In Teen Titans Go! & DC Super Hero Girls: Mayhem in the Multiverse, Lex Luthor wields an ancient Kryptonian power and unites the world's supervillains to capture the DC Universe's heroes. With only the fan-favourite DC Super Hero Girls left to stop the Legion of Doom, the team must cross dimensions to rescue their fellow superheroes from the Phantom Zone, but a fortuitous wrong turn leads them to Titans Tower...where they find much-needed allies in the iconic Teen Titans!
That's the premise of this awesome blockbuster event, and we can promise you'll have an absolute riot with this hilarious, action-packed crossover. Ahead of its Digital, Blu-ray, and DVD release on May 24, we spoke with Myrna Velasco (Star Wars: Resistance) to learn more about her role as the Jessica Cruz version of Green Lantern, a DC Comics role that's quite obviously extremely important to her.
In this in-depth conversation, we hear from Myrna about what it's meant to her to be able to make Jessica her own...without being able to explore the character's twisted comic book origin. The actor also shares some insights into the fun of these DC Super Hero Girls/Teen Titans Go! crossover events.
Finally, Myrna opens up on the importance of being able to portray this Green Lantern with an accent that's faithful to her Latin background and shares why doing so had a personal impact on her.
In this huge tapestry of the DC Universe, Jessica Cruz is a relatively new character, so what has it meant to you to put your own spin on Green Lantern and really explore her across 50+ episodes of the series and into this movie?
Honestly, it’s kind of like this amazing dream. You don’t get to originate characters very much as an actor. I often baulk at actors who are like, ‘Oh, I could never do voiceover because I want to feel like the character is mine.’ That’s a big saying in the acting world, and knowing that there have been a couple of actors who have embodied Jessica Cruz, including my dear friend Cristina Milizia and Diane Guerrero. It’s really very cool to have this character who was slightly different Lauren Faust creation and to explore a side of her you don’t normally see. If you’re at all familiar with her origin, it’s pretty dark [Laughs].
Lauren and Sam Riegel, who was our voice director in season one of DC Super Hero Girls, were very keen on making these real teenagers. It was a really wonderful experience for me personally to do research by reading the comics. To create a more innocent and wholesome version of someone who deals with anxiety was really interesting. How would a high schooler manifest anxiety in a positive way? Jessica’s origin is deeply anxious and there’s a lot of trauma around her life. This is a kid’s show for eight and up or even younger, so we don’t really want to be saying, ‘Loads of bad stuff happened! She lost her whole family and now she’s crippled with fear and anxiety!’ To have this person who understands the responsibility of having a Power Ring and doesn’t want it, I had to ask how I could express that in a teenager who has her own mindset and convictions.
Just being able to create that and give her this sense of caring for the planet was so beautiful. I’m such a huge hippie [Laughs], so when they said, ‘She’s an environmentalist and a bit of a hippie,’ I was here for it. I totally get her and how she is willful and the positive version of anxiety. She takes that energy, anxiousness, and excitement in the body and moves it towards a purpose. Every time we talked about Jessica, it was always that she would be purposeful and has willpower. What that means is she keeps trying.
What was really fun in season two was letting her all hang out. We switched vocal directors, so in that and the movie, and Gene Vassilaros comes from deep comedy and he’s in that sitcom mindset. ‘How do we find the funny?’ is something he would always say to me. It was just so great and so much fun to release this idea of her being purposeful, the one in charge, and the mine mom and to let her hang and experience the weirdness of being a teenager and loving your friends and accepting that they aren’t always going to do what you want them to do. Even just teaching them what’s important at the moment and kids needs to see people who are purposeful also be funny and silly. That’s part of life as well and part of willpower…to just be a weirdo [Laughs].
You’ve been part of a crossover with the Teen Titans Go! characters before, of course, but what did you enjoy most about this particular Multiversal experience?
