The Secret Voice Behind MTV's Daria
By Josef Adalian

Tracy Grandstaff has no acting experience or show biz connections.

So how did she land the job as the voice of "Daria" on MTV's hit animated show?

"I was just the only chick on the staff," laughs Grandstaff, who was working as an MTV staff writer when "Beavis and Butthead" producer Mike Judge decided to create an ultrasmart, supercynical female teen-ager named Daria Morgendorffer to confound his hormonally charged cartoon cut-ups.

Since she had provided voices for a few minor female characters on "Beavis and Butthead" in the past, Grandstaff - who's worked at MTV since 1989- became the logical choice for Daria. Indeed, there wasn't much of an audition process.

"I just got in the booth and started reading with a monotone," she says.

Daria quickly emerged as a popular recurring character on "Beavis and Butthead," and it wasn't long until MTV executives decided to give the droll teen- and, by extension Grandstaff- her own spin-off series.

With the MTV hype machine supporting it, "Daria" became an instant hit.

The half-hour show begins its second season tonight with a new episode at 10:30p.m., preceded by two marathons of episodes from the first season - 10am-4p.m. and 8p.m. -10:30p.m. on MTV.

Despite the success of "Daria," Grandstaff's life hasn't changed all that much: She's still an MTV staff writer, churning out witty banter for the network's veejays and scripts for on air promotional spots.

Recording sessions for "Daria" take up a few hours of one day, twice a month, from April through November.

"Most people at MTV don't even know I do the voice of Daria," she says, adding that those who do "make sure I'm grounded. We're all family."

As for the financial benifits of benefits of giving voice to an animated character, "I'm not buying property in tghe Poconos, from [the money she makes from] 'Daria,' " Grandstaff reveals, adding that her role as a staff writer is "the day job" which pays her rent.

While admitting that she and Daria share some personality traits, Grandstaff believes that in most areas, the cartoon and the human voice behind it are distinctly different.

"She's skeptical about anything beyond the four walls of her room," the thirty-something Grandstaff says of the animated teen. "She doesn't put up with crap. She's suspicious of adults [and] she doesn't try to fit into trends. She reflects this generation, which doesn't want to be labeled."

Daria will once again be forced to deal with the absurdities of the real world this season. Upcoming episodes call for her to serve as a bridesmaid, attend a medieval fair, go on a paintball trip, and suffer through a mysterious illness.

Daria will also continue her half-hearted attempt to woo the sort- of love of her life, Trent.

"There will be some sexual tension there," Grandstaff predicts. "Or at least as sexual as Daria can get."

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