Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Exclusive Interview: Actress Tiffany Smith Talks ‘Masters of the Universe: Revelation’

She has the Power! Tiffany Smith is taking on a role absolutely made for her. As an avid nerd herself, she’s stepping into the world of Sci-Fi in the new Netflix and Kevin Smith He-Man re-imagining, Masters of the Universe: Revelation as Andra. A badass, engineer and the first Black character introduced to Eternia, Smith shared her thoughts with us on stepping into the world she grew up watching. Read our interview with her below!

Nerds and Beyond: I wanted to start by saying congratulations on your new role!

Tiffany Smith: Thank you so much.

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Nerds and Beyond: Tell me what drew you to the character of Andra and Master of the Universe: Revelation. It’s a little different than your previous projects.

Tiffany Smith: I watched so many cartoons when I was little, but I absolutely loved He-Man, Masters of the Universe, She-Ra. I took my first grade class photo holding a Mermista action figure. My sister and I would run around pretending we were super heroes when we were small. I think there’s something about action heroes and super heroes that, if you ever feel different, you can connect with them. Anything that makes someone super is the thing that makes them different. When this project came up, I don’t think I ever thought there’d be an opportunity to play a character within the world of Masters of the Universe let alone a brand new character, so when the audition came up I was so excited. It had a couple different roles and the end of one of the scripts I got had the “I have the power” line. I was like “oh my gosh, what am I going to do for my voiceover? How am I going to do this?” Of course, I pulled my light saber off the wall and I used that at the end of my take. I was like “I have the power! *shing!*” and I left it in my take. They’re either going to think I’m awesome or they’re going to think I’m super geeky, either way it’s who I really am. Now I’ve joked with Kevin [Smith] about it.

Nerds and Beyond: That’s such an unmistakable noise, that was a stroke of genius including that!

Tiffany Smith: And for once I didn’t even think about it. When you’re doing voice over, it helps to move your body in a certain way and saying that iconic line, I didn’t want to half-ass it. I raised my arms up over my head and thought well I don’t have a sword here, this is the closest I have. So, it worked.

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Nerds and Beyond: As a fan of the original cartoons, what was it like to wade into the mythology? When you saw the script did you think, “Oh yes this is exactly what I pictured”?

Tiffany Smith: It’s really a continuation, a love letter to the original. What I loved about the original is you can go back and watch it and there’s more than just an action hero story with bright colors and cool stuff. Every episode ended with a moral or a lesson for the week, and that’s something that’s so cool about this version. Somehow they found the perfect blend of it being something that you could watch if you didn’t know the world and having so much in it that people who watched the original series will still feel “oh, this is our show.” When you watch something as a kid you have such a different idea, and then you go back as an adult thinking “oh if it had been exactly the same as the original cartoon was, I don’t know that I would respond to it in the exact same way as I do with this series.” They brought it to 2020 and it’s so much fun, I’ve watched the first five multiple times, I’m not ashamed to admit it. I’ve watched the teaser probably more times than I should admit. I’m so proud and I’m so excited to be a part of it.

Nerds and Beyond: I’m right there with you on rewatching the trailer! I love that they’ve kept the original animation style, too.

Tiffany Smith: Everybody at Powerhouse Animation are so incredibly talented. We had to go in and do ADR sessions and pick ups of things that didn’t work or they wanted to add a line, and I remember there was one line that I was saying it over again and Andra on the screen had already been animated. She had her hands out and I looked at how I was standing and I had my hands out, and I thought “ok, this is weird. Either you guys have been watching so much of me doing voice over that you knew I was going to do this with my hands, or I am totally now her.” They are so great at attention to detail and it looks incredible.

Netflix

Nerds and Beyond: I was excited to learn that Andra is the first Black character to be introduced to this world, and it feels like a step forward in adding representation to Eternia. Were you excited when you learned that as well?

Tiffany Smith: Yeah, I grew up watching cartoons with my sister and we’d say “I’m her” when the theme song was on. It was so rare to have a character who looked anything like me. I’m multiracial, so for me it was probably Storm who was the first character that I thought looked like me and is a super hero. When this came up and they said they’re bringing more diversity into the world of Eternia, I was so excited because I want it to be a space where people can see themselves and can relate and can connect. I’ve hosted and been a part of the geek space for a while and some of my favorite moments is when a parent brings a child up or a girl comes up and says “you know what, I feel more comfortable being able to admit that I like this kind of stuff” or made someone feel more seen. I think that’s so important. I feel really lucky to get to be part of opening up the world of Eternia. I hope that a lot of people see themselves in her.

