*Season 2 of Crackle’s Emmy-nominated animated, stop-motion comedy series “SuperMansion” is back, with the premiere episode now available to stream on crackle.com. Last year the show garnered two Emmy noms for voiceover acting (Keegan-Michael Key and Chris Pine) and stars an all-around impressive cast that includes Bryan Cranston (“Breaking Bad”) as Titanium Rex.
Season 2 newcomer Yvette Nicole Brown (“Community”) voices Portia, a character she described to EUR/Electronic Urban Report as Oprah with an “extraterrestrial alter ego that comes out whenever she has to fight crime.”
We sat down with Brown during the Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour last month and she dished about her involvement with the show, what viewers can expect from Season 2, and why she likes to keep her body of work clean “for the babies.”
She also revealed that she wants to marry the Oscar nominated movie “Hidden Figures”…. find out why below in our Q&A with the delightful actress.
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How did you get involved with “SuperMansion” Season 2?
Yvette: I auditioned twice for it. I gotta call from a casting associate named Linda Montague whose does ‘Family Guy,’ and I’ve done a few episodes of ‘Family Guy,’ and she’s like a guardian angel for me. So she called and said ‘SuperMansion,’ and I grew up with ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,’ and stop motion animation to me is just, beyond. I loved how irreverent this show is. It’s really naughty in a real funny silly way, and I don’t necessarily do those types of things in live action because of the kids shows that I’m on but it’s fun to get to be a little adult sometimes, and my character is hilarious.
During the TCA panel, you explained how you want to create a body of work that doesn’t traumatize kids. Explain why it’s important for you to keep your art clean.
Yvette: Well, one of the first things I did when I became an actor was ‘Drake and Josh’ on Nickelodeon and the way Nickelodeon works, when you do a show on that network it airs forever. So every two or three years a new group of kids are being introduced to my character Helen, and I just feel like… you don’t have to do a kid show, so if you decided to do one, I think the respectful thing to do is to make sure that you don’t do anything going forward that might make some kids confused about what life is. They see you as a certain type of person, and I’m not saying that you have to live your life in a box, but my sensibilities as a human being is I’m more of a PG-13 kind of person, and I made a decision to be on a kid show so it’s important for me to make decisions that they can model. I don’t believe this idea that if you’re in the public eye you’re not a role model. I think you are and that doesn’t mean you have to adhere to it but you can’t act like you’re not. I’m not saying my way is the right way for everyone. But for me, I chose to put myself in front of the babies, so I need to make sure that my career is something that the babies can watch.
Is Portia for the babies?
Yvette: This is voiceover. I don’t know 100% if ‘SuperMansion’ is for the babies. I think Portia, for the most part, is okay, but like I said, it’s more of my face than my voice. I feel like ‘SuperMansion’ has allowed me to go a little more adult than I personally on camera would, but it’s still a great show and it’s still a lot of fun. It’s up to parents to decide whether this is right for the babies.
Do you find yourself embedding your own personality in your character?
Yvette: I think the only character I play that is actually a lot like me is Danny on the ‘The Odd Couple. That’s the only character I’ve played on a series that has my voice, my own hair, she speaks in my voice, so that’s the one that’s closest to my temperament and who I am. Every other one is me creating a world for that person. I feel like they deserve their own voice, their own swag, their own way of dressing and so I do that for them.
Describe what it’s like working with Bryan Cranston.
Yvette: Bryan Cranston is one of the greatest human beings to ever walk the planet. He is super kind, super smart, super talented — ego-less, he does not reside in that place that, “I’m special because I’m talented.” He’s not that dude. He’s decent and caring and kind. He was one of the main reasons why I wanted to be a part of ‘SuperMansion,’ because I did an episode of ‘Malcolm in the Middle,’ but I didn’t get to work with him. And I heard through the years how he was as a man, and so I’m so happy that this opportunity came up. He’s everything, and his Titanium Rex on the show is… beyond. So it’s been a complete joy.
How much time do you spend in the vocal booth recording?
