Melanie Chartoff [Interview]

 

Hello Folks! Today we have another wonderful interview with a legendary figure in the world of art and entertainment. It’s Melanie Chartoff! If you can think back a few days, you may remember that we had the pleasure of sharing some words with the great Cheryl Chase, who happens to voice the hilarious Angelica in the wonderful animated series Rugrats. Well, we are at it again Folks! Within her half decade of great successes and massive achievements, Chartoff has been the voice behind one of the greatest television mothers of all time, Didi Pickles! Yes, that oh so nurturing and often concern voice you have been listening to your entire lives is none other than the great Melanie Chartoff.

We are very excited that Melanie took some time to answer a few questions with us and allowing us to have her here at Trainwreck’d Society. Full disclosure: this is yet another interview that was completed about 4 months ago, and it is only the fault of my own that it is just now seeing the light of day. We are slowly getting back on our feet here, and we are so excited to have Melanie be a part of the reclamation process.

So Folks, please enjoy some incredible words from the amazing artists, the great Melanie Chartoff!

 

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What inspired you to get into the world of entertainment? Was it something you had wanted to do since your youth? Or did you happen to find yourself in this world one day?

My family was paralyzed by depression, so I created distractions to cheer us up-hand puppet shows, impersonations of my aunts, Ed Sullivan, Khruschev, and plays that were put on at my school.  When I was thirteen I went to a play at a professional theater and an actor walked through the audience and explained some of the tale directly to me and whoosh. I believed I was in his world inside his story. When I realized I could make a career of taking people on imaginary trips, too, that was it.  I’m still doing it—in writing and acting and coaching other people in the art of believing they’re somebody else in another world. It’s the greatest esape.

What was your first paid gig in the world of entertainment?

When I was fifteen I was a go go girl with the Crystals at a mixer at Yale University.  Phil Specter wanted to cross over his black girl groups to more mainstream venues, so he hired wholesome white girl dancers to back them up.

And were there any sort of lessons learned from this experience that still affects your work to date?

That there are many unique forms of artistic expression to explore and embody that can give you more of yourself.

You have famously voiced the wonderful Didi Pickles, and more, in the legendary animated series Rugrats, and you are incredible at it. I am curious to know what it is like to be a part of something so notoriously popular and has so much longevity? What have fan interactions been like over the years?

It’s been a joy.  Rugrats is a a cultural phenomenon.  Its demographic wasn’t just babies–it appealed to the hip of all age groups.  It spawned stage shows and action figures and fan clubs.

I have a girlfriend Lisa who was a supermom and super executive while raising her daughter. Jamie herself now an executive, recently told me that Didi felt like her other mother while her own mother was spending long days at the studio.

 

 

You have worked in just about every type of performance that exists, from voice over acting to Broadway, the big screen to the silver. With that, I am curious to know what your favorite type of performance is? If you were only able to do one for the remainder of your career, what would it be? 

I want to create dimensional characters in new stories with great collaborators on screens of all sizes. I have a soft spot for projects with music involved.

If you were handed the opportunity to create the biopic of any legendary figure in American history, who would it be?

So many political heroines I revere have been done and well.  Dorothy Parker was my favorite wordsmith but hers would be a too static sit down and drink story.

But Debbie Reynolds’ biopic would be theatrical. She started out a singing, dancing movie star; became a successful businesswoman; then was later faced with very public betrayals.  She was graced with a gifted, talented daughter Carrie, whose addictions drove them apart. Their deaths in tandem would make for a heartbreaking romantic finale.

What does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to share with our readers?

I coach folks all over the world on SKYPE (journalists, therapists, authors on presenting themselves charismatically in the public sphere. Currently I coach inner city boys on speaking with a strong stance and voice. They gain confidence that what they have to contribute is worth the energy to compose and articulate it.

And I’ve a book of essays and stories being published in 2021 called Odd Woman Out—33 hilarious, heartbreaking and hopeful stories from my half century acting and performing then, finally, very recently, becoming a first time wife and stepmother in real life.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

Watching Dave Chappelle win the Mark Twain Prize.

 

About rontrembathiii
write. write. write.

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