Nancy Cartwright, an Emmy Award-winning actress has been in the entertainment community since the age of 12. Best known as the voice of the spiky-headed, yellow-skinned 10 year-old Bart Simpson, Cartwright continues to cultivate her talents on-stage and on-camera as well as voicing many pïpular characters in animation.
Recently, Cartwright appeared in Peter Kjenaas' play "In Search of Fellini" at Theatre Geo in Hollywood. Directed by Leslie Welles, the play chronicles a frequently absurd adventure of the spirit, mind and the body. After seeing Giulietta Masina as Gelsomina in "La Strada," Nancy is propelled into her search for the vehicle that will allow her to express her true self. She becomes obsessed. Off to Milan, Verona, Venice and finally Rome, "in search of Fellini" for the stage rights to "La Strada."
Here's what some folks had to say about her performance:
"Nancy Cartwright can act...not just her voice; her entire body and being" --Critics Choice - Drama-Logue
"Cartwright makes a delightful storyteller and her story is humorous and touching under Leslie Welles' direction." --Back Stage West The show finished its limited run on November 26, but Nancy said she is hoping to bring the show to New York. So, keep a look-out.
FROM NANCY CARTWRIGHT
Thank you very much for your questions! When I first realized I wanted to do voice-overs, I got in touch with several people who encouraged me greatly. I hope that the following will encourage you to continue in your achievement of your goals.
Here are some answers to some commonly asked questions:
MY FRIENDS TELL ME I HAVE AN INTERESTING VOICE AND I WOULD REALLY LIKE TO DO VOICE-OVERS. WHAT DO YOU THINK?
Even without hearing your voice, I'd have to say, "Go for it!" The bottom-line is that you are interested in doing it. The fact that you have an "interesting" voice is something that may or may not be an asset. It all depends on what you do with it. For example, Lorenzo Music is credited with an inimitable sound that has earned him such recognition as "Carlton, the doorman" and "Garfield." He has a very distinctive sound that is clearly "Lorenzo" in every spot or character he does. What he does with it is what should be imitated. He is an expert at taking what someone else (or even himself!) has written and making it his own. He is a total master at interpreting copy to make it sound fresh and original every time. He constantly surprises the listener with his own unique brand of communicating that even though we know it is Lorenzo, it never sounds quite the same as the last "Lorenzo" he did.
AREN'T VOICE-OVERS AND ACTING TWO TOTALLY UNRELATED AREAS?
Let's put it this way, in voice-overs you can have a "bad hair day" and no one will mind. But as far as preparation, study technique, etc. there are a lot of similarities. Like acting of course, the amount of time is limited to sometimes only 15 seconds, but the basic job of taking a thought and passing it along with the intention for this thought to be understood by another person is still the same. Just because you do not have the need for movement in voice-overs wouldn't stop one from gesturing or taking on the stance of the particular character. Imagine how much better an eighty -year old character would sound if in recording the voice you felt the pain in your lower back, the rheumatism in your left shoulder, the years of experience behind that voice. Get the picture? Good.
DO I HAVE TO LIVE IN LOS ANGELES IN ORDER TO DO VOICE-OVERS?
Although a lot of the work can "be phoned in" (an expression used to describe a remote recording session where the client is in one state and the talent is at a recording studio in another) it is simply a matter of geographic. The auditions take place in Los Angeles and New York so you would have to be based here or there.
EVEN THOUGH IT IS "JUST" VOICE-OVERS, DO I STILL NEED TO STUDY
As an artist you can't afford not to study. Fro someone starting out, you should definitely take a voice-over class. There are many to choose from ranging from a 2 hour seminar to an 8 week class that meets once a week for 3 hours a night. Many classes address developing characters, working with a microphone, understanding and interpreting the script/copy, putting a demo tape together and how to get an agent. I am a firm believer that any actor interested in succeeding needs to continue to hone those areas he will utilize in his work. Singing, acting, improv...they will all be valuable in voice-overs.
I hope this brief summation has enlightened you a little bit. The toughest part about getting started is taking that first step. (Who said that? I'm impressed!) Let's consider that your writing me was the first step. So...you're on your way.
Good Luck and keep me posted.
VOICE OVER INFORMATION
Hello! I'm Patti Nicklaus, Nancy's executive assistant. Nancy asked me to send this beginning information on getting started in voice-overs. It will definitely help you get oriented and give you some great encouragement and basic first steps. Nancy is actually writing a book on voice-overs which will have a lot more information and I'm helping her with research on it, so I can provide you with a bit more information here.
If you go to an entertainment industry related bookstore (such as "Samuel French" in Los Angeles or "Drama Book Shop" in Manhattan), you can find books on the field with how to do it, names of coaches, agents where to send demo tapes and where you can get the demos recorded. Two books currently on the market are "Word of Mouth" by Susan Blue and "Take It From the Top" by Alice Whitfield
If I were you, I'd use those books and the phone book and get on the phone and call and call and find out what's happening. Survey people -- a lot -- as far as what is happening -- go audit some classes or go watch some auditions if you can -- until you get your own concept of what the scene is. Just make sure you don't buy any negativity that might discourage you.
