • http://www.facebook.com/ashe.samuels Ashe P. Samuels

    Well, Hasbro did. “GIRLS ONLY WANT PRINCESSES”. Really, Lauren Faust got a lot of creative freedom from them, all things considered: a show focused on girls, from an established franchise, without most of the pitfalls associated with it.

    Most.

  • http://twitter.com/ChannelDiza Chanel Diaz

    True, there’s an evil queen and king character.

    And along with those characters, a ‘good’ queen was hinted in the “The Crystal Empire Part 1.” And I think, possibly a neutral, if not good, but not evil, ‘king,’ was hinted in “Hearth’s Warming Eve.”

    Hey, I think the show does an equally good job at suggesting boys and girls just want princes and princesses! So at least, Hasbro’s ‘one’ step above all the others, with its new “Princess AND Prince Culture?” ;D

  • http://twitter.com/ChannelDiza Chanel Diaz

    I can only ‘hope.’

  • Alex Sturgill

    I thought Alicorn was the name of the material that the unicorn horn is made of.

  • Arieda Gardner

    Actually, the reason why I liked the Twilight Sparkle Princess thing is because she had to earn it. It wasn’t just an accident of birth, but she had done something that even a great wizard couldn’t achieve, which is what caused the transformation. In Equestria, the Princesses serve as presidents. I agree that Megan should have said ‘many girls’, but the way they portrayed her becoming a princess, from a normal unicorn to one that had been through a great learning experience, I think will inspire girls to work hard for their goals and dreams.

  • http://twitter.com/ChannelDiza Chanel Diaz

    I mentioned the possible racism with the implied information that says ‘only’ unicorns are able to become alicorns and princes/princesses, because it takes ‘magic’ to even be given the opportunity, in the first place.

    Because of ‘that,’ they can’t really say Twilight ‘completely’ earned her “wings” and “high status.” What can pegasi and earth ponies do to achieve this, I ask?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000197577056 Daniel Moreno

    It’s actually a misspelling propagated by other bronies. Alicorn is the mythical material that comprises a unicorn’s horn. It became confused with a recently created word: alacorn, which uses the Greek words ala, “wing,” and corn, “horn.” I can’t remember the specific author who first used the term alacorn in reference to a winged unicorn, but it was quickly confused with alicorn, and the older word’s spelling quickly overtook the newer word’s.

  • Ohmeko Ocampo

    Including shows like Adventure Time and Regular Show? I barely see toys for them. I think some shows are created just for the sake of entertainment.