Voice Actor Tara Strong Says Playing Harley Quinn ‘Has Become My Therapy’

Tara Strong is a pioneer in the world of voice acting. With more than 600 credits, she is the voice behind Raven, Batgirl and Harley Quinn on shows including “Teen Titans,” “Teen Titans Go!,” “Rugrats,” “The Powerpuff Girls” and “My Little Pony.”

Later this year, the Society of Voice Arts & Sciences (SOVAS) will honor Strong with the Voice Arts Legacy Award for Arts and Entertainment. Cree Summer will present the award at the Voiceover Career Expo at the Marriott Convention Ctr. on Dec. 15th.

Strong spoke to Variety about how she takes care of her voice and the empowering impact of her work as the voice of superheroes that inspire young viewers.

What is it like to go on a journey with some of these characters, including heroines like Harley Quinn and Batgirl?

It’s a tremendous responsibility and honor. I feel so very lucky that I’ve been able to provide voices for characters that empower girls, and friends of girls and women. A lot of those characters started not as the stars of the show. When I booked Batgirl, there were some great women-empowerment episodes on that series. With “Powerpuff Girls” and all the amazing, very strong feminine DC and Marvel characters I’ve played over the years, Harley is probably the one that most mirrored my life.

In the beginning, Harley was an abused woman. She’s a sidekick for Joker. She didn’t have an origin story in the comics. She was created for the series based on the gorgeous Arleen Sorkin and people fell in love with her.

Over the years, Harley has become her powerhouse, and Harley has become my therapy. There were lines she has said that I wanted to say to my significant other at the time. There are moments when you feel the empowerment of removing herself from situations. There have been mirroring moments where I feel most connected to her growth.

Raven has also provided so much magic for kids and adults. I meet people who say they wanted to take their lives or didn’t know who they were and how important her magic has been to them.

What is it like when you go to conventions and hear stories from fans about how your voice and these characters have connected to them?

It’s rewarding and humbling. There was a girl dressed like Raven and her mom was bawling. I went over to see if she was OK. She said her daughter was severely autistic and hadn’t spoken in five years. When she heard I was coming, she didn’t shut up.

I get chills like that, to be something I was a part of that helped this girl come out of her shell.

What happens when you get a sore throat or even lose your voice?

It’s a challenge when you lose your voice because you need your voice. I am very good to my voice. I treat it like any other muscle in my body that I work out. I have singing lessons. I warm my voice. I don’t go to concerts or games and scream. I don’t smoke and I don’t abuse the royal jewels.

I stay very hydrated. In sessions, I’ll have three drinks, cold water, Zevia because I like things that are sparkly and that don’t have aspartame, and I’m a vegan, so I’ll have an oat milk latte and something warm. I’ll interchange the drinks depending on my mood to stay hydrated.

Going back, when did you realize voice acting could be a career?

I loved cartoons. My sister and I would go down every Saturday morning and watch “The Smurfs” and “The Flintstones.” But I still didn’t know at that age that it would be a career. I just wanted to be a performer. I love to sing, dance and act.

It wasn’t until I booked “Batgirl” back to back with “101 Dalmatians” and “The Powerpuff Girls” that I thought, “Oh, this is its own career.”

Looking at your resume, you go from one voice to another. How do you interchange the voices?

Once I create a character, they’re an entity that lives up in my brain, and when it’s their turn to come down and play, they’ll see it on the script and come down and that way, I don’t confuse them.

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