Actress and web personality Tiffany Smith chatted about working with Kevin Smith on new animated series Masters Of The Universe: Revelation.
In addition to playing the original character “Andra” in the new Netflix animated superhero fantasy Masters Of The Universe: Revelation, Tiffany Smith will also host the accompanying aftershow alongside series creator Kevin Smith (Clerks, Dogma, Mallrats).
Read on for Tiffany Smith’s full interview with Courageous Nerd, where she discusses the series, landing the role, acting beginnings and more. Alternatively, you can listen to the full conversation on our YouTube channel, linked below.
This interview has been slightly condensed for length and clarity. The full conversation is available in audio form on the Courageous Nerd YouTube channel, linked below.
Welcome, Tiffany and thank you for taking the time to speak with us.
Tiffany Smith (TS): Yeah, thanks for having me. I’m excited to chat.
You’ve been working professionally as an actress and host for several years. Going back in time slightly, where did your interest in the entertainment industry first start?
TS: For me, I always had an interest in the entertainment industry when I was really little. My parents are both academics – my mom was a teacher. They were like, “You need to go to college, that’s very important. Then you can see what you can do after that.” They were amazing and supportive by saying, “What’s something you can study that could help if you do go into entertainment, but also, you could get a job a little more easily in the industry?” So, I studied Broadcast Journalism at Syracuse, they have an incredible program at Newhouse. I feel very fortunate that I got to go there.
I studied Broadcast Journalism and minored in the music industry because at that time I thought I was going to be a singer. Or, the goal was to be an MTV DJ. So, after that, I started working at a modeling agency actually, I was an assistant to agents. I was too nervous to audition. I left college and had a reel with newscasting stuff that I’d done. They started sending models that we would talk to out on auditions and I was like, “If they can do it, I think I can do this.” I started submitting myself and getting auditions, booking things. I was like, “Okay, this is where my passion is. I’m going to give my all to it.”
I was always the ‘new girl’ so it’s like, “I know I’m always going to have something in common with someone. Let’s try and figure out what it is.” That’s where I think the hosting and curious side of me is really engaged.
In Netflix’s new animated series Masters Of The Universe: Revelation, you play the character ‘Andra’. Could you describe the premise of the show and the role your character plays, for anyone who may be unfamiliar?
TS: So, Masters Of The Universe: Revelation is a continuation of [He-Man and the Masters of the Universe], the 80s cartoon that so many people loved, myself included. I have the action figures, I watched the show. I really think everyone involved with the show put their hearts and soul into it. I think that comes across. At least for me, it’s a real love letter to the fans, myself being one of them. It’s all the things you want from He-Man and Masters of The Universe.
Andra, I love her so much. The name comes from a character that was in the comics but they didn’t really develop her a ton. They were like, “We want to bring in a new character, let’s honor the legacy and bring a name that people might know.” That was where Andra came in. I think she plays this entrance for the audience. She’s excited about everything in Eternia, when she meets people it’s “Oh my God! It’s He-Man, it’s Skeletor.” She gets to fangirl out in this world. On top of that, what I love so much is that she is an engineer, she’s a badass, she’s willing to do anything to go on an adventure. A big part of her is focused on family and loyalty. I think having all of those different layers is really cool in the character.
Specifically for me – there have been a couple of black or diverse characters in the old cartoon, but this is the first character where it’s female, she’s really developed, she’s one of the forefront characters. Being a kid growing up watching cartoons, there wasn’t a lot diversity I saw where I could point to a character and be like, “That person looks like me!” Or, looks kind of like me or see myself there. It feels really, really amazing to get to be a part of a genre/franchise that I loved so much as a kid. Now, getting to voice that character… if I could bring myself/little kid Tiffany to this cartoon, how excited I’d be to see a character like Andra on the show.
Since you mentioned your own fanhood/knowledge of the original He-Man cartoon, do you think people who have never seen it will be able to appreciate this show?
