Catching Up With the Voice of She-Ra, Melendy Britt
By Noah Michelson
If you were a girl or a burgeoning homo growing up in the mid-'80s, chances are you couldn't get enough of the beautiful blond cartoon ass-kicker known as She-Ra. First introduced in March 1985 in the animated feature film, He-Man and She-Ra: The Secret of the Sword (She-Ra [aka Princess Adora] is He-Man's [aka [Prince Adam's] twin sister), She-Ra was soon after given her own spin-off television series, She-Ra: Princess of Power, which began airing in September 1985.
To celebrate She-Ra's 25th anniversary, Mattel and Classic Media are rolling out commemorative programs.'Mattel will release collectibles on www.MattyCollector.com throughout the year, including a She-Ra action figure and Classic Media is releasing the entire She-Ra series on DVD as well as making episodes from the first season available on iTunes and Hulu.
We caught up with the voice of She-Ra and Princess Adora -- as well as many other characters, including Batgirl -- Melendy Britt. An actress, voice-over coach, and horse lover, Britt chatted with us about She-Ra as a feminist, She-Ra's transgender angle, and why the superhero was such an icon for the gay community.
Out: How did you get into doing cartoon voice work?
Melendy Britt: Back in the '70s there was a very small group of people that actually did animation voice-overs. It was a very special field. I already had a voice-over agent and if you could do characters -- most of the people back then that I knew had been actors and I came from a background of theater. I grew up in Houston and I received a scholarship to the Alley Theatre and I studied the classics and all of that. It was a background that I had that really [made voice-overs] very easy for me to get into. So much of the on-camera stuff that I did out here was really superficial and because I was pretty I always got to play either the good wife or the bad woman and that was about the extent of the roles. I don't think She-Ra was the first animation series I did but She-Ra was really special because I went into the agency and was asked to audition, but I also had to go over to the studio and meet with Lou [Scheimer] and the other producer, Arthur Nadel, because they were so committed to making this character very, very special. To me it felt it was a really special deal, and it turned out to be one.
Were you familiar with He-Man before you went into the audition?
No. No. Not really. Because my children were girls and they were already kind of grown by that point and the series was for smaller kids. But of course they told me about it and they told me about what She-Ra was going to be and I went 'Oh yeaaah!' [laughs].
What drew you to the She-Ra character?
When I went in for the interview we sat down and Lou is such a dear man and such a man of integrity and he wanted her to be a role model for young girls. Because there really weren't that many around in cartoons at that time and a superhero -- I guess you're taking on a big project to be a superhero. And that's what drew me to it. Who wouldn't want to be a superhero?
Do you see parts of yourself in She-Ra?
One of the strange things is that She-Ra has the powers of nature. She could speak with animals and strangely enough, [laughs] I've always thought that I could.
Yeah. It's very strange. I was riding horses at the time and I went Oh, my God! How weird! There were lots of things that drew me to her. She had that part of herself like every woman has -- the young girl who is innocent and really doesn't know much about the world but then when she has to draw on these incredible super powers to face challenges in life, then she can, and usually does turn into a She-Ra [laughs].
Did you have any creative input? You said that you loved horses -- did they already have She-Ra's horse, Swift Wind, as a character on the show?
No. Unfortunately -- or maybe fortunately for the show? -- I didn't have much input into what was happening. But as I said, that particular show, and Filmation itself, the studio, that was a very family-oriented and close studio. And I know behind-the-scenes they were always collaborating with one another to get a fantastic product. I do remember I was asked to go to Mattel when they were going to bring out the action figures and I thought Wow, why do they want me to go? And it's because they wanted me to really be a part of it. And then when I saw it I thought I think that looks like me' [laughs].
Well, me when I was younger. It was very strange [laughs].