Tuesday, November 13, 2007

VA Sightings November 2007!

Julie Lemieux Cast in New Cartoon!

Almost a year in advance, we have some news of a future VA sighting! Clang Invasion is a very diverse joint production between Singapore’s Scrawl Studios and the Media Development Authority of Singapore, Canada’s Decode Entertainment and YTV, as well as Hong Kong’s Agogo Entertainment. This is a cartoon that’s a “fast-paced, anything can happen, roller coaster ride of comedy that has the same attention span as the kids that are in the story.” Daisy and Robin Harrison are your average siblings who live a boring life, until the day it all changes when dysfunctional alien robots crash land in their backyard! Julie Lemieux (Sammy, Peruru, and Young Darien) will be voicing the lead character of Robin (pictured as the redhead sitting in the middle of the couch [courtesy Decode])! What’s even bigger is that this cartoon will be making its debut at the upcoming Cannes Film Festival in May 2008. We have heard rumors of an even bigger VA-related production making a debut at the same festival but we are awaiting confirmation, and you will be the first to know once we do!

Robert Tinkler Returns to Television!

We have a feeling that due to the Writers Guild of America strike, some television shows that were scheduled as mid-season replacements have been moved in their scheduling to keep viewers watching newer programming. Notes From the Underbelly was one of these shows that wasn’t supposed to return to the airwaves until at least January, but will now return to ABC November 26th. Robert Tinkler (Rubeus) plays the constantly thrown-around Ben, the assistant to workaholic lawyer Cooper (oplayed by Rachel Harris). Fans can also check out Robert playing various voices on the Fox Cartoon American Dad, and hear some newly-posted soundscapes on his official website!

And As Promised, a Sugar Fix!

Stephanie Beard fans, a few weeks ago we got a complete surprise here at Moon Chase! We heard from Sugar herself over Veoh , and though we can't really talk about what is going on, we've noticed that there has been a lot of chatter all over the internet wondering where she is. She's really busy in Hollywood right now with making her career. Starting a new phase in life is never easy and we are rooting for you Sugar in the hopes that things get a little smoother for you soon!

In the meantime, we dug up a few older articles from our Vault that we are pasting and linking after the jump! Click the orange-colored text if you're ready!

From Young People's Press (2005):

That can't be your real voice
By Sydnia Yu

Every weekday afternoon, between episodes of Jimmy Neutron and Spongebob SquarePants, Sugar entertains YTV’s young viewers with her goofball antics and energetic personality.

One day the four-foot-eleven host for The Zone is giggling with co-host Carlos about superheroes or her pigtails, the next she’s strutting her stuff, doing victory dances and falling off a dirt bike for the first time.

In the world of children’s television, Sugar fits right in.

She acts like one of them, she looks like one of them, and she even sounds like one of them.


“I get a lot of kids that say, “I love your voice, I love your voice!” says the host, who‘s in her early twenties, of the e-mails she gets about her childlike voice. “Some kids have said, “Oh, my mom has said your voice is irritating, but I love your voice.”

Despite comments like that and constant, “Come on, that can’t be your real voice!” reactions, Sugar says she never heard negative remarks about the voice she was born with, especially when she was growing up.

“It all seemed very natural until I left high school. Then doing regular grown up things like ordering a pizza, I’d always get “Ok, baby, now is your mom home?” she says. “People always assume I’m a little girl because of my little voice.”

But some of her viewers have told her they had less positive experiences.

“I had one e-mail that was from a little girl from Vancouver saying, “Dear Sugar, I’m so happy you have a little voice because I have a little voice too. And now, instead of getting made fun of, people say, “Wow, you sound like Sugabaybee! That’s so cool!”

As an actress who achieved fame for parodying Eminem in her song “The Real Sugabaybee” on Toronto’s Kiss FM radio station and playing Rini for Sailor Mini Moon, Sugar makes it cool to have an unusual voice. And through acting, she’s found a way to make use of a rare trait.

In the 30 years Roland Parliament has been involved in voice work as a voice-over performer, voice instructor and voice director, he says Sugar is one of three women he’s come across with an unusual voice.

He says the challenge for them, as with any voice actor, is not only to focus on the sound, but the use of their voice.

“I’ll play a tape to a class of someone with a really pleasant, soothing voice. I’ll say to the class afterwards, “So what do you think of that?” Their answer is almost universally, “That’s a nice voice,” Parliament explains. “Now, what did they say?” and they say, “Gee, I don’t really know what he said.”

He says people can get caught up in the sound of voice and miss the message. “In commercial work, that’s a bad thing because people aren’t getting the message someone has paid for. In cartoon work, that’s a bad thing because you can’t follow the plot.”