Nerds and Beyond: I know you can’t give any spoilers, but what can we expect for Andra’s on screen journey?

Tiffany Smith: I love her because she’s an engineer, but she is a complete badass. You meet her at a time when Teela is experiencing new stuff in her life so it’s the two of them together. They’re best friends and there’s no adventure they’re not willing to take, and if it means trouble for them they are down for the fight. There is one scene where I get to say “I’m the brains, she’s the brawn,” Andra is the brains, but I love that we get to see her have different aspects. I grew up reading Lord of the Rings every year, I love those books so much and the relationship between Sam and Frodo, seeing best friends going through stuff together, I feel connected with that. I love seeing friendships and relationships that grow and blossom, so I think we’ll get to see her journey. She’s a new character, her name was in a couple of the comics, but they completely remade her so the name is an homage to the character that was there. What Andra gets to be is the audience, she’s a fan of everything in Eternia. She meets people and is like “oh my gosh I’ve heard so much about this person,” and I got to geek out in the booth which felt really natural. I think people are going to relate to her if they are fans of the franchise because she has the same fan moments that I had.

Nerds and Beyond: I can tell already she’s going to be a fan favorite. The characters that get to represent the audience are always fast favorites.

Tiffany Smith: She’s my favorite, that’s what I can say.

Chase Stockman

Nerds and Beyond: You’ve done acting, hosting, many roles so how did you prepare? What was it like to be in the recording booth where you can’t use your body the same way you can when you’re in front of the camera?

Tiffany Smith: It’s really different. Any aspect of the entertainment industry takes a lot of prep, they’re not all the same. With voice over there’s certain things I had to be more aware of. You’re not expressing any of your emotions with your face, you need to get everything across with just the words. If I was on set there were things where I would hide my face, but you can’t do that so that was a learning experience for me. I felt lucky because Collette Sunderman, our voice director, and Kevin were there in the voice booth and I could trust them 100%. Anything they gave me or told me to try I was 100% on board. You’re not getting to see the other performances so you really have to trust that they’ve seen those performances and know what they’re trying to achieve.

The other thing that’s so great is the cast on this show is incredible. After one of my first sessions Susan Eisenberg who plays our Sorceress, she and I went to lunch and I picked her brain about everything in the voice over world because she’s so well versed and so talented, she’s Wonder Woman! She and I talked and I felt lucky that she could impart any of her experiences and wisdom and it was so helpful.

Nerds and Beyond: What was it like working with Kevin but also the cast? Like you said with Susan, did you leave with any little nuggets of advice you’ll carry with you into future projects?

Tiffany Smith: We didn’t get to record, unfortunately, with any of the other talent. Especially because it was during COVID, we were solo. I just got to meet more of our cast at a recent gathering, so that was really cool. I’ve done some voice over in Gears of War and LEGO video games, but the nice part about this character is I hadn’t done a whole series before. On my first day we were talking about who she was and fortunately for me, I wasn’t having to match another voice or another portrayal of her that someone else has already done that fans and audiences already have a connection to. Kevin said to me at one point, “Tiffany she’s you but animated.” That really clicked with me and made it easier to go in there and improv stuff and play a little more. As the journey goes on the more confident you get in the character and with throwing in your own ideas here and there.

Chase Stockman

Nerds and Beyond: Do you think you’ll take on more voice over roles in the future or do you still prefer being in front of the camera?

Tiffany Smith: Oh absolutely! I love it, there’s just something so freeing about not having to think about what your face looks like or what your body is doing. There was one moment where it was a fall or an effect noise I had to make and I kept trying to do it and couldn’t get it. Our voice director did it and I immediately got it. Just the way she explained, I could do things with my body to help myself get there that I wouldn’t have done in front of a camera. It’s so freeing and getting to see it all come together. In particular when the teaser came out and the story trailer, every single person is giving their all to this series. I feel so lucky to be part of this project and to have met the people I’ve met. I can’t wait for everybody to see it.