Oh man, what a tricky question! We recorded this right at the start of the pandemic and I normally say that recording is my favourite part of any project because it’s collaborative and I was ever so lucky in the first two seasons to record with the entire cast. We didn’t get that this time [Laughs] so it definitely wasn’t my favourite part. Having to build a booth in my closet to do that was so stressful and so scary. I kept thinking to myself, ‘Am I going to get fired? Are they going to recast me because I’m not an engineer now?’ That was really intense. I honestly forgot we recorded this. There has been so much going on in the world during the two years it took to assemble this movie. I didn’t remember it [Laughs] and it happened so fast because I was doing it by myself. Gene was making the calls when it came to how it would all work together, so I had no idea how this movie would turn out.
In all honesty, my favourite part was getting it a week ago, sitting down on my couch, and watching it and seeing it come together. Normally, I’m really content with the process. I love building these and letting it be what it is and letting the movie speak for itself. I don’t honestly watch a lot of my work because in order to not get hurt or finish insecure; the finished product isn’t my business. I want the audience to enjoy it and I’m the kind of actor who can’t get caught up in the critique of the finished product. Being able to sit down and actually appreciate the final product and the little things that I normally wouldn’t have noticed like the change in art between the two universes is really important for the audience to recognise we’re in different worlds. Just seeing that difference brought the script to life in a way I couldn’t remember or conceptualise because I hadn’t watched any of it until now.
To be able to sit down and enjoy an animated movie in the way I did before I was an actor was a wonderful callback for myself of ‘Oh yeah, this is why I do this. This is why I became an actor.’ We all have this beautiful story at the end. It’s fun and interesting and it’s more than just me voicing a character. It’s this whole journey.
Jessica is one of only a few superheroes of Latin descent, so how has it felt to bring her to life in this DC Universe and to get to portray her with an accent rather than Americanise the character as we might have seen happen in the past?
It’s meant the world to me. I would always tell everybody in the recording sessions that this is my mom’s voice. Whenever people say they need a Latin affectation or accent, I tend to get a little surly. Being Mexican-American and growing up with the Spanish language, I know there are vastly different dialects between someone from Columbia and someone from El Paso, Texas. I’ll say, ‘Okay, you want Latin, but what kind of Latin?’ [Laughs] Having that appreciated by Sam, Lauren, and Gene, who is also Latin and got me when I said it had to be a specific accent for a specific character because Jessica is Mexican and Ecuadorian. Even between those two dialects, there’s a difference.
It was the nerdiest excitement I could ever have in developing her accent. It was also such a wonderful experience of home. To be able to say, ‘This is how my mom talks.’ I want other people who speak like that to recognise it and feel at home with these characters. When I listen to her, I do! I feel at home. There’s a little bit of all of us and it’s also vitally important because, as you can tell now, my voice is pretty Americanised [Laughs]. That’s because I grew up in a part of LA where all of my teachers were American and did not speak Spanish. Even the Spanish teachers I had were American! They were born and raised in America, so it always felt weird to me to speak Spanish at home and essentially code switch. Inevitably, when you’re speaking another language, you tend to carry in the syntax and vocal positioning of that language. That’s how we get accents. For me, it was always a conscious experience for me that, ‘Okay, I’m speaking English, so the way my voice sounds and how I pronounce the words has to be different than the way I speak Spanish.’ I always felt really weird that I had this English American voice and then my España Latin American voice as well! People were always weirded out about that because they didn’t think I’d know how to speak Spanish because I don’t have an accent while speaking English. That bummed me out because the assumption is you don’t know either language well.
To have Jessica speak English, go to an American-ish Metropolis High School, and still carry her accent was so liberating. It opened up the idea that, ‘You’re still smart! You’re still capable! You’re actually smarter because you know both languages!’ How willful, strong, and powerful to be able to say, ‘Yeah, I speak with an accent. So what? I also know English really well and carry this Latin American culture in the way I speak so you can always tell.’ It’s so liberating for me.
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Teen Titans Go! & DC Super Hero Girls: Mayhem in the Multiverse is available on Digital, Blu-ray & DVD on May 24. The movie event also premieres on Cartoon Network on May 28 and starts streaming on HBO Max beginning June 28!