While unusual voices are in demand in animation, and high-pitched, nasally voices become character trademarks on sitcoms - “Janice” on Friends, “Karen” on Will & Grace and “Fran” on The Nanny (only Fran Drescher’s voice on The Nanny is real) - many actresses work hard to find their niche.

Karen Kyle, 30, says her high-pitched voice bothered her in high school and made her insecure. “They’d laugh at me, people always stare and laugh, “Ooh, that’s freaky.”

She grew out of it and learned to manipulate her voice to a certain degree with voice training from her niece, who is an opera singer. Yet her voice still worked against her when she auditioned to do sexy voices for things like perfume ads.

“I can’t do older voices so there’s a limited amount of work that can be done with my voice,” she says.

“I didn’t know where to go or who to talk to.”

But Kyle, who has been compared to Sugar, says Sugar’s success is inspiring her to try cartoon voice-overs.

“I said if she can do it, I can do something about it as well.”

Montreal actress Christine Lan, 24, says one time when she auditioned to do a Chinese commercial, she fit the physical description of the Asian performer they were looking for, but was told her voice was too high and childlike.

Lan says in a city that doesn’t offer enough roles for ethnic actors, there are fewer prejudgments and more opportunities in the voice industry.

“People don’t see you, they don’t judge you, they only hear you, so it’s to your benefit. I also don’t have to worry about my image, for example if I’m pregnant,” says Lan, who’s also a newlywed.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Rae Ellen Bodie, 35, is often mistaken for a man because of her deep, androgynous voice.

During a play, in which she played a female bully, 90 per cent of the time the first question for the Q&A was, “Are you a boy or a girl?”

As irritating as that was, Bodie says ambiguity gives her room to play more roles.

“Having the voice that I do and the range that I do, I can play male characters or female characters depending on what the need is or if the director has to double cast,” says Bodie, who plays Juliet’s nurse and an old man in the chorus in Juliet (and Romeo) at the Lorraine Kimsa Theatre for Young People

Actress, voice talent and stand-up comic, Angela Maiorano, 32, has voiced Care Bear character Love-a-Lot Bear, as well as a character on the cartoon George and Martha.

She says there are times when she’s overlooked for certain roles because of her high-pitched voice, but in other situations it gives her an edge.

“From a comedy standpoint, it helped me come out of my shell. It’s not so much a gift, but an asset to acting,” says the five-foot-seven entertainer.

Maiorano adds she differs from the typical blond, blue-eyed actors who all look alike, and her voice enhances her uniqueness.

“I have a big head, so I stand out from the average chick, and I have big hair and people remember me because I’m a freak!”

Sugar says she also doesn’t think she’d be where she is now without her “strange little voice,” and is happy to help young people realize their voice isn’t so weird after all.

“I think it’s important for young kids, if they’re feeling uncomfortable with their voice to realize that voice is something that will never change and everybody’s voice is beautiful whether it’s deep or high or low,” she says.

“And just take advantage of it, have fun with your voice if you’re feeling uncomfortable with it, play around. That’s all I ever did. Now I make a lot of money making cartoons,” she says with a laugh.


From Fine Cut (2006):

Sweet Success

YTV's Sugar proves she's more than just a voice
By Jaclyn Newman

Sugar : With a voice like Mickey Mouse on helium, she grabs the attention of anyone flipping through the channels. She’s Sugar, a voice actress and the bubbly host of YTV’s The Zone.

At 25, the Scarborough native, whose real name is Stephanie Beard, is well-known, even by those who are too old to watch cartoons and don’t have children. Off-air, her voice isn’t quite as childlike and squeaky as it is on TV. Even though it’s syrupy sweet, it has an air of maturity about it. So when a radio personality at the now defunct KISS FM heard Sugar emceeing a Roots staff party when she was in high school, he asked her to make an appearance on his hip-hop show. When the station’s management heard her unique sound, Sugar, at the age of 18, was offered the chance to join Jay “Mad-Dog” Michaels and Billie Holiday on their popular morning show as the personality Suga BayBee.

Julie Adam, a former program director at KISS FM, says the station got a lot of positive feedback from listeners who were drawn in by Sugar’s voice and upbeat personality.

“Being on the radio helped me in many ways,” says Sugar. “It was because I was on the radio that I got a call from an agent who got me doing voice work…my career took off from there.”

Indeed it did. Still living with her parents (she moved out for a few years but lives with them again now), Sugar’s life soon became a whirlwind of auditions, voice training and work in Canada and the United States. In 2001, she landed a role on Sailor Moon, a popular anime show broadcast on YTV. That same year, she caught the attention of executives at YTV and she became a host of The Zone – YTV’s long-running block of after-school programming.

Sugar’s voice – a trait she dubs her “calling card” – may have played a large part in her success, but it’s her personality that keeps people wanting more.