Nerds and Beyond: Do you have a particular episode or scene that you are most excited for fans to see?

Tiffany Smith: Hmm… there’s a moment where she meets someone that is really fun. That’s all I’ll say.

Nerds and Beyond: Very cryptic.

Tiffany Smith: It’s so hard because I don’t know what I’m allowed to say or not say so I’ll just be as vague as I can and fans will have to watch the show to find out!

Nerds and Beyond: So for any past fans of the show or comics who are a little skeptical of this new series, what would you say to them?

Tiffany Smith: I think everyone should go in with an open mind. Every single person brought their all to this project and Kevin in particular is so passionate about it. That was one of the reasons I was so excited because I know when Kevin backs something he’s 100% there. The writing team too, they are all so passionate. I think it’s always hard when you’re a fan of something and a new version or continuation comes out years later. There’s always going to be a little bit of hesitation because it’s so special to you. It is the show that I wanted to see with these characters. It’s able to go places that I didn’t think we could go with Masters of the Universe. I get so pumped when I talk to other people who have seen it and they say they loved it!

Nerds and Beyond: So it’s safe to say you’d reprise your role if it got picked up for an additional season?

Tiffany Smith: I hope that everybody watches it and loves it and we get to do many more seasons. Once it comes out and people are as pumped about it as I think they will be, fingers crossed we’ll be doing more.

Nerds and Beyond: Are there any elements of the show we haven’t touched on yet that you’d like to highlight?

Tiffany Smith: The cast on this show. Mark Hamill as Skeletor, Lena Heady, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Chris Wood. I remember the day the cast list came out because I didn’t know who else was cast. I saw it and was like “are you kidding me? This is a joke right? People are going to see this and think ‘we know all these people. Who is that girl?'” I’m just blown away by the talent on the show and I that people are going to feel the same. I hope that they are as pumped about it as we are.

Chase Stockman

Nerds and Beyond: That’s amazing. We’re all nerds here at Nerds and Beyond so I love closing out interviews by asking this: What is your favorite thing to nerd out to?

Tiffany Smith: God there’s so many…

Nerds and Beyond: What about top three then?

Tiffany Smith: Okay, I’m standing in my living room with all my Funkos and comic book shelves and my Star Wars stuff. I love doing jigsaw puzzles, and right now I have the mega Castle Greyskull so I’m building a Castle Greyskull. I’ve been geeking out hard, that’s something that’s my geeky passion but also meditative. A huge thing I’ve always geeked out over is magic and Zatanna. I took some classes pre-quarantine at The Magic Castle that were the greatest thing ever! During quarantine I geeked out very hard on the show Black Sails. I was obsessed, it’s so cool and well done. It’s pirates and ships, they actually built all the ships in South Africa and they are all still there. I love the epicness of it.

Nerds and Beyond: I am adding that my watchlist, it sounds amazing!

Tiffany Smith: Yes! I will say it’s slower paced, it’s not fast all the time but the character development is so good and the acting is so great on the show. I also rewatched all of the original Star Trek, all of Deep Space Nine, I’m in Voyager now. I love Star Trek so that’s another thing I geek out on. I’m so excited for Strange New Worlds, the writer of the episode I did for Supernatural, he is an EP on Strange New Worlds. It’s been so cool to see his journey from when we did Supernatural and I’m super proud and excited for Davy [Perez] to be producing Strange New Worlds.

Nerds and Beyond: Thank you so much for talking with me and I also can’t wait to watch Master of the Universe: Revelation, congratulations again.

Tiffany Smith: Thank you so much.

Masters of the Universe: Revelation hits Netflix on July 23.

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Brianna
Brianna works full time in the publishing industry, passionately building books to bring to the masses. Her first fandom was Harry Potter, which she joined at age 11. Her love for books took her abroad to earn her Masters Degree at University College London, after which she lived in New York City, and now resides in Austin. She loves all things fandom including Supernatural, Doctor Who, and more. Ever the introvert, she can usually be found reading, playing with her dog, listening to music and practicing yoga. Brianna joined the Nerds and Beyond staff in 2018 where she unites her love for all things "nerd" with her passion for writing. Find her on Twitter here: @bookbag09

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