Kiff Star Kimiko Glenn on Disney Series & Animation's Creative Freedom
Kimiko Glenn (Baby Shark's Big Show!) spoke with Bleeding Cool about her latest animated series, The Disney Channel's Kiff; voiceovers & more.
Kimiko Glenn is always finding new ways to have fun as the star of the Disney animated series Kiff, playing the title character. The nutty animated buddy-comedy follows an optimistic squirrel Kiff and her chill bunny bestie Barry (Michael Croner). From creators and executive producers Lucy Heavens and Nic Smal, the series follows Kiff and Barry as they navigate school, relationships, and their often-eccentric community in Table Town, a world where animals and magical oddballs tackle day-to-day life together. Inspired by the people and places Heavens and Smal experienced when they were growing up in Cape Town, South Africa, each half-hour episode, comprised of two 11-minute stories, includes a new original song. The Baby Shark's Big Show! star spoke with Bleeding Cool about her audition, working with Croner, and the difference between the animated and live-action acting worlds.
Entering the Zany Adventures of 'Kiff'
Bleeding Cool: How did you get involved with Kiff?
Glenn: I auditioned like anything else, but what was exciting was the team I worked with did some amazing things. Kent Osborn won Emmys with 'Phineas and Ferb' and 'Adventure Time.' Lucy and Nic, I wasn't as familiar with, but when I met them, I was like, "Oh my gosh! They're incredibly funny." It was one of those jobs in our auditions where I got a little illustration along with it. It's always helpful. I sang some silly songs that you see in the pilot, and they took a liking to me [laughs].
When you recorded your lines, did you share any space with Michael in the booth, or was it by yourself?
When I auditioned, I was in my closet because it was during the pandemic. We often will do a mini-ensemble recording of him and I if our schedules and episodes line up that we're both recording. That's always so fun and, honestly, a little bit intimidating because he's so funny. He's skilled. I met him in person the other day, which was like we had been working together for years, and so it was exciting.
How do you compare as an actor the differences between working in live-action and voiceover?
They're different. With animation, there's so much possibility because it's a cartoon. You can be small, intimate, and very genuine, but you can also be loud, big, and as wild as possible. Sometimes it's more interesting that way. I love the range that it elicits and the fact that often, they like to use my singing voice. I was thrilled to know that they were going to do that with 'Kiff.' [My voice] sort of gets scratched when I get to do voice-over at times since I get to sing a lot. It's different in that regard.
You have such a wide range of roles that you had over time with voiceover and animation. Was it something that you decided early on that was ideal for opportunities in your acting career?
"Opportunities" is a funny word. The most amazing thing about voiceover is that it's truly based on your voice, talent, and nothing else. You can show up in pajamas, basically. In my line of work, it's a lot of dressing up, looking beautiful, or whatever. It's a lot about the esthetics, and so I appreciate the fact that this is so not about that. It's mostly about having fun and bringing ideas to the table. There are so few egos in this industry with the voiceover world. It's the easiest, most fun job you can imagine. You can roll up in not jeans, which I love, and then you can act like a child at play. It's so much fun.
How do you compare working at Disney as opposed to another animation studio?
With Disney comes the name and everything. It's not so different, and I find in the animation world, people are relatively sweet, welcoming, and open. I've had a great experience. I can't define it between one or the other, so they've all been lovely experiences.
Is there any inspiration that helped drive your performance on Kiff, or is it something that came naturally from the script and you knew right away?
When I get the script, it's always so brilliant, funny, and ridiculous. Seeing the things that they get into and the personality that the writers bring to Kiff gives you the foundation of brilliance, and then you can add, expand and bring it to life. What I love about Kiff is that she's so adventurous, down for anything, positive and good-natured. She's a goody-goody in the most earnest way [laughs], but also high energy and quick. I relate a lot to her, and I have so much fun playing with her.
Kiff, which also stars James Monroe Iglehart, Lauren Ash, Rachel House, Nichole Sakura, Josh Johnson, Deedee Magno Hall, Katie Crown, and Rhys Darby, premieres Friday on the Disney Channel and streams on Disney+ afterward.