The Secret Voice Behind MTV's Daria
By Josef Adalian
Tracy Grandstaff has no acting experience or show
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.
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."