Cathy Weseluck: Brony.com Exclusive Interview
BRONY.COM: Cathy, firstly let us just say how wonderful it is to talk with you. I think our first question for you…. Where did this all start for you? When do you think you first became interested in voice acting or acting in general for that matter?
CATHY WESELUCK: Well, I was working for the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) in Toronto. I had gotten a promotion and they sent me to Vancouver on a two year contract. I was working on a radio show at the time called Disc Drive. It was music based and I was an associate producer and director on the show, and it was a lot of fun. One day I was talking to the host of the show and he had told me that he thought that I had a nice voice, and he asked me if I had ever considered doing voice over work? Of course, I had no idea what he was talking about.
He explained to me what voice-over work was all about and he then proceeded to tell me about some Christmas commercials they were preparing to do, and how they needed someone to do various background character voices. I said, “Sounds great.” So I did that, and it was a lot of fun, and afterward he helped me put together a demo reel. I mean I didn’t know if this was going to be like a fun hobby or if I could actually make a living at it. But it just took off for me, and I started doing cartoons,commercials and I also did narration stuff.
BRONY.COM: Then growing up as a kid I sure you were like all of the rest of us in that you were a cartoon fan. I was wondering what cartoons may have been some of your favorites as a kid and what type of influence did they have on you?
CATHY WESELUCK: Well, my favorite was Bugs Bunny. I know that everybody says that but that was really really my favorite. It’s because the comedy was natural. It was slapstick and it was simple. I mean that type of comedy works in any medium. Bugs was cute and cuddly and that enabled him to get away with murder. He was always playing practical jokes on everybody, and I really found that funny. It’s just something that we can all relate to, and thats why I like people like Jerry Seinfeld as well. Growing up too, I was also a big comic book reader. I loved the Archie comic books, and all of these things that have natural comedy in them, and I know that we’ll get around to this soon….It’s what I like so much about My Little Pony as well. There are natural ideas there and that’s why the writing on the show is so good.
BRONY.COM: Why do you think that the show and us Bronies have become such a cultural phenomenon?
CATHY WESELUCK: I think because the show is answering a call that humans in general have in day-to-day living that seems to be scarce in today’s culture. I think the show relates to all ages, both male and female, and I think that’s great. I think that this particular show hit a particular chord and a need that is missing in society right now. There’s a lot of rules that are changing in this era. I think that there’s a disconnect between people today because of technology. I think technology is fabulous though. If I didn’t have something like Skype for example I wouldn’t be as in touch with my own family that live in Ontario.
But as far as the Bronies are concerned, again, I think the rules are changing. I think a lot of people are feeling isolated today. Men have always wondered what their roles should be in regards to machoism. Men have always been concerned with how they need to take care of their families or how they are supposed to be brave, or how their not supposed to show any emotions. The truth of that is that men just don’t think or feel that way, everybody feels that way.
So what I think is so great about My Little Pony is that the show is a combination of being real and honest, and compassionate. When you have a show that has a moral or a solution that shows that you can turn troubles around, that gets recognized by people. I think that’s the most appealing aspect of the show, and I think that the Bronies are certainly a representation of that need that we all have.
What’s lovely about the show and the Brony phenomenon is that it’s visceral. You really just can’t explain it. I can’t explain it, but what I know is that it’s bringing people together. It’s creating a community. That’s a sociological phenomenon, and that means that it has nothing to do with specific cultures. The show has created a community that’s international. It has everything to do with human needs and with the human heart, and I think that while technology has connected us in many many ways, it’s also separated us and I think people are looking for that human connection now in our culture. I think there’s a need to unite, to share our troubles and our joys, and I think people want to come together again. And the show is kind of a microcosm for those needs and patterns.
BRONY.COM: Then what are you thoughts on those that still haven’t been able to grasp it? What about those that poke fun at Bronies?
