Ally Maki talks about a typical day recording her lines for Giggle McDimples, representation in film, and being starstruck
Earlier this week, I had the chance to participate in a roundtable discussion with Ally Maki, the voice of Giggle McDimples in Disney Pixar’s Toy Story 4. Ally was very excited to talk with multiple members and answered each question with a lot of passion and enthusiasm. There was a lot of things that were brought up during the 25 minutes before Ally was nice enough to take an individual photo with all the press that participated in the roundtable before heading out for the afternoon.
Here are the questions that I asked Ally along with her responses:
Scott: Can you talk about what a typical day was like for you on the set of Toy Story 4?
Ally: Yeah, I remember the first session was so crazy because they sent like this fancy car and I was like, whoa, I’m normally just driving myself around the streets trying to make it there in one piece. So I got in this fancy car and then you roll up to the iconic Walt Disney Animation Studios, and you see the dwarves holding up the building and you’re going into the actual recording studio where you know that there’s so much history and they did one, two, three and four and you’re meeting Doc, who is the engineer for all of the films, and it was crazy. And you walk in and everyone is just so wonderful. Josh Cooley, working with him has just been like the dream of a lifetime. He is the most kindhearted, warm, funny, and hilarious person. And he played every single character for all three years, just over and over again. He played every single character from the smallest character to Buzz and Woody and he was just the greatest partner to have.
So basically you’d go into the booth and I wouldn’t know anything. They don’t send you anything beforehand. There are no scripts. I didn’t know anything that was going on, which I think is so wonderful because it really takes you back to the main reason why we love performing and using your imagination. Everything is imagination-based and really all you’re getting is they give you like this, the scenes, they have like thick pieces of almost like cardboard ones where you know there’s only one copy and our script coordinator Slansky will put them up on the thingie and you’ll do it, you’ll do it and they’ll take them down and like put them in the vault because there’s only like one copy of each scene. So that was kind of how we operated. So everything was just like, “Here’s what’s happening, what he’s doing, this and this and this. Okay, now go.”
It really is just trusting your first basic instincts and what you’re feeling in that exact moment. And I think it’s cool because Cooley actually told me that 85% of what is Giggle McDimples in the movie was from our very first recording session in the first 30 minutes of that recording session, to me which meant a lot because it really meant that my first instincts and what my first kind of feelings was for the character were what was really special, so that was cool.
Scott: Did you get a chance to record lines with anyone else?
Ally: I did not, it was Cooley all the time.
Scott: Did you eventually meet like Tom Hanks and Tim Allen and all the rest of the cast? And were you starstruck by them?
Ally: Yeah and absolutely. The day that I met all of them was the giant press day that we had only a couple of months ago. And I remember leaving and being like, what just happened? Like you just had a whole day with all legends and I remember my hair and makeup team had to like remind me halfway through the day like, “Hey, Ally, you knew you’re in the movie, right? You can just kind of like be cool with that.” And I’m like, “Yeah I can, but like I can’t. How do you just be like, “Hey dude, what’s up? How have you been? How you been?” You can’t just do that. And so I felt like I had won a contest, win a day in the life of being in the Toy Story family and then just being like, “Oh yeah, I guess I am in this movie.” It was such a bananas moment. Crazy, crazy, crazy.
Scott: Representation is a big focus in the industry. I was just wondering, do you feel like the doors are finally being opened so you are getting more roles? I know that you’ve been acting for quite some time now.
Ally: Yeah, I do. I feel like we are finally all at a place where we’re finding these different representations of everybody, which is exciting, especially for Asians. In fact, Asian-Americans have had a momentous year and it’s been very exciting to watch and that’s a lot of the reason why I created Asian-American Girl Club was because I knew there were all these girls all over the country that we’re the only ones in their whole school or the whole town and felt like they didn’t have anyone out to reach out to. And I felt like this was like the web that I wanted to create to create those lines to those girls and say like, “I totally understand how you feel and I resonate with your story just as much as you do with mine.” And so I think we’re making amazing strides, and the more different and varied and complex and flawed characters we can represent, the more it’s going to impact and shape culture, so I’m very excited that Giggle Will be one of them. She inspires me.