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Voice-Actress, Katie Leigh
Dad's off and the car's packed. Mom made sure that we were stocked on books and art supplies, and my sister and I made sure to pack our own little entertainment boxes filled with dolls and those cheap video games that you buy at Wal-Mart. Only one thing is missing: About twelve seasons of Adventures in Odyssey.
No, we don't have TV sets built into the headrests. (I was a kid long before those.) Instead, when I was young, my family used to spend every car trip listening to stories on the radio; ones that allowed us to use our imaginations. Even now, on trips to D.C, or North Carolina, while my sister and I are teenagers, we still make sure that we have access to new episodes of our favorite radio program, Adventures in Odyssey.
After years of listening, one character has always remained a favorite of mine: a spastic, headstrong, talkative teen named Constance "Connie" Kendall. I love listening to her attempt to squelch her curiosity, which only leads her into more trouble; the constant bickering and schemes between her and Eugene, making me constantly see them as best friends and partners in crime; the "good" advice she gave the kids who couldn't find Whit; and her many failed attempts at becoming a director, actress and writer. Connie made every episode the greatest you've ever listened to.
This was the reason that, out of all of the interviews I have done, my family was most excited when I announced that Katie Leigh-the actress who portrays Connie-agreed to an interview for Teen Ink.
RH- How did you get your start voice-acting?
KL- I started auditioning for jobs in San Francisco when I was in college.
RH- Have you ever done live-acting? If so, which do you think is harder? Live-acting or voice-acting?
KL- Live is harder for me. I've done a couple of plays and commercials in the past.
RH- How did you first become involved with Focus on the Family?
KL- I heard Family Portraits radio drama on the radio, drove over to their offices and gave them my demo.
RH- Explain how you gained the role of Constance "Connie" Kendall.
KL- By driving over there and meeting them and doing some work for them. They created the part of Constance for me.
RH- You once said that your son has basically grown up in the Adventures in Odyssey studio. Does he enjoy coming with you?
KL- He used to. It was always fun.
RH- How does the recording process work?
KL- We get the scripts and mark them for where our part comes in. Then we go to our microphones and start recording our parts with the help of the director.
RH- Were there any differences in recording the voice work for Adventures in Odyssey the radio program and Adventures in Odyssey the cartoon?
KL- Not really, just different characters.
RH- You've done voice-work in popular cartoons such as Aladdin, Jim Henson's Muppet Babies, Totally Spies! and Rugrats; tell us about those experiences.
KL- I really love doing voice acting; it's fun playing lots of different characters. I've met lots of terrific actors and worked with wonderfully talented people.
RH- You recently voiced characters in Despicable Me; how was it working with big time actors such as Steve Carell, Miranda Cosgrove and Julie Andrews?
KL- Well, I didn't actually work with them. They weren't at the session I was at. Usually for these types of movies, the main actors come in and record their lines by themselves.
RH- Is it strange to see yourself as a cartoon?
KL- Yes, pretty strange, but I'm getting used to it.
RH- When meeting fans of Adventures in Odyssey, do they ever tell you what they thought Connie looked like?
KL- Yes; usually they think she is petite and blonde.
RH- In the episodes "The Triangled Web pt. 1 and 2", many actors from the early seasons, such as Jimmy, Lucy and Jack, make an appearance. How was that reunion? Were you at all surprised by the plot?
KL- Yes, very. It was great seeing everyone again.
RH- Were you involved at all with Genny (Lucy Cunningham-Schultz) and Donald Long's (Jack Davis') wedding?
KL- No, I wasn't.
RH- One of my favorite "sagas" is the Blackgaard adventures. Tell us a little about the filming of those.
KL- They were wonderfully intense. Working opposite Earl Boen can be creepy. You just never know when Blackgaard is going to show up. My son was in Novacom, so that was really fun. He played Cal.
RH- Do you have a favorite episode, or "saga", from Adventures in Odyssey? A favorite character?
KL- I really liked "I Slap Floor" because it was such a surprise. I love Wooton a heckuvalot.
RH- Tell us a little about Hal Smith (John Avery Whittekar, 1987-1994) and how it was to work with him.
KL- [It was] like working with my Grandpa; sweet, fun and silly.
RH- Along with portraying Connie, you also voice many guest characters; do you have a favorite that you've done?
KL- Most people don't know I played Malanga in Rescue from Manatugo Point; that was fun.
RH- If you could play any other character on Odyssey (past or present), who would it be, and why?
Kl- Well, there aren't too many female parts, so, maybe Lucy.
RH- Do you have a favorite memory from recording Adventures in Odyssey, maybe something funny that happened?
KL- I love when Will (Ryan; portrayer of Eugene Melsner) brings in his Ukelele and we can all sing.
RH- Walker Edminston (Tom Riley/Bart Rathbone) recently passed away; how did that affect the cast when it came time to return to work?
KL- It was a bummer.
RH- The Imagination Station allows kids to enter another time, world or universe at their choosing; if you were able to take a trip inside the Imagination Station, what time period would you visit and who would see?
KL- I would want to see what it was like when I was born.
RH- Are there any upcoming Odyssey adventures that you would like to tell us about, or ones that you are particulary excited about?
KL- [I'm] sworn to secrecy.
RH- Would you mind giving a brief testimony of your Salvation?
KL- I went to a church that preached the Gospel and the message of salvation and I received the Lord there in about 1984.
RH- If there was one thing you would want every listener to take away from Adventures in Odyssey, what would it be?
KL- That there is always something to learn about God and ourselves, and that we are always in process.
RH- What advice do you have for teens who wish to go into voice-acting?
KL- Take acting classes, especially improvisational theater, and read, read, read out loud!