CATHY WESELUCK: Well, I think there are probably several reasons. I think it’s based on fear. I think it boils back to the basic fear of identity. Plus, there’s just a general lack of understanding. People judge things that they don’t understand, or if it’s something that their not interested in. If you take it down to a general and basic level, one person may see another person that dresses different or looks different and when they don’t understand something they put up a “fear block” and they judge it in order to understand it. I mean, this sort of thing can happen to any person or any group with any identity in society. They could be the nicest group in society, but there will always be somebody against them. But that brings up the question..How do we respond to that? The whole thing about the Bronies is that they stand tall and true. They unite and support each other and they band together and they ignore it.
One of the most amazing things that I see about the Brony community is how they’ve banded together and promoted charity around the world, and not just within their own community to all other groups locally and globally. How can that be anything but wonderful?
BRONY.COM: So what’s your process like when you’re working on Spike. How did you find Spike’s voice?
CATHY WESELUCK: Well, I’ve done so many boy voices overs in my voice acting career that when my audition for My Little Pony came up it was something process wise that was sort of common for me to do where I said to myself, “OK…Here’s another audition, sounds like a wonderful show, here are the specs, here’s what the character looks like, let’s get into the character, let’s get it down, be fluid with it, and present it.” When I auditioned for the show it was really just like any other show for me, although it did have a certain appeal to it that I really liked from the start. It was just unbelievably cute. I really thought Spike was cuter than pie when I first saw him, so I really had a special attachment to him right from the start.
BRONY.COM: One of the questions that I have for you that is from one of your fans is something that touches on exactly that. From Liberty Charlton…What are some of the traits that Spike has that you can relate to in your own life?
CATHY WESELUCK: Well, Spike has an innocence about him, and I like to think that I do too. But I guess we’ll let my friends and colleagues judge otherwise maybe…laughing I see him as being innocent. Innocence is a big factor for Spike. He doesn’t have a lot of experience because he’s young. He’s a little boy and he’s playful, he’s got his moods and he sees things for how they are. When you have a little child or an infant who is playing, they giggle or they laugh when they think something is funny, or they fall asleep on a dime when their tired. Spike represents those basics, but he’s also a little smarty-pants. He’s quite smart. I think that when some of the ponies are trying to figure something out or trying to see something through, he sees through them. He calls them out, “Hey guys, what are you doing?” I think that his youthfulness and innocence is what brings some of the comic relief to the show. He’s the only little boy there too. I guess Spike’s playfulness is me. Spike is noble and he wants to help others, and I guess that’s me I would say. He also has integrity and I think that I do too.
BRONY.COM: So what’s an average day like for you on the show when you’re bringing Spike to life? What’s that process?
CATHY WESELUCK: Basically before each show, I get the script about 2-4 days in advance and my process is basically that I just sit down and read it quietly over, enjoying the story and when I come across my own lines I just circle them. I go over it and I look at the action that comes before and after a line, and I also pay attention to what happens in the body of the scene. Those are really the only things that I may mark down on my script just because I really don’t like to prepare too much because I like to stay in the flow of the character. 099111
One of the joy’s in working on the show, is that I never know what’s coming next. Each week we get a new script, so I never know what new adventures are coming. Part of the fun is loosely preparing for it and then listening to what the other actors are doing and how they perform and react to that. My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic is a pre-lay format which gives us the license to hear what the other actors are saying and we get to respond to that. Now the trick for me is that I can only prepare so much too because I don’t have Tara Strong next to me. Tara is recording her parts in Los Angeles. So one of the other actors in the studio will read Twilight for me, even though it’s not actually acted like how Tara would act, but I have to respond to those lines. So in some ways I have to put a little more attention on how what I imagine she would respond like, and that’s also done with the help of the director. It’s like a muscle, the more you do it, the easier it becomes and the faster it becomes, you just get used to doing it. And the more episodes you do, the less pressure there is, and you don’t have the need to prepare as much. The character just sort of starts to live inside of you.
BRONY.COM: Do you ever take Spike home with you after you’ve been him for the show?
CATHY WESELUCK: Yes we keep him in a closet…laughing We’ve got him set up there with a television and a computer…laughing Not really, unless I’m fooling around with some friends. He does go with me to conventions and he’ll come out quite a bit there though.
