Arts & Entertainment

Creating Distinct Characters

Nancy Cartwright

Lesson time 07:21 min

With examples from My Little Pony and The Simpsons, Nancy discusses how to voice multiple characters at once and how she manages to keep her stable of characters separate and distinct.

Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars

Topics include: Differentiate Your Ponies · The Ultimate Challenge: Voicing Multiple Characters on The Simpsons · Creating a Distinct Voice for Nelson


[MUSIC PLAYING] - One of the most important things I'd like to leave with you is how to differentiate amongst your characters. You know, it's key, really, to getting hired, is how flexible you are, your versatility. They're going to want to hire somebody that can do multiple voices as opposed to just one voice. And not saying that you can't succeed if you have a special-- a unique voice, but making a living doing this, and doing lots of shows, I want you all to get cast in lots of shows. You know, versatility is the name of the game. So let's touch on that. - I got called in to do this little show called My Little Pony, and man, I've got such fond memories of that. That was so early in my career, and we were doing 65 episodes, and there was singing. So singing sessions took place separate from the record sessions. So this was like, wow, I am making a living doing My Little Pony. When I went in for the audition, there were so many ponies. It was just a stable of just-- Surf Rider, Baby Pony, Snuggles, Buttercup. And they were all about the same age, and some were males, and some were females. And I came across this reference tape, and the differences are so subtle, but they're definitely different. - So when I was on that job, I got the description of the character that was written out, and I saw that. And I kind of tried out a voice, and they were so similar in tone and pitch that there was a little bit of a leeway that I could lift this one up a little bit higher, higher pitch, take this one down a little lower and talk slower. Maybe keep it down there, and then I gave it a little Southern accent. Then I brought it even lower than that and slowed him way down. It made him be more like, I'm bored, I don't really like being a pony, that attitude, you know. And next thing you know, I've got seven, eight, 11 characters. But I guess my point is, they gave me a reference tape that I got to take home, and that was my training ground. And as you do it, you will become more and more familiar with those characters. So they will-- it's like, you can then do them in your sleep. So then when the time comes when you have to play a scene, and you're playing two, three, four characters, and they're your characters, you will-- well, the first time you do it, it's gonna be a challenge, but you'll do it. You'll definitely do it, because you will rehearse. Like you will drill, drill, drill, until you get it right. [MUSIC PLAYING] - We did this episode-- I think it's called Bible Stories, now that I think about it. And I was doing, I think, three characters in it, and I remember doing this reading. And there's-- look. There's no rehearsal for the reading of the script. It's like, you go in there, you do your homework on your own. You come in, and we do the reading. Somebody is reading all the direction. And there I am, and I just started doing it. And this particular scene, it's like I'm talking to myself, which is-- that's what I'm paid to d...

About the Instructor

For nearly 40 years, Nancy Cartwright has voiced some of the most iconic animated characters on screen, including everyone’s favorite 10-year-old underachiever. Now the Emmy winner takes you into the recording booth to teach you the art of voice acting. In our first class to feature original animation, you’ll learn how to develop characters, get performance tips, and hear Nancy’s career advice. It’s time to get animated.

Featured Masterclass Instructor

Nancy Cartwright

The legendary voice actor reveals her creative process for giving life to animated characters with emotion, imagination, and humor.

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