As far as choosing a coach, find one with a positive personality who encourage you to get out and work. Check the statistics and see if the coach's students start getting paid work while and after studying. The coach Nancy recommends her in L.A. prepares the students for auditions, cold readings and taking direction so you can really get out there and go for it as a pro ASAP!
Anyway, I hope this is enough to get you into action.
(Nancy Cartwright's Office)
QUESTION: Hi Ms. Cartwright: I'm a big fan of the Simpsons and I just want to know how was the transition from TV to the stage? Have you done much theater before? If so, what have you starred in? Just curious. Thanks. --B. Barney
FROM NANCY CARTWRIGHT: I've been doing theater since I was 12. I've starred in other productions, so I actually went from Theatre to TV. I starred in "The Transgressor" in Los Angeles and in the films "Marion Rose White" and "Twilight Zone, the Movie"
QUESTION: I read your bio and it said you have been in the entertainment industry since the age of 12. What sort of entertainment career were you trying to pursue back then. Did you always know you wanted to be in animation? --Mickey Martinez
FROM NANCY CARTWRIGHT: I didn't realize I wanted to do cartoons until high school. All my training has been in theatre.
QUESTION: Hi Nancy! I'm a big fan of yours and I hope to see you in IN SEARCH OF FELLINI. Any chance that it might be extended? Well anyway, my question, How do you feel when people automatically associate you with the Bart character? Do you sometimes get angry that they do not realize that you are not just Bart -- you are also Nancy the actress?
FROM NANCY CARTWRIGHT: I'll let PLAYBILL and Katia know about any future production if and when they occur. It's a constant challenge for an actress to not get type cast, in my case getting type cast as yellow skinned 10 year old boy is incredibly frustrating.
QUESTION: Big Fan Here! How were you chosen for the role of the devilish Bart Simpson? --Barry
FROM NANCY CARTWRIGHT: I went in to audition for the part of Lisa but when I saw the part of Bart, I felt I could do what they wanted and gave it a try!! Matt Groening heard it and said "That's Bart!" and I got the job!
QUESTION: Ms. Cartwright: Are there any special schools for voice artists? Can you give me more information on your training? Thanks.
FROM NANCY CARTWRIGHT: I studied with Darcy Butler. There are a number of teachers for voice-over -- Susan Blu in LA is one and there are books on V.O. which list teachers and schools with classes. (See my V.O. letter for books above).
QUESTION: Hi Nancy! I'm Jessica. I'm 15 and I live in New York City. I just want to tell you that you do a great voice for Bart Simpson! How old are you and how old were you when u started doing "The Simpsons"? I heard that you were a kid, but I'm not sure! Thanx 4 your time! Luv Jess
FROM NANCY CARTWRIGHT: Dear Jessica, Thanks! I'm a grown-up and I'm the mother of a 4 year old and 5 year old daughter. I started doing the "Simpsons" 9 years ago!
QUESTION: Hi! My name is Karim Hussein and I love "The Simpsons." I watch it 7 days a week. My favorite episode is the Halloween special when Homer goes into virtual, reality. I wanted to ask you: What is it like to be a cartoon character? Do people recognize you when you walk down the street? You're cool.
FROM NANCY CARTWRIGHT: Being Bart is really fun!! People don't usually recognize me, but they recognize my name often.
QUESTION: My name is Robby Forcelli and I am an avid "Simpsons" fan. Is it tough for a girl like you to play a troublesome boy like Bart? PS KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK!
FROM NANCY CARTWRIGHT: No, It's fun!! Thanks!
QUESTION: Ms. Cartwright, are you in any way related to Veronica or Angela Cartwright? Also, how does a beginner get started in the "voice" business?
FROM NANCY CARTWRIGHT: No, no relation! See my Voice Over info above.
QUESTION: What is going in with Bart this season? He is no longer a cute spunky kid, he is becoming more and more mysterious. Are the writers shifting focus off of him and on to newer, less heard from characters? Abraham, Moe etc.? P.S. I peed in my pants during the fat episode "I wash myself with a rag on a stick!!" Incredible.
FROM NANCY CARTWRIGHT: I don't have anything to do with script writing! I think this season was one of our best and based on public opinion and ratings, a lot of people agree.
QUESTION: Ms. Cartwright, I want you to know how very talented we think you are. My daughter and I watch the show together every night. Congratulations on the "Annie". And now a question from my daughter: "What is it like to be an animated character, especially one as popular and funny as Bart?"
FROM NANCY CARTWRIGHT: Being Bart is the best job on the Planet!!!!
-- Edited by Katia Lundy