BRONY.COM: Another fan question: Will Rarity ever get the “hint” in regards to how Spike feels about her?
CATHY WESELUCK: Oh Rarity…..Boy, that’s a good question…[In Spike’s Voice:] I don’t know but I’ll tell you something…I really hope so, cause I’m getting tired…laughing I hope so. Spike’s just a little guy and he’s gonna have his crushes. Rarity seems to go for the smooth and macho kind of characters.
BRONY.COM: Then what about Mayor Mare, how did you find that character and voice?
CATHY WESELUCK: Oh the Mayor is basically just my own base voice. When any other actor uses their own base voice they tend to go into a mode. In other words, what I would say in my own voice, “Hello, I’m Cathy and I’m the Mayor.” It’s no different then if you were an actor on camera. When you put yourself in the role of someone playing a mayor, then you get into that character. You imagine yourself literally as being a Mayor. There’s a presentation feel to the character. So you just put yourself into the character. When I teach in my workshops, I even teach that it’s important to go to the essence of the character first. Meaning, I let myself feel that character and ad-lib in that character how I may think they’d respond if they were in trouble, or sad or under attack or something. I like to work with the essence first and work out in the details in the script after.
BRONY.COM: And does that same idea apply to how you approach Spike?
CATHY WESELUCK: Yeah, but with Spike…The description of him was that he was originally a baby dragon. So therefore, I approached him as an even younger dragon than he is now. I first approached him as if he was a baby, and not a little boy. That took away from him being able to be mischievous. So I started him too young, and then the directors moved him to be of a later age.
BRONY.COM: Are you or any of the other voice over artists allowed to experiment with any type of improv when you’re working on an episode of the show?
CATHY WESELUCK: No, we stay right on the script. We stay with the words that are written. The only ad-libbing that we can do is if we see a scene that’s joyful or sad or if there’s a scene with Spike where he’s in a bad mood. Then we may do things like add a giggle or a snort at the beginning of the a line, and that colors the scene and also helps the animators to make the scene more interesting visually.
BRONY.COM: Another fan question: What is your favorite episode of the series thus far that you’ve been a part of?
CATHY WESELUCK: My favorite episode? Well, I have a couple. I’ll will always love “All’s Well That Ends Well.” It’s classic slapstick and it was the first time that Spike felt ousted, frustrated and unloved, so it really gave me as an actor a great opportunity to dig in and respond to all that emotionally. So that nice. Then that one episode where Spike has to baby sit all of those other animals, that was really fun.
BRONY.COM: Something I’ve been doing with our other Pony related interviews on Brony.com is that we’ve been asking participants to do some free word association in regards to some of the characters on the show. Are you game?
CATHY WESELUCK: Sure, let’s do it.
CATHY WESELUCK: Work Horse.
CATHY WESELUCK: Diva…laughing
BRONY.COM: Twilight Sparkle?
CATHY WESELUCK: Sensible.
BRONY.COM: Rainbow Dash?
CATHY WESELUCK: Adventurous.
BRONY.COM: Finally, Fluttershy?
CATHY WESELUCK: Kind.
BRONY.COM: Another fan question: Will fans of the show ever find out Spike’s back story?
CATHY WESELUCK: That’s a good question. I would hope so, as an actor I would sure love that. That’s for sure a part of the show that we don’t know. I hope the writers move in that direction because we really don’t know much about him do we.
BRONY.COM: Can you give us any hints about what’s in store for us in the upcoming Season 4? Will you be singing again?
CATHY WESLUCK: I don’t know….I gotta go….A moose just walked in the door…laughing
BRONY.COM: Laughing…..Is that a hint!?!?
CATHY WESELUCK: Let me just say, that if that did happen I would love that.
BRONY.COM Thanks for your time Cathy.
CATHY WESELUCK: Thank you, and thanks to all of the Bronies reading this out there for your support of the show, we love doing it.
For more with Cathy Weseluck please visit her official website HERE: