Forest Hill, in the shadow of Casa Loma, has its own princess.
Voice actor Sunday Muse channels her inner Snow White to bring Ella, of the animated series Total Drama: Pahkitew Island, the sixth season of the reality TV parody series Total Drama.
The show airs in 40 countries around the world, and Muse plays the prototypical princess, Ella.
“In my situation, in the role of Ella, I swear it’s like a childhood dream come true, to play a Disney-like princess who sings and dances and talks to animals like Snow White,” she says, her face animated. “Honestly, I think I’ve been doing that role since I was a kid. I used to do characters all the time as a little girl.”
And yes, Sunday is the name given to her at birth, she assures in a recent interview at the Holts Caffe in Yorkville.
“Hundred percent real: my parents were hippies — big time,” she says, with a laugh. “I was born on a Sunday, and they took three weeks to name me.”
She was also raised vegan, which saw her “sent to school with almond butter and alfalfa sprout sandwiches, which nobody ate at the time.”
“I guess you could say that times were tough for me, in a funny way,” she chuckles.
But that experience, and the humour behind it, is what allowed Muse to explore her creative side, and in her youth create many vastly different characters, which included imitations of Miss Piggy, Nikki Newman from the soap opera The Young and the Restless and Celine Dion.
She attended the Etobicoke School of the Arts, as well as the National Theatre School of Canada in Montreal, did stand-up comedy and has lent her voice to the Care Bears, Rolie Polie Olie and The Cat in the Hat Knows A Lot About That!.
As for role models, she credits Canada’s rubber-faced thespian Jim Carrey (in his early years) as an influence.
“I just spent hours in front of the mirror,” she recalls. “I remember Jim Carrey and reading an article where he said he spent a lot of time in front of the mirror making faces.
“I was like, ‘Oh my god! There’s somebody else like me!'”
It’s that comedic background that allowed her to grow and be able to do many of the cartoon voices she does now. She’s returned to some of her roots, most recently in a webseries called Backseat with P and J, with actor Rick Howland.
“Really I do cartoon characters, but they come from my imagination and the stage,” she says. “Comedy brought some characters to life.”
During the course of the interview, some of those voices spill out into conversation. Early on, she reverts to an aloof, nasally tween named Precious, and later on she alters her voice to sound like a confident Indian woman.
“I really, really don’t sound like myself, and she’s really, really bitter — not fun to be around because she says things that would not be very nice,” she says in the voice of Precious. “She doesn’t like you, even if you like her or not.”
When she’s not slipping in and out of character, Muse teaches voice classes, and has a book, You Can Do Cartoon Voices, Too! that was published in 2012.
“I encourage people to find outlets for characters if they’ve got lots of voices inside of them,” she declares. “I really think it’s a call to greater expression.”