SDCC 2018: Talking Voice Acting and Animation with Actress Kari Wahlgren

In the midst of the insanity that comes with San Diego Comic Con, we had the chance to connect with actress Kari Wahlgren in the buzzing lobby of the Omni Hotel for a quick one-on-one. Her voice has been far and wide, most recently on the rebooted second season of FLCL (FLCL: Progressive) as well as OK K.O.! Let’s Be Heroes.

You can also hear her in the role of Marsha Krinkle on Netflix’s Boss Baby: Back in Business series, and we got the chance to talk to her about animation, voice acting, and her thoughts on San Diego Comic Con!

Katie Cardwell: A lot of television critics are saying we’re in a “golden age of television” right now. Mostly they say it in reference to live action but I wanted to know from your perspective of being a voice actor heavily involved in a number of animated series – where do you think their place is, in this “golden age”? 

Kari Wahlgren: I think in some ways it is very much a golden age of animation right now because the ways of making animation are getting so much faster and there’s so much more they’re making. You know, I remember as a child you’d wait for the one big Disney movie to come out and it was every two or three years. It was an event.

Now, there are constantly animated movies coming out and there are so many different channels and there’s streaming, there’s all sorts of different platforms, so a lot more is getting made. I think in that way, we’re less precious with animation now.

There are so many different places to air all different kinds of animation it is not like it has to just be “this one thing” or “just be family friendly” it can be lots of different things. I think the experimentation and the platform for animation is much bigger right now. 

What do you think about accessibility in terms of animation, both viewership being a little more diverse – growing up I remember a lot of the cartoons were “for boys” – but also for creators who are wanting to put their new ideas out there with things like Twitch, Youtube. What’s been your experience and thoughts?

KW: Well first off I think you bring up an awesome point that it has blown wide open for girls and women. That’s made up one of the fastest growing target audiences over this last five years. I think that we’re not only starting to see a lot more content for everybody – and it isn’t just being marketed to boys – but we’re starting to see a lot more females on the production side.

More of my voice over animation directors are are women than men. There are more show creators, there are more women writers, and I think it is really exciting. I think the landscape is really shifting. 

Going into your career a little bit, can you tell me what got you into voice acting? 

KW: I loved cartoons as a kid and so I always knew people were doing the voices and I always wanted that to be part of my career. It just kind of took off once I moved to Los Angeles. 

What were some of your favorite cartoons growing up?

KW: I was a big Disney princess fan when I was a little girl and then Batman: The Animated Series had a huge influence on me. That was one of the ones where I watched it and said “I want to do voice overs as a job, I want to do that with my life.” And, for the very first time, I got to meet Kevin Conroy today. 

Do you have a preference for doing voice over for animation as opposed to video games, or is there not much difference between the two? 

KW: There’s definitely a difference. Video games in some ways are a lot more technical and strenuous. You have to record pages and pages and pages of fight noises and death screams and things like that. But the story telling in video games is getting better and better as well. So I like to be able to work on a lot of different things, it keeps me interested and creatively excited. 

What’s been one of your favorite projects to work on recently? 

KW: Oh man, it is hard to pick one. I will say the new Boss Baby series just released on Netflix. I’ll tell you, that show, I play this really soulless horrible fake news reporter Marsha Krinkle who has been so much fun to play. So that’s one that pops up. And then OK K.O.! Let’s Be Heroes is always fun when I get to do that. 

Have you gotten a chance, with the rise of web series and these platforms being referred to as “new media”, to work with any creators doing web series? Anyone doing Twitch series? 

KW: Not Twitch, but web series absolutely. Moving comics and the experimentation of the platforms is growing so yeah there’s been a number of newer things that I’ve worked on. 

What’s the experience been like? Has it been much different from what you’re usually doing?

KW: I don’t know, I can’t say that it is much different in some ways because you’re coming and doing your voice for a script. But the collaboration is interesting because they’re figuring out putting it together and you’re not sure exactly how it is all going to turn out. 

We’ll round this out with a couple final questions. First, what are some of your upcoming projects we should keep an ear out for? 

KW: Well, we’ve got the first season of FLCL coming out in September, so that’s big. I’m trying to think of what else I can talk about yet… There’s a pretty cool game announcement coming soon but I can’t talk about it yet. Fans can find me on Twitter and Instagram, and I’m really excited to tell you guys pretty soon about that. 

Last question, because we’re at San Diego Comic Con – what’s been your favorite part of the convention so far? 

KW: Oh god, seeing all the costumes is always so much fun and just the spectacle of it all. It is great. It is like being at Disneyland for nerds, myself included. 

We want to send out a huge thank you to Kari for taking time to talk with us during a very business convention. I hope everyone was able to catch her on the Cartoon Voices 1 panel – she and the rest of the panelist were fantastic during an exciting and hilarious table read of Rapunzel. As mentioned above you can catch her in FLCL coming out in September, Boss Baby: Back in Business on Netflix now, and can take a peek at her IMDB page for other shows she’d lent her voice to!