TS: Absolutely. The thing that I think is so cool about our show is rhat somehow it still brings up the nostalgia from when you were a kid, but it’s grown-up. It feels like the show that 2021 Tiffany wants to see about Eternia. I think you have enough context where it’s not something like if you didn’t know about He-Man, Skeletor or Sorceress from the original cartoon, you’re still going to be able to follow along on this show. The animation is so beautiful, the music is incredible. I think we get to dive into some really cool stuff. I didn’t know a ton about Scare Glow when I was a kid. Now, getting to see stuff where I actually sat and thought about, “What are my fears? What would be something that I’d want to deal with?” I think that’s something really cool that hopefully adults who watched the show growing up can relate to and then having conversations with kids watching the show.
I have totally geeked out because I have a lot of friends who have kids now and they’ll send me pictures of them watching. They’re like, “I get to enjoy this fandom that I had as a kid now with my son/daughter.” That’s awesome.
The current landscape of Netflix and streaming allowed for the first 5 episodes to be released on July 23rd, 2021. Is there a difference, in your opinion, of having such large amounts of content being dropped compared to waiting weekly for the next episode?
TS: Our show came out on July 23rd – the first 5 episodes of Season 1, Part 1. There will be a Season 1, Part 2. I don’t know what the date is, I’m waiting as eagerly as everyone else to find out when those will drop. I think it’s really cool because we got to have a really amazing cliffhanger to the end of Part 1 and it gives people time to sit with that. I think a lot of times when you get the whole season – I binge-watch so much stuff, but a lot of times when you binge it if there’s a cliffhanger in the middle, you almost forget about it. You get to the end and be like, “Oh my gosh, that other thing totally happened.” It’s been really fun for me to have friends, family and social media watch the first 5 episodes then connect with everybody about those. Then, the fact we get to do it again, I’m so excited about that.
The show was developed by Kevin Smith, a very successful and well-respected filmmaker. How was your experience of working with Kevin on this project?
TS: I’ve gotten to work with Kevin in the past, as a host. I did stuff for The CW and The Flash. I think the first time I got to interview him was for something to do with Justice League. He and I and Greg Grunberg hosted a show for AMC called Geeking Out for a while. We had experience together as hosts so when this audition came up, I was like, “I don’t want to say anything, I just want to audition and see what happens.” When I booked it, I was so excited because we did know each other. I messaged him saying, “I cannot wait to work on this show with you.” He was just so awesome and supportive. Anybody who does anything in entertainment, there’s definitely a part of it where you’re in front of the camera. Whether you’re it’s your voice or your face or you’re writing something, so much of that does depend on other people hearing it and being like, “that was awesome.” I booked it on my talent and that’s something I feel really, really proud of.
The thing I love about Kevin is if he comes into a project, he’s going to give it 100%. As soon as he signed on for Masters of the Universe: Revelation, he was all in. I think that comes across. Rob David who started our show, he’s an exec over at Mattel and was so passionate about Masters of the Universe: Revelation. It started at the top with everyone being so passionate and excited, wanting to do the best they could for the show to be successful and to have that heart come across on-screen, which I feel like it totally does.
As for the show’s cast, it’s a ‘who’s who’ of the sci-fi/fantasy genre – from Mark Hamill, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Lena Headey and Chris Wood. Since the show is animated, were you able to meet anyone in person?
TS: With animation in general, you don’t get to meet actors in person. This one in particular because we recorded during the pandemic was a little bit harder even. A lot of people recorded stuff from their home studios and closet studios. My first session that I went in was quite a while ago. It was so exciting because I got to see Susan Eisenberg, who’s our Sorceress, Stephen Root, who’s Cringer and Henry Rollins who’s Tri-Klops. They all came in to do a little bit of voiceover. That was incredible for me, because I’ve done some voiceover before but this was my first series where I was going to get to do a lot with her. It was really awesome, encouraging and incredible to watch the three of them do what they do and soak in as much as I could, just from that one session.
