Throughout the show’s run, Aimee Carrero (voice of Adora and She-Ra) delivered a spectacular performance as the show’s titular character. Her voice work in the last season is especially poignant, delving into emotional scenes that are not only memorable, but powerful to the viewing audience. Carrero has always been a huge fan of the show and makes it known on social media, where she consistently engages with the fandom, and it’s bittersweet seeing her journey as Adora come to an end.
We had the wonderful pleasure to chat with the talented voice actress and ask her a few questions now that the show has wrapped-up. In this interview, we’ll go into Adora’s journey, Carrero’s experience in voicing such an important character, and some fun anecdotes from recording with the main cast.
For those who haven’t yet seen Season 5, this interview contains some mild spoilers.
Ariel: She-Ra’s new look is something that really struck with us when we first saw it, especially once we started to look at it in more detail. We loved the little additions from the people that Adora cherishes, such as Bow’s heart, Catra’s tiara and Glimmer’s wings. Can you talk us through your reaction when you first saw the new design?
Aimee: I was just so, so excited, you know, because at the very beginning of the season, I’m not sure if you noticed, but, you know, the characters kind of look a little bit older and I asked Noelle if there was something different. And she was like ‘Yeah, you know, these- we wanted to sort of age them up just a little bit’. [I have no idea what her intention was], but I think there is something really interesting about the idea that we’re dropping these characters off at the end, into adulthood. We’ve seen them grow, we’ve seen them have these challenges, and not to say they won’t have challenges moving forward, but now they’re going to be different challenges. So, that was sort of my first reaction when I was like, ‘wow that’s so genius’, because even as an audience, Noelle is preparing us to sort of be ready to let them go, um, into a different chapter in their lives.
As far as Adora’s redesign as She-Ra, I just thought it was such a wonderful way to showcase one of the biggest arcs for her, in my opinion, that she’s sort of grappled with throughout the series which is, this. She’s always struggled with the idea that being a hero means going at it alone, being self-sacrificial. She really considers herself as a tragic character that couldn’t achieve what needed to be done unless she sacrificed herself. It isn’t until the end [that] she realizes, [the thing that] she’s learned over and over again: it’s really through her community and the love she feels for her friends that she is able to do what needs to be done. I thought that was such a great way of showing that moving forward she’s going to take a piece of them with her, always.
Ariel: Speaking of Adora, we’ve seen her go through her journey from the beginning of the Horde to a fully fledged She-Ra where she’s learned to hone her power and make it her own destiny. How did you feel getting to go along on that journey and getting to voice her? Did your voice process change throughout the seasons in order to emulate her growth?
Aimee: That’s a good question. Personally, I loved being able to play Adora throughout the seasons because we so rarely get to see a hero story that isn’t just about this ‘perfect’ hero that is always there and the conflicts come from the outside. That’s usually the stories we get, especially about female heroes— they never have any flaws, all of the challenges they face come from the bad guys, or come from outside [sources]. What I loved about Adora is that most of her challenges came from her interior life. We meet her as someone who’s been essentially brainwashed her entire life. She’s been in the Horde, but she thinks she’s been fighting for the good guys, and then when she realizes that actually it’s the opposite, she has to take her first leap of fate, her first step towards that growth and that is— how do I completely change my life? How do I change my values? How do I change the way that I interact with people? And that is something that I think a lot of us do have to go through sometime in our development, redefining who we are because out of necessity or just because we just want to.
And so, that is something that was really great for me as an actor to be able to play. A hero, but a hero that is still learning very much how to be a hero and how to be a leader. So that was really great. As far as if my voice changed… I don’t think it did, I mean I think that—it’s funny because my voice or, […] just suits the situation and maybe you don’t give it so much thought, but I think you know at first there was a lot of discovery in Adora. Everything she was experiencing, for the most part, she was experiencing for the first time. So when you’re going through the world with that kind of awe and insecurity, your voice [tends to] sound a different way when you say something and then when you are, kind of fully in your power it sounds differently too. So maybe subconsciously there were things that I did.
Ariel: As far as Adora’s process and her journey— we spent four seasons watching her and Catra fight and grow apart, and Season 5 finally brings them back together and puts them on a path to healing. And it was really cathartic, for us at least, to see them rekindle their connection. What was it like to record such emotional scenes?
Aimee: It’s always such a treat because for the most part, AJ [Michalka] and I get to do emotional scenes together, which is really kind of rare, I think in any show in my experience. For the most part [recording together] is sort of like the first thing to go by the wayside, because everyone has different schedules, different work commitments, but on [She-Ra], they really made an effort to get us together, to film these scenes. It was just great, AJ is such a talented actress, and I think we have a really kind of great friendship aside from the show. So it was just really great to be able to, as an actor, you know, take the characters that you really care about and allow them a moment of growth and, moments of expansion and vulnerability which is something that’s been really hard for them to show one another in the previous years. So, it just was great, and for a minute there you kind of, almost feel like you let the fan part of you kind of get the better of you, like you’re rooting for them, you’re so excited, and then you have to do the job, you know, so… so it was really great, all around it was just such a wonderful thing to be able to be able to play this season.
Ariel: We know that actors often bring their own interpretations to the characters that they play, and Adora’s quirks and charming personality are largely due to your clever voice work. Was there anything that you added to Adora’s character that wasn’t originally planned or intended?
Aimee: You know, that’s funny, [because] I think that maybe that’s all because Noelle, and everybody involved, kept a very open, creative, dialogue with us. You know, sometimes you go on set and they have a very definitive idea of what the character should be and you sort of get the vibe that improv is not super welcome and you just are there to do your job, but when it came to [She-Ra], the more I sort of played with it, it seemed like the more they liked it, and the more options I gave them, the more excited they were. So really early on, they sort of laid the groundwork and made it okay for us to explore [the characters] and I think that we have a better show for it. I mean, I don’t know about myself, but I know as far as Entrapta’s little quirks, and Scorpia’s little quirks, were largely due to those actresses kind of coming up with it in the moment. Those are the things that people really love about the show, like they talk about how funny Scorpia is, or how like cooky Entrapta is, so I think, you know, we can’t help but sort of infuse our own quirks into the characters we play. The only one I know for sure [I had an influence on] because Noelle has told me is the comedy stuff. She didn’t really see Adora as a character who could be funny until she heard me do a few like little improv lines and she sort of put that into the character, which is so great and I’m so grateful to her.
Ariel: You mentioned earlier how close the cast has gotten and how you were able to record together, especially yours and AJ’s lines. What was it like embarking on and completing the show with everyone else?
Aimee: It’s funny because this is the kind of show that sort of creeps up on you as, not necessarily as an audience, but as an actor because we’re all busy, we all have different jobs, we all have different lives. Sometimes weeks and weeks go by and we haven’t worked on the show so, whenever we come together it’s always such a nice [feeling], like this is so great, what a lovely supportive, family we’re in. We always have such a great time, and when we travel together, and go to conventions, we have all these wonderful memories of getting to meet everybody. It’s also really rare, as an actor, to have a show that people respond to. It’s a rare thing to have a hit on your hands, if you want to call it that. So you just learn not to expect tha [immediately]. I think, as an actor, you just think, ‘okay well this is a job and hopefully some people will like it’ but you don’t go into it thinking that. So I think everybody was really surprised and delighted, and just trying to enjoy it for what it was because it’s so rare that you get to be apart of something that, not only you really enjoy doing, but seems like people really enjoy watching. It’s a little like [catching] lightning in a bottle and I think we were all just trying to enjoy it as much as possible. But yeah, [I’m] sad that it’s over.
Ariel: It’s been over for you guys for quite a while now, right?
Aimee: Yeah, we did. Oh gosh, I can’t even… I don’t even remember when we did the last episode, but I remember a few months ago I went in and did some pick ups or ADR— which is just sort of when we loop a few lines that maybe weren’t super clear, try to clean it up. That was my last day and we knew it was my last day and so, they were really great, they brought champagne and we had a little toast and it was just really great. It’s so rare that you get to have an experience that is one hundred percent positive and that’s definitely been my experience with [She-Ra].
Ariel: I want to backtrack and go back to Adora and She-Ra for a second. They’re technically the same character, but it often feels like the two are separate beings. How did you approach voicing Adora and She-Ra? Did you treat them as two different characters, or two sides of the same coin? Has the new She-Ra form changed any of that?
Aimee: You know, I sort of did. I come from a musical theatre background, and there’s always this saying when you’re in musical theatre class, where, the characters sing because they can no longer speak and that’s sort of the role, right? So it’s like, you’re so overcome with whatever emotion you’re feeling that words— that the spoken word is no longer enough, you have to sing. I think that is sort of what She-Ra is to Adora. It’s like this heightened version of herself, when she can no longer do what she wants to do, she can no longer contain whatever it is that she’s feeling. In this case [it’s] wanting to protect her friends and her community in a way that is like super heroic, superhuman, then she becomes She-Ra.
And so to me, She-Ra has always been like an extension of Adora, but the extension of Adora that is able to kind of put all of her insecurities and all of her questions at bay. When she’s She-Ra, she is just tasking, just performing. Not in like a performative kind of way, but she’s doing what she needs to do. So, in a way, [She-Ra] is sort of like her Olympian— she’s like an Olympic athlete, when she’s doing the thing she’s doing, she doesn’t have time to sit and consider all of the problems that are going on in [Adora’s world]. Through the seasons, it’s changed, as her understanding of She-Ra has changed. Especially in the last season where she didn’t have her, didn’t have access to the sword, she was forced to learn a lot about herself. And so in a way, She-Ra was sort of a crutch for her until she learned the lesson she needed to learn in order to wield that power in the most [successful] way. That’s a super long winded answer, but I guess –laughs- I guess it would just be an extension of her. A superhuman extension.
Ariel: Adora has left such a lasting impression in the viewers hearts, and she’s become a character that people aren’t likely to forget. So what was the most enjoyable part for you of playing Adora?
Aimee: I would say the most enjoyable part, as an actor, was being able to go on this wonderful journey. [I can’t] overstate how wonderful a storyteller Noelle is. She has this ability, and it’s really hard, but she makes it look so easy which is… infuriating -laughs- . She has this amazing ability to take what we are all feeling like collectively as a culture and funnel those feelings into this amazing storytelling. [I’ll give you an example] we started filming this, or recording this, I think it was like late 2016, right after the election. There was this one episode where it’s largely between Adora and Madame Razz, and there’s this one scene where they look up and Madame Razz says [something along the lines of] ‘there haven’t been stars in the sky for…’ and I just remember like just and it wasn’t even a— I don’t know if it was meant to be an emotional scene— but I just like broke down in tears, and I looked across the room and everyone was crying. Because of course that’s what we were all feeling, you know, this anxiety of like, will the world ever look the same again? Will there be, you know, stars in the sky? Figuratively.
That’s been my favorite part, just watching how she takes what we’re all dealing with and makes it into something that we can all understand. Especially with Adora, who can’t understand what it’s like to have to reinvent yourself. And then once you reinvent yourself, having to figure out, who you are really, like what is my identity? What am I here to do? Why am I here to do it? These are all incredibly universal questions, and we all ask ourselves those questions at some point in our lives, or many times in our lives, and she was just able to do that with this character. And so, for me as an actor, that was the most enjoyable part. And then also meeting everybody! Meeting the audience and the fans of the show and getting to hear their stories and what it’s meant for them, that’s something that you don’t soon forget as a performer. It’s so rare that we get to have these wonderful experiences while we’re apart of this story that really changes people and inspires them. That’s definitely something that I don’t take for granted, and I remember every single thing people tell me.
Season 5 of She-Ra and the Princesses of Power is now streaming on Netflix