Candi Milo: Our Saturday Morning Pal

candi milo our saturday morning pal 983947

Voice actor Candi Milo says she still remembers her life-changing audition in a sound booth during the 1980s. She followed one specific request from her casting agent by bringing a children’s book to read. Her hands flipped through the thick pages of The Three Little Pigs. Each of the star characters and Big Bad Wolf would come to life with her own cartoonish voice. As the sound team recorded her voice through reel-to-reel tape from a booth, an executive producer would be listening closely.

“I don’t know if I really want to do this. This is so weird,” Milo said, adding she left shortly after reading the last page of her book. An executive producer briefly popped out of the recording booth shortly after Candi Milo’s bedtime story to tell her it was an excellent read. “Do people tell you that you look like Steven Spielberg?” Milo remembers asking the producer for a laugh before he simply said “yes” and closed the door.

Spielberg, who was on the other side of the recording booth, would later cast Milo to voice Sweetie Pie for Tiny Toon Adventures across its run from 1990 to 1991. Sweetie Pie would be Candi Milo’s first breakout role across a 30-year career. She would gain almost more than 200 credits in roles for syndicated Saturday morning cartoons, anime, video games and CGI films.

@candimilo

Welcome to Therapy Hour with Cheese & Dexter ❤️ #cartoons #voiceover #author #booktok #dexter #cheese

♬ original sound – Candi Milo

Milo would become a familiar voice for viewers as the lead character in Dexter’s Laboratory (from Season 3 onward), Madame Foster and Cheese in Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends and the English dub for Astro Boy in its 2003 remake. Milo is currently the voice of Granny across Warner Bros.’ long-running Looney Tunes properties across various shorts, web shows and most recently Space Jam: A New Legacy.

Candi Milo also has a home in gaming with various pedestrian voices in Saints Row, Leviathan in Final Fantasy XV, Shantotto in World of Final Fantasy and more. Milo also voiced Cherry/Brandywine in The Cuphead Show! which is currently nominated for Best Adaptation for The Game Awards.

CGMagazine caught up with Candi Milo, who, as Granny, Dexter and other syndicated cartoon voices in a single Zoom call, shared more about taking on the iconic Looney Tunes role after June Foray in 2017 and stoking childhood flames with familiar characters from Saturday morning’s past through TikTok.

CGMagazine: It’s one thing to see some of the most iconic characters keep their voices and image, but how did you evolve or change as Candi Milo?

Candi Milo: I had an adage. A saying from my mom when I was very little. She used to say that your life is a canoe. Get in the canoe and float, flow with the current. In other words, don’t fight inevitability. Go with wherever life takes you, and your oars that other people use to row against. She said, just use your oars to push you away from the rocks. And so I’ve always used my ability in rational thinking and choices that I’ve made to steer away from drama and painful situations and I have kind of floated along.

I like to say that if I had stuck with anything, I was a singer who sang in theme parks, I wrote for cartoon shows, I did stand up, I did nightclub acts. And when I finally hit upon voice over, which I’ve been doing for 30 plus years, it feels like my canoe hit the sand. I have come to what I really love to do, and something that I think I’m finally pretty good at, because I have a lot of practice doing it. I think that’s been my philosophy in life, just kind of be chill, and go where life takes you and keep yourself whole and centred by pushing yourself away from the rocks.

CGMagazine: What was the exact moment in your life that you found your voice for acting?

Candi Milo: I was really little, my dad was a performer. If he were alive, I had a much older father, he would be 105. And one of the last times that he was performing, it was in San Francisco, California. He was on stage, and I was three or four years old. I walked up on stage and joined him and was like asking where my microphone was, and I wanted to perform. I think that’s when I first realized—and my family first realized—that this is what I wanted to do. But my first job was singing at Marriott’s Great America, which was a big theme park in Northern California and that was a lot of fun. Then voice over, it was very interesting.

Voice over was so specific. I had gotten a callback for Steven Spielberg’s Tiny Toon Adventures, and I got that callback from my very first audition. So I had a very big agency had noticed me singing and doing stand up and of course, me singing thinking I’m getting a record deal. No, the agents wanted to represent me for voice acting. And I thought I don’t want to do this. And I met with the agent, and they put me in this closet because in the 80s it was reel to reel tape. So they put me in this large closet with this gigantic microphone and I auditioned for three things; Dentine gum, Perkins restaurants and Tiny Toon Adventures. Tiny Toons, I got everything, but Tiny Toons was a series of callbacks.

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Candi Milo as Sweetie Pie in Tiny Toon Adventures (1990) – Warner Bros.

My life changed with the final callback, where I didn’t realize that Steven Spielberg was in the booth listening, and I auditioned. The casting person said to bring a book and read a children’s fairy tale. So I brought this—almost like a wooden book—a really thick page book of The Three Little Pigs. I did all the voices and then I kind of laughed, and I thought, “I don’t know if I really want to do this. This is so weird.” It was strange to me and as I was leaving, Steven Spielberg put his head out and said, “You’re very good in there. You should be doing just this. That was absolutely excellent.” And of course, being the daughter of a comic, I said, “Do people tell you that you look like Steven Spielberg?” And he went, “Yes,” and then closed the door and I thought, “well, you have been dismissed Miss Milo, you have blown that.”

I ended up doing Tiny Toon Adventures and I actually had gotten a couple of roles on it, which was bizarre. But it was my first show and through politics or whatever, I ended up doing Sweetie Pie, the little pink bird, and it was fantastic. We sang, we acted, we did comedy, we did stupid voices. It was all of us in one room. It was the most fun I had ever had in my life and I have never stopped. It’s kind of solidified that this is what I do now and this is who I am now. I branch out and I do television, and I’ve done a ton of commercials. But who I am at heart is a cartoon geek.

CGMagazine: When you take on a new role, what are some of the boxes that you have to check for yourself before signing on?

Candi Milo: Let’s take, for example, the role of Granny in Space Jam 2. There is an actress who was beloved, June Foray, who had done that for decades, she was uncredited as an actress in many of the cartoons that Mel Blanc did. The only one who was credited was Mel Blanc. And it never was every character he did because it was always him. It just said voice characterizations by Mel Blanc. And there was nothing for June Foray.

So I was talking to Eric Bauza, who is kind of a next level genius friend of mine who’s now doing all the Looney Tunes characters in everything. I believe he’s from Toronto, and just this brilliant young man. I believe he said that the first time that June was credited—that Granny was credited—was me. That I was the first actress to ever be credited.

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Candi Milo as Granny in Space Jam: A New Legacy (2021) – Warner Bros.

So when you take on a voice that has been done to perfection over decades, you have to kind of go back and forth with how do I bring Granny, this beloved voice, into the 21st century. Into a cartoon where there’s a cell phone or there’s modernism, and she’s a 1940s character. How do you do that? I don’t think for me that it was changing the voice or changing the character. It was changing her edge, like making her a little sassy.

She has a martini, you know, she’s more of a well-rounded grown up Granny rather than just a sweet little old lady. It wasn’t easy. Believe me, it isn’t easy. She also did a bunch of other voices on Witch Hazel, Petunia Pig, all these other voices that Warner Bros. has allowed me to do some of these. So my core voice is now Granny and my core voice is now Witch Hazel in all of this, but I still hold true to June Foray because it was beloved, so it’s tough.

CGMagazine: Well, bits of my childhood just came up having to grow up through the shows. In Canada, a lot of other shows from WB were syndicated on Saturday. So we never really got the direct stuff, and it came in short bursts. From voice acting across different mediums like TV, web shows, and video games, what’s been the most interesting for you so far?

Candi Milo: I think with the advent of CGI, and then being able to stream on platforms. One of the first fabulous CGI shows that I did, actually with Eric Bauza was Puss in Boots, and how quick the turnaround was. Sometimes there will be fans that will say, “do you remember this episode that you did, that was my favourite,” and I think you just saw that. But I voiced that a year and a half ago! Then they’ve spent a year and a half, drawing it, sweetening it, putting a background, putting sound effects in, and I don’t remember the plot of that at all.