Yvette: For most shows you record episode by episode, unless there’s some pick ups that they need. For this, I don’t know if it’s because of the stop motion animation or if it’s because I was added to the show. I did 9 episodes in two days, so we did 2, four-hour sessions. I’m really quick in the booth. The adjustment that they give me I can do it immediately, so that makes my sessions go faster. It’s a pretty quick experience. Some episodes you may have one line or two lines, that’s five minutes — you’re done, check in the mail.
Do you think animation has a specific advantage in addressing controversial topics through comedy that live action does not? And what might those advantages be?
Yvette: 100%, I think primarily because the characters, especially if it’s a long-running series like a ‘Family Guy’ or ‘Simpsons,’ the characters are already beloved, and so taking your medicine from someone that you already like is easier. Also I think it’s freer for the actors because it’s not your face attached to what you’re saying, it’s another character that’s not you, and so that kind of frees them up to share a side of them that maybe they wouldn’t have otherwise.
What would you say are the differences and similarities between shooting for live-action and shooting for stop-motion?
Yvette: Differences are you don’t have to go through hair and make-up. You don’t have to put on your spanks. Whatever show you’re recording you’re usually going to the same studio, the same sound engineer, the same director. It’s very familiar and comfortable and that kinda frees you up to be imaginative and have fun. It’s just a shorter day, that’s the best thing. Voiceover… you can get in and get out. You can do like, five episodes of a show in a day — just bounce from studio to studio, do your thirty minutes and you’ve completed five episodes of something. It’s amazing. And the similarities, you still have to show up. It’s harder to phone in a performance in voiceover because you don’t have your body and facial expressions to lean on.
What is it about comedy that you enjoy as an actress? Is it your preferred genre?
Yvette: I don’t know if it’s my preferred genre or just what the Lord has blessed me with so far. I tend to take whatever opportunity he places in front of me, and that’s the one he gave me. I am absolutely in love with ‘Hidden Figures’. I want to marry that film. First of all, the three women are in my sorority. I’m an AKA, and all three were AKA’s. Then you got Taraji, Janelle and Octavia killing every single scene they’re in and the story is so uplifting and sad because we never heard it. We’ve heard about John Glenn. We’ve heard about the first trip into space and we never knew about these amazing women. I watched that movie and wanted to climb inside and build a home, and that is the kind of film I would want to be a part of. I want to be a part of a story that no one has heard — about an amazing black woman. I want it to be uplifting and encouraging and life affirming, cause I feel like a lot times our images on film are so depressing. We’ve seen ourselves be whipped and beaten and be downtrodden, and I’m not saying that those stories are not valid but I would like to see the other side too.
What qualities in women do you enjoy exploring through your work?
Yvette: As a black woman, if she’s angry, she’s angry for a reason. I don’t like roles where the punchline is she’s just mad all the time. I need there to be a concrete reason why because the gag is — as KeKe Palmer says, there’s always a reason in real life why we’re upset. If it’s just the years of oppression we have been through… our ancestors whispered in our ears about what they’ve gone through, so this idea that we’re just inherently angry just to be angry is a myth. I like to show the strength of a black woman. I like the show the resilience of a black woman. I like to show the love and the care and the nurturing of a black woman. I like to show the womanly attractiveness of a black woman, cause I feel like a lot of times we’re not chosen in life. We’re often cast aside even by our own men, and on television we’re often the lesser choice, and especially depending on how much melanin we have — go darker down the berry you’re invisible. Gain a few pounds, you’re invisible. Don’t straighten your hair, you’re invisible. I like the idea, and again going back to my character on ‘The Odd Couple,’ why I purposely chose to not straighten my hair because I want this to be seen. I want America to see it — it ain’t gon’ kill you. A little kink ain’t gon’ kill you. A little curl ain’t gon’ kill you.
What we can expect from “SuperMansion” Season 2?
Yvette: We can expect more naughty adventures. More life lessons, more crazy, weird love entanglement, otherworldly appearances and amazing guest stars. They won’t even give me hints but if you look at who guest-starred last season, you can tell the caliber of people that’ll be popping in.
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