“Her voice is part of her success and individuality,” says YTV executive producer Melanie York. “It’s certainly part of her uniqueness and distinctness as a major Canadian host and it has given her great opportunities with voice work. However, as an on-air personality, she has so many winning qualities: her comedic timing, her wonderful connection with the camera and audience…a positive outlook, an energy and coolness that is unique.”

Sugar has hosted The Zone for almost five years, a job that requires being at YTV about eight hours every weekday. When she isn’t there, she is often auditioning for voice roles – she has been the voice behind characters in Beyblade and the Care Bears movies. She recently signed on to Captain Flamingo, a show broadcast on YTV, and is trying her hand at writing. She started a weekly column in April 2004 called Sugar Buzz for Brand New Planet, a newspaper geared towards nine to 14- year-olds in the Thursday edition of The Toronto Star.

Despite success, her busy schedule and huge fan-following – Sugar and her co-host, Carlos, receive hundreds of e-mails a day – Sugar remains down-to-earth and takes being a role model seriously. Children often confide in her when they are harassed by their peers, especially about their voices.

“When kids tell me they get teased, I tell them to brush it off their shoulders because everything about people, the things that make them unique, are so special. You are who you are and those unique things make us who we are. I am Sugar and my voice is one of those things about me.”

Sugar hopes she has a positive impact on children.

“I love to hear a child tell me they have a high voice like mine and that before, kids made fun of their voice, but now they say ‘Wow, your voice is like Sugar’s!’ I feel like I have made a difference, even if it’s only in some small way.”

Those who have worked with Sugar say she’s left an imprint on her audience, one that goes beyond relating to children who get teased about the sound of their voice.

“Sugar respects herself and respects her audience and kids pick up on that. She’s honest about who she is and doesn’t imitate anyone,” says York. “She has a sincere understanding and appreciation of her target audience. She totally gets the culture of kids and can relate to their interests in movies, music and clothes. Many kids express really liking Sugar – that she’s a great role model, that she’s friendly, funny and cool.”

Sugar also has some practical advice for those wanting to break into television.

“Tell every person what you want to be, what you want to do with your life,” Sugar advises her fans who want to break into TV. “Don’t be pushy and don’t trust everyone, but be open and share your hopes and dreams. You never know when you are going to meet someone who can help you reach them.”


From the Toronto Observer (2002):

Sugar's outlook is sweet

Energetic YTV host is doing it all, and loving it
Stephanie Beard, alias “Sugar” of YTV’s The Zone, answers questions posed by two viewers-turned-interviewers — eight-year-old Jackie Cogan and 11-year-old Amanda Cogan.

They say that in the old days, you could get discovered on a stool in front of the soda fountain at Schwabb's drug store in Hollywood. For one Scarborough native, the modern-day equivalent turned out to be the Roots outlet at the Scarborough Town Centre.

The teenager working at Roots and emceeing a staff party a couple of years ago was one Stephanie Beard. Today, she is "Sugar," a charismatic 20-year-old and media whirlwind.

She's the host of YTV's "The Zone," a highly ratd block of after-school programming. She's one of the voices in Sailor Moon and other cartoons. She's a budding recording artist and producer.

And a master of understatement: "Things seem to work out sometimes," she told a couple of young interviewers who visited her on the set of The Zone. "I'm very, very fortunate."

It's especially impressive, given that Sugar seems younger than her years. But it's a characteristic that she's clearly turned to her advantage.

"You thought I was younger, didn't you?" she asked the cub reporters, on a morning's leave from their Grade 2 and 5 classes. They laughed and replied: "Yes." So do a lot of YTV viewers, and many of the parents looking over their shoulders.

Unique and endearing
To begin with, Sugar has an unusual voice. It's the first thing that most people notice about her. YTV's literature calls it, simply, "unique." It's little-girlish, and beyond, almost as if she’s been sucking on helium. Some people find it cloying. Others find it endearing. On the air, it has more of an edge than in person, the way some radio disc jockeys unconsciously or consciously pump it up for the microphone.

She's also a petite woman, slender and under five feet. Her Grade 5 interviewer actually stood taller. So do most of her guests on The Zone, reinforcing that youthful perception.

And, on TV anyway, she's dictionary-example cute. Given the image that's worked so well for her, maybe that's for the best. But the camera isn't entirely fair to Sugar; in person, her features seem to soften, and one gets the sense of a really quite lovely young woman — instead of an adorable kid.

Given the chance, the 20-year-old also comes out in an interview. She's willing to tackle mature themes, like the state of children's TV. But she's clearly more comfortable in the Sugar mode.

"To work with kids, and to have that mentality every day and have that innocent mindset is just the greatest thing," she said. "Life is just so much about being happy... and who's happier than kids?"

When Sugar was a kid — and picked up that pet name from her parents — her ambitions were all over the map: astronaut, veterinarian, artist.