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Candi Milo as Kid Pickles, pictured left, in The Adventures of Puss in Boots (2015) – Netflix

I don’t remember what I had for dinner last night. But with CGI, especially, we finished recording and then months later, the wrap party (happened). Because it was all CGI, and Puss in Boots was absolutely beautiful. I think that was a Netflix show. It was tremendous. It was so beautifully rendered. The very first show I did like that was Mucha Lucha where it was flash animation, and we were seeing episodes weeks later.

That was the most exciting for me, because we could then correct so quickly, any dialogue they didn’t like. You would just do the dialogue to the lip flaps, like an anime, which was really fun to do. So that was great. Then speaking of that, I was the voice of Astro Boy (2003-2004). We’ve started recording. That was thrilling because I recorded simultaneously with a woman in Japan, that she had a script in Japanese that matched the lip flaps, like you do in anime. And my script in English, matched the lip flaps, and we were recording at the exact same time.

Usually in anime there is a Japanese track. Then you hear the beats of this person talking, and then you match that same beat pattern, watching the lips, but with English words. But there was a freedom in Astro Boy. And it was absolutely gorgeous. Sony did an amazing job. The scripts were very earth positive, it was just a little heavier than the actual comic book. That was an amazing adventure and I loved recording that show. I think that this is the first time I’m ever telling anybody the story of about how we recorded Astro Boy. It was amazing.

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Candi Milo as the English dub of Astro Boy in Astro Boy (2003) – Sony

CGMagazine: And as someone who’s voiced a lot of different roles, has the streaming world made your life a lot easier?

Candi Milo: It has. It actually has.

There was a positive in it for me in these very dark times. My daughter had moved to New York. So I was here by myself. And it was kind of traumatic, and we didn’t know what was going down, and I locked down because I couldn’t get a lung infection. If I were to get ill like that prior to the vaccines, I would be sunk, and I would quite possibly be dead.

But there was a rallying with the old guard, those of us who created in home studios, and mine is just in a closet, I don’t have a whisper booth, I don’t have a very big deal. I just have a really good mic and a really good computer and a great and an Apogee Duet. That’s all I can say. And I recorded. I think that the streaming was coming along, and I worked steadily which was really great for me not going crazy.

That constant work and to see scripts that were evolving and to see the streaming platforms HBO Max, Paramount Plus putting out product during this time specifically on streaming, specifically to entertain people who are stuck at home. I really liked it because you had a lot of eyeballs on television. You really did. You had kids to entertain that were not in school. I think the products were quite fantastic. I have just done a show that’s being released, called Oddballs. I did a role in The Loud House Movie.

I did all of Space Jam 2 from a closet in my house. I think that streaming and the services were a very important interim step into bringing us out of a global trauma. That we were still able to make content and because we didn’t have to be together on a set in masks, we could do it from home. Animation was seamless. We just kept going. Animation just kept going. It was kind of neat.

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When Jeff Tried to Save the World

CGMagazine: I have to ask, of all the times that you’ve been in voice booths for more than 30 years, when’s the last time you ever saw a movie set?

Candi Milo: Oh my god. Oh my gosh.

So I did a film in 2018 called When Jeff Tried to Save the World with Jon Heder. It was a small independent film that was really amazing. He was the title character, and he is a brilliant actor. We had a great time and I played a bowling alley owner (Sheila). That is the last time I have been on a movie set (2017 & 2018).

I haven’t been on a sound stage on a movie lot, other than to see a movie I’ve done (laughs). I’ve done a voice-in probably since 2016. That’s crazy. That is just crazy. I do commercials. I’ve done two or three commercials since lockdown. But I haven’t been on a television show. I have a small upright piano. On there is something from when I did an episode of Girl Meets World. I think it says 2015, which is the last time I’ve been on a TV set. So it’s just me and my closet, right.

CGMagazine: Did you ever feel like you were out of your element, stepping out of that booth?

Candi Milo: Absolutely. Absolutely. I forget where I was. I think I did a Wienerschnitzel commercial, and they were mic-ing me up, and I kept saying to the mic guy, who knew what he was doing. “You have to be careful because my voice is really bright and it pings.” He just looked at me like “thank you for sharing, that has nothing to do with anything.”