After that, the first time I met Sarah and Chris was over Zoom for our press day. We did our Comic-Con panel and Tony Todd was a part of that one too, which was awesome. The first time we met was hours sitting in front of a screen, chatting with each other and chatting with reporters; it was great. When the first trailer came out, it was a break in the craziness of the world. We actually all did get together, everyone who was in LA. It was awesome, because some of the animation directors from Powerhouse had come out to LA. We got to meet a lot of people that we hadn’t connected with in-person and gush over each other about how awesome we thought the show was [as well as] how great everyone’s performance/job on the show was.
Overall, what do you most enjoy about working on an animated series compared to doing live-action?
TS: Voiceover and on-camera, there are obviously some similarities because it’s acting. There are also a lot of differences. I love both of them! There is something so cool about being in the voiceover booth and not thinking about, “How does my face look when I’m saying this?” Or, can I use my body to make a voice come out that’s different from what I might normally do, if my face was on-camera? I think there is a freedom there that’s a little bit different than when you’re in front of the camera.
The other part is you have to think about certain things – if I’m on-camera and I’m scared, I might put my hands up to my face or if I’m excited, I might do something. I have to be careful with that stuff or it’ll pick it up on the mic. If I want to turn away, you can’t do that, they need to get your clean audio. There’s a lot of things I learned where, “this is a trick for me to remember here” and it’s just flipping the switch when it’s voiceover or on camera. There’s such a unique quality to both of them and the crossover helps both sides, for me.
In your opinion, what do you think more aspring actors should be aware of before pursuing a career in the industry?
TS: I think the first thing for myself is if I could see myself being genuinely happy doing anything else, I would do that. This industry, it’s really hard. There’s a lot of hard times, a lot of work. A lot of it is work that you have to come up with yourself. When I first started, I remember I would give myself ‘x’ amount of ‘office hours’ at home to submit for auditions or to watch a TV show for a certain actor. Or, watching a TV show when I was hosting stuff and writing fake copy – how would I talk about this show? What would I say about this? I think a big piece of this is really having that drive for yourself to find those things that you can be doing. It’s a really big part of this job and finding what success looks like for you.
I absolutely love this, but there are definitely days where I had more consistency or that it wasn’t so up in the air all the time. This year specifically was so interesting because as an actor, we weren’t on sets. We couldn’t do any filming, really. How do you find stuff during that year to keep working at your craft, keep yourself positive and excited about what you’re doing? I think for myself specifically again, I’m a do-er. I like accomplishing things, getting things done, being busy. This year, not being able to do all that stuff, go out and see friends or be on set was really a challenge for me.
I think that if you want to get into acting and voiceover, it’s so important to know that you have the drive to push yourself everyday. The other piece that I would tell people is don’t be afraid to ask for advice/help from people. If you are lucky enough to know people who do that job and you want to know more about it, that’s a great resource to connect with.
Professionally or personally, what do you hope to accomplish with the rest of 2021?
TS: Oh, man. This year has been really interesting. The week that Masters of the Universe: Revelation came out on Netflix was my 11-year anniversary of coming to Los Angeles. So, it was incredible to kind of think about how far I’ve come in those 11 years and the things I’ve accomplished. I get to be a part of this show that has such incredible talent, people that I’ve grown up watching and looking up to as actors. On top of that, I hosted the press conference for The Suicide Squad that week and got to do some ADR and a photoshoot for a rom-com I shot in Hawaii. It felt very much like a full-circle moment to reflect on where I’ve been and where I want to go. Even getting to do press for the show and having conversations like this is cool, because you get to remember those moments you sometimes forget…
For me, I think the rest of this year, I want to keep positive and pushing forward, like I said. Right now, I’m working on pitching and producing some stuff. The goal for me this year is that I book recurring on a series or a big role in a feature.
Thanks for taking the time to chat, Tiffany. Take care and stay safe!
TS: Thank you so much, same to you, thanks for chatting. I look forward to talking to you again in the future.