Radio and TV personality, Unathi Msengana, has bagged her first animated voice-over work – for Disney Junior’s Doc McStuffins. Debashine Thangevelo caught up with the Idols SA judge to find out about her latest gig and it coincidentally following Gareth Cliff’s approach by Disney last year.
IT is hard to ignore the fact that Disney has approached two Idols SA judges to do voice-over work on their animations.
Last year, Gareth Cliff had a blast lending his voice to a Ducky Momo salesman on Disney XD’s Phineas and Ferb. This year, Unathi Msengana got the call to breathe life into Rita the Cheetah on the Disney Junior animation, Doc McStuffins.
On the development, Christine Service, senior vice-president, country manager, for The Walt Disney Company Africa, said: “It’s always exciting for us to be able to bring in a local voice to programmes such as Doc McStuffins. When looking for a voice, we scour the country to find the voice that best represents and fits the character. In the case of Rita the Cheetah, who is fun-loving and energetic, Unathi was a perfect candidate. She, being a mother, also understands and can convey the tone that the channel represents to kids and their parents. The fact that millions hear her voice every morning on the radio and see her on TV is a great additional bonus, which really helps in creating this special event on Disney Junior.”
And Msengana is pretty chuffed about the opening, too.
During our chat, she said she got the call in January or February.
She laughed: “I thought it was a prank call (at first).”
But she didn’t need to mull it over when she realised it was a bona fide offer.
“Who says ‘no’ to Disney?”
On her animated character, she joked: “I wish I had her eyelashes, I had to plop mine on. The episode is going to be broadcast all over Africa and it speaks to our diversity as South Africans.”
While the schedule was a bit of a juggling act for Msengana, as she was also busy with the Idols SA auditions for season 10, she managed to do recording in March.
As this was her first time taking a stab at voice-over, she shed light on the experience.
“There was a lot of action in the booth. You only have your voice to convey the emotions to the storyline. I am very animated when I speak. The pressure of under-standing that I could only relay that with my voice, that was a challenge.”
Thankfully, she had received the script a few weeks earlier so that she could familiarise herself with the lines.
With Cliff having already done the animated voice-over thing, the Tonight asked her if Randall Abrahams might be next in line. After all, it seems as if Disney is poaching the Idols SA judges.
After bursting out laughing, she responded: “I have no idea. I wonder what character they would give Randall? He would probably be the villain.”
With the episode airing on the morning of June 16, Msengana said: “Thankfully, we are not working. So we are having a family breakfast (at home) – some cereal, hot chocolate and coffee, and we are going to watch the show in our gowns.”
Of the opportunity, she said: “You know, when you do something you love and are given opportunities, you make it happen so you don’t disappoint.”
Given her bubbly – not to mention quirky – personality, I’m sure fans will be impressed with her purrfect transition to animation.
• Doc McStuffins, Disney Junior (channel 309), Monday, 8.20am.