"Then I discovered acting in about Grade 10,” she said. “And I just fell for it. I love acting. That's my main passion.”

Drive and ambition
But this Cinderella story really begins at that staff party at Roots, when a disc jockey from KISS 92, one of Toronto's dance-format radio stations, arrived as a guest of one of the party-goers. When he heard Sugar at the microphone, he invited her to appear on a late-night hip-hop program.

"He just saw all that energy and wanted that voice on his show," Sugar remembered.
That became a once-a-week appearance. Then station management heard her, and made her a daily sidekick on the 5-9 a.m. show.

Sugar had gone from Grade 12 to the morning show on a major market radio station.
"When you make it sound big, it sounds big,” she laughed. “But when I was there, it just seemed like everything was going in the right path."

That might have been enough — or more than enough — for some teenagers. But Sugar is an exception to that axiom about teens — that they have lots of ambition and not much drive. She seems to have them in equal, huge amounts. She was barely in the door at KISS when she started broadening her base — recording a song (The Real Suga Baybee) that became one of the station's most requested, and attending lots of auditions. That's how YTV found her.

"I didn't have a lot of time to hang out with my friends,” she said. “I've missed all the parties. But that's what I was waiting for. That's what I wanted."

These days, she still puts in extra hours after her day job at YTV, part of the sprawling complex of specialty networks run by Corus Entertainment on Jefferson Avenue, in an industrial area near the CNE. Mornings are spent prepping for afternoons of shooting the material that runs between YTV's late-afternoon shows.

Some of it is taped; some is live-to-air. There are interviews with entertainers, contests, and just horsing around.

Children's television looks bright
Sugar says she's proud of the shows in her block — and the rest of YTV’s schedule, for that matter.

"It's really developed; for example, the Japanese animation that's out right now,” she said. “A good percentage of our audience is really into this Japanese animation. And it's very complicated. It's complicated to the point where it's at the stage of a soap opera, that you have to be really in tune.

"It's kind of a reach, but to follow along with these stories and to see what's really going on takes a lot of thought. I get lost in it sometimes."

She doesn't see a lot of sexual innuendo in children's shows — at least not on YTV. And she says the violent content has become relatively benign.

"Even in stuff like Powerpuff Girls, there's some fighting, but it's very light-hearted," she said. "Children's television is definitely moving in a very positive direction."

But she adds that parents aren't off the hook when it comes to supervising their children's viewing.

"Why not sit down with your kids, see what they're watching?” she asked. “Really, it's the parents' decision. It's not up to the people at Hit List or up to me or anybody else but the parent."

Music in Sugar's future
At the end of the afternoon at YTV, Sugar heads out for a couple of hours of auditions and cartoon voice-work. After that, it's schmoozing with industry people, making and developing contacts.

"I don't even consider it partying," she said. "I consider it business. It's networking."
She says she crashes at her sister's house downtown most nights, because she just can't make it home to her parents'. Her hours are just too long.

"That part is tough, but it's just part of the deal," she said. "I miss everybody, and I miss my mum and dad, because I don't get to see them as often as I'd like. But it's so worth it, and I know it's all going to the right place."

And, increasingly, that place is the music industry.

"I had the opportunity to record music at KISS, which was the I'm the Real Suga Baybee song. It just blew me away how incredible the response was from recording music and how much fun it was," she recalled. Now, she added, "I have a lot of friends who are in the music industry, and a few friends that are producers, and they've been teaching me the ropes."

Sugar fronts the network’s in-house band, Nuclear Donkey, which recorded “Gotta Get Out” for the YTV Big Fun Party Mix 3 CD. But she thinks her own future probably lies more in producing than in singing.

"I could never hit a huge high note or I could never hit a real low note, but I can carry a tune. I more see myself finding an artist."

Dreams and aspirations
Besides television, she said, "What I'm working towards is movies and music." It may be hard to imagine, given her bubbly persona, but Sugar also hopes to become a dramatic actress. And she's not against crossing the border for work. She says she's already had offers from the U.S.

"The States have come around," she said. "My ultimate dream would be to be able to live in Canada and also work with the States. The thing is, with this business, sometimes you have to go to the States."

And, for this mini-media-mogul who hasn't yet attended college, furthering her education remains another goal.

"I think learning is a very important part of life,” she said. “If I have the opportunity and I can afford it, I'm definitely, definitely going back to school.... I'm going to take some more arts."

Her advice for those young people who might want to follow in her footsteps?

"I think that they should find what they love to do." After that, she said, "Really dedicate yourself.... Trying is one of the most important parts of life.

"But always have fun and be happy. A lot of people try too hard. When you lose the fun of what you're doing, it's just not worth it anymore."

—Observer staff
(Files from Amanda Cogan
and Jackie Cogan)

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