I mean, he just looked at me like I was insane. And I thought “oh my god. It’s all about my face and these hot dogs and all I’m worried about is telling the sound guy my voice is really brassy and bright and pingy. You’re going to want to have it a little bit lower” and I thought “you are just on the wrong set. You are in the wrong. You just have to go back in your closet and shut the door, just go back inside.” But I did start in television and film and that’s what I wanted to continue doing. Then my canoe had other ideas.

CGMagazine: Where do you draw the line between engaging and exaggerating with your voice?

Candi Milo: First of all, I try to take very, very good care of my voice. I vocalize every single day. Whenever I get an audition—and I mean every single audition—I google the creator and see what their tone is, and what their vibe is. How fast is their art director? What’s the comedy like? Is it broad, because my voice can be very “Saturday morning.” I’m old-fashioned; that’s why I love Looney Tunes. It’s what I grew up on, I understand that humour. It’s very 1940s slapstick, it’s like the Three Stooges. It’s very in your face. Video games like Final Fantasy (as the English voice of Shantotto, Dona Lucil, Pacce and Leviathan) are very different.

Primetime animation shows are different. So I think I make my judgments based on who is animating and who is art directing to see how fast and funny it’s going to be. Then I adjust my auditions to that. I rarely scream, and I will use the gain on my Apogee Duet and create and move into the mic to create more presence. So that’s how I judge it. Whoever is animating, whoever’s writing, if I know they’re writing from television, and now they’re trying to get into animation, it sends up signals on where my choices lie, what am I going to do with this piece?

CGMagazine: From all the characters that you’ve been attached to over the years, who would you put up the most as a roommate and why?

Candi Milo: Oh my god, I would love to be a roommate with Cheese from Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends, because I love that character. So much. And you know, we did seven years of that show. He only appeared four or five times. He is a fan favourite because he’s just so wrong on so many levels. I would have him as a roommate because he would be like always trying to cuddle with his giant head and the way that Lauren Faust and Craig drew him with his little hands. He always had his hands around somebody’s shoulder, and he was always massaging their shoulder. He would be a great roommate.

Second, I would say The Flea from Mucha Lucha because he would make me laugh all day long because there’s something also very wrong with him. So you know that I’m saying that there’s something very wrong with these characters, because there’s something very wrong with me.

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Candi Milo as Cheese, pictured left, in Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends (2004) – Cartoon Network (CN)

CGMagazine: How tempting is it to use your voices outside the studio or booth? I mean, are there any bad habits that you got from repetition?

Candi Milo: Here’s the worst thing that has ever happened to me on the planet: TikTok. It’s the worst thing because I make videos, and I do my character voices. And then sometimes we’ll reply to people. My daughter helps me make these videos, shields the camera, so it’s funnier. I spend all day long on Tikboy,Tok making videos of my characters. But when my daughter was really little, if I didn’t want to speak to somebody on the phone like spam calls. I would answer as a little boy

“My mom is not home.”
“Do you know when she’s gonna be back?”
“No, I’m home alone. Did you want to call the cops and help me out please?”

And it would be like, *click*

I would do that all the time. I had a phone at home that would show the number and if it had like “876” and I didn’t know who it was, I would answer and say (child voice) “Hello?” and they would say (robotic voice) “yes, we are calling for Candi Milo because your warranty is out,” and I’d say (child voice) “I don’t know what a warranty is. But maybe you should bring it in and if it’s out,” and they would be like “Oh, okay bye,” and *click*.

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Candi Milo as Dexter in Dexter’s Laboratory (1996) – Cartoon Network (CN)

CGMagazine: Yeah, I guess there are a few times when Candi Milo would use her powers for good. Hopefully.

Candi Milo: I would. Every once in a while, if my daughter and I were out, nobody knows who I am. I don’t sound like any of my characters. I just sound like me. I become my characters. I rarely use my regular voice. If we’d be out at dinner, if I wanted to blow some kid’s mind, I would—on the way out—thank the server and go (Dexter voice) “The meal was spectacular! Thank you very much.”

You would see kids going “where’s Dexter? Where is Dexter? That is so weird. Where is Dexter?!” and I think it’s certainly not the older woman walking out the door.

You just missed me. I just ran out.

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