Catching Up With the Voice of She-Ra, Melendy Britt
By Noah Michelson
Did you collect the dolls?
No. Golly, I wish I could say I took better care of the ones I had. I have She-Ra and I have Swift Wind and I have Catra. I didn't get any of the others because I had no idea that the series was going to be as popular as it was later on and because my children weren't that interested in it. I just thought Whatever. And I was working an awful lot then, too.
Was there one particular moment when you thought This show is really a hit?
I used to go to New York at least twice a year for work and I'd stay with a friend of mine who had two young boys. One was 3 or 4 and one was 6 or 7. And she had told them, 'Boys, She-Ra is coming.' And I walked into her house, it was a brownstone in New York and there was a stairway up to the first floor, and here at the top of the stairway was this little 4'year-old boy and he had a sword in his hand and it was apparently He-Man's sword [laughs] and he stared at me. He was totally mesmerized and wouldn't move. And his mom said, 'Come on down the stairs, Cam!' and he finally came down and you could see him blush and he ran over to his mother and he said, 'Mom! That's not She-Ra!' And she said 'Why? It is!' and he said 'No! She-Ra's hair is much, much yellower!' [laughs]. It was precious.
And then his brother had a birthday party and so I had to go to the skating rink and do the 'For the honor of Grayskull' [invocation] and all these little kids there had their mouths open and I thought Oh God, she's a hit! Also, when I found out that a nuclear physicist, who was a friend of a friend, took off time from work to watch the show I thought This is bizarre! This is just bizarre! [Laughs]
Earlier you were talking about how when She-Ra came out there weren't many other female superheroes like her --
Right. There weren't any like her.
Right. She was really revolutionary in some ways. Did you realize at the time how radical of a character she was?
No. Not at all. But I did begin to realize we had a very special series when the epilogues at the end gave these morals for children to relate to. I thought that was very special.
Did you -- or do you -- consider She-Ra to be a feminist?
It's very interesting. I think I was always the kind of feminist that was just beginning to happen in the '70s. I was not a Gloria Steinem but I was a woman -- I was born with talents and I was also born pretty -- well, not born pretty, but I made myself pretty --
No! Really! In theater you learn how to do that. And so it was a kind of feminism that was not the aggressive feminism that had to occur at that time. But I think She-Ra was a precursor to what may become an incredible woman today or tomorrow.
Which makes me think of this little bit of trivia that I read about how the show wasn't allowed to show combat between two people -- She-Ra could only really attack robots.
I was thinking back to when I was a kid and the cartoons that I had or I was able to watch, and some of them were very violent and I didn't like it -- I really didn't like it. I guess boys did? Or some boys did? But I didn't. I remember when I first met my husband he wanted me to play this game with him. He said, 'What do you do if you run into a wall?' and I said, 'You climb it.' And he said, 'What do you do if you run into a bear? Do you kill it? Or what do you do?' And I said, 'You talk to it. And you convince it it's better not to kill you.' [Laughs] But I think those are very human qualities and I don't know that they have a gender. I think they're intellectual qualities.
When I was growing up my brothers and I loved He-Man, but I was really obsessed with She-Ra. And I know a lot of other gay men feel the same way. Why do you think She-Ra had such an appeal for us?
I was speaking to a friend of mine whose friend is gay and he just found out that I was She-Ra and she said that he was like, 'I can't believe it! I can't believe it!' And I said to her, 'Find out from him what I [She-Ra] meant to him.' And she said 'Well, when he would watch the cartoon, he didn't know at that time that he was gay, all he knew was that he liked the way she approached things and it didn't really have a gender to him. He thought she was very pretty but the things that she did -- because she was able to do them with a nonviolent approach -- that's what he liked. And somehow it spoke to him. And that's what I mean about the show being transgender. It speaks from the heart and it speaks from the head. That's what I think. And I just did the voice but I have to give myself a little credit for that because I've been told at times from authors from different projects that I've done that an author can write the words but you have to bring the character to life. Watching some of the episodes of She-Ra this weekend -- I hadn't watched them in 25 years -- but for She-Ra I could hear and bring myself back to that time and I remember feeling those things and really meaning them. And a lot of time with the wit too -- I love that. One of my favorite lines was 'Does anyone around here know how to treat a lady?' [Laughs] There was some funny, funny things in that show that I really enjoyed.