Felicia Day has been an actor and a creator, appearing in shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Supernatural and launching the hit, award-winning web series The Guild. She’s also launched the geek culture YouTube channel Geek & Sundry and written a memoir, You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost). Earlier this year she became a mother.
Now Day is a dragon, and she can’t wait for everyone to see how adorable she looks.
“Well, I am the most adorable dragon you've ever seen in your life, so that's number one,” Day tells ComicBook.com of her Skylanders character. “Number two is it's a really amazing character with a lot of very fun layers and twists and turns in her character. But, you know, I think underneath, she just wants to be a great
Cynder makes a brief first appearance in the third episode of the new Skylanders Academy season, but Day promises Cynder takes on a much more significant role as the season continues, in particular with the show’s leading dragon, Spyro.
“She has a really great arc that continues all the way through the season, and I love the way she interacts with the other characters,” Day says. “With Spyro, there's a lot of...not history, but emotional connection that is uncovered through the whole series that I think people are going to love.
“I think she's one of those people who leads with a little bit more bluster than she has underneath. I don't want to spoil anything, but she does sort of have some people in her past that come into conflict and kind of put her in a hard position between becoming a part of the team and being loyal to her origins, in a sense. There's a really great push and pull between almost good and evil in a sense with her character that I think adds a lot of depth to the storytelling.”
While Day is known as an avid fan of video games – The Guild was inspired by her time playing the popular online RPG World of Warcraft – she admits that playing Cynder is her first real introduction to the world of Skylanders.
“I did get introduced to the world through Cynder,” she says. “I was, of course, familiar with it because I love video games, I love [Activision Blizzard]. But also, kind of on the outside, I thought it was more of a kids game, and now having been a part of the storytelling of the animated version of it, I want to go back and play the games. Not only just as a video game fan, but as a mom looking for something that would be awesome to share with my baby eventually when she's a little bit older.”
Skylanders launched the current toys-to-life gaming craze when it debuted in 2011. The genre has become increasingly crowded, but Skylanders has managed to outlive competitors from big studios like Disney Infinity. Day says she believes the lasting appeal comes down to the characters and their relationships.
“I honestly think it's always about characters and the way that the characters interact with each other,” Day explains. “I don't think it's necessarily one character. I think for people, they feel like, 'Oh, this character really represents my point of view in life,' but I think more importantly it's the family aspect and the team aspect of it. I think there are some great, wonderfully crafted characters who relate to each other in ways that a lot of people can associate with. And they just want to see those people hang out, you know? It's like friends. Whatever they do, you just want to see them do it together.
“It kind of goes with online celebrity as well. A lot of people love it when you have two or three people who are very famous who like each other in real life. That people follow them more because of those relationships than anything they do, in effect. I think the key to really making a strong fandom around anything is creating characters that feel like family.”
On Voice Acting
Day has had a string of voice acting jobs recently, including roles on My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic and Netflix’s new Stretch Armstrong series, and she says that’s part of a conscious attempt to get away from that online celebrity status and to reassert herself as an actress.
“I started taking voice over classes right after my book released about a year and a half ago because I was really determined to steer my career back into the direction of a performer versus personality,” Day told us. “I'd been away from acting for a little bit, and I was really just focused on, ‘Hey, I just want to go back and be a novice and train up and get my skills back to a level where I could work more in these areas.’ So I did take a bunch of voice over classes in a row, and then I got pregnant, and so when you're pregnant you don't quite work nearly as much on camera. So, I was so lucky to just start really drilling down into the voice-over world. Once people started knowing what my voice sounded like and the kind of characters I could play, I just started looking at other jobs.
“Really, it's just a blessing because I feel like an artist bringing these characters to life. The way people are responding to them, it's just such a delight. It really is. So, I'm really happy to do it, and Cynder is one of the biggest characters I've played yet, so hopefully, people will really enjoy seeing that journey in this whole season.”
Days notes that voice acting afforded her certain opportunities to stretch herself In ways that aren’t available in live-action.
“Well, the great part of it is that you're not confined to the way you look on the outside with voice acting,” she says. “So you can be an evil person. You can be a little dragon. You can be a pony. You really get to escape into the character. You do accents. You can do different ages. It's all really about your voice, and its ability to take on different kinds of humanity, or animality.
“So, I do love that flexibility. It kind of feels more like theater, improv, when you can just walk on and be a really old person, but nobody's ever going to hire you to do that on screen in a live acting job because you're confined to what you look like, and you're typecast about your looks. That's just kind of what the job is. I have a range of characters I play in live action but I get to play a much larger range in voice acting because there is that kind of freedom.”
The Guild, Dr. Horrible, and MST3K
In addition to returning to form as an actress, Day wants to make a return as a creator as well, and that’s a process she’s already begun.
“I was just writing on a show for eight weeks, and unfortunately something happened and it just got canceled,” Day says. “My next year I'm really trying to focus on getting at least one or two of the things that really are my passion projects as a creator off the ground. I have a couple of graphic novels. I'd like to do a podcast, and I have a couple TV projects that I'd love to get made. It's just a question of bandwidth and not being able to work on seven things at once. Only being able to do two or three. But I think it's actually good because it's forcing me to focus a little bit and really figure out, ‘What do you really want to see through and what do you really want to make time for?’ It sort of lets some of the whim projects that I used to have go by the wayside because I just don't have the time to focus on those. I can only focus on the things I really feel passionate about, and that I really need to have out in the world.”
One project that combined Day’s acting abilities with her ability to write and create was The Guild, the web series that ran for six seasons and concluded in 2013. While Day isn’t keen on reunion shows, there is a good possibility that she may return to The Guild in some form in the near future.
“You know, I really hate reunion shows because all I do is look at them and say, ‘Oh, they all look older,’” Day says. “Just me as a person, I get really irritated by them. I know that people might like them.
“It's our tenth anniversary this year, and we actually had some of the objects from our show be put in the Smithsonian as an example of new media, which is amazing. I also just had a hardback edition come out of all the comics that I ever wrote with The Guild, and then I wrote several new comics for it. And it's a beautiful compilation. Revisiting the characters in that way really made me think, ‘Hey, I'm ready to maybe go back to this world.’ So, whether it's another comic or some other iteration of it, it was maybe on the radar, but not a reunion show. I promise you that.”
While Day is deep into the world of voice acting now, she has several memorable live-action roles on her resume, including the role of Penny in Joss Whedon’s comedic superhero musical Doctor Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. Whedon had planned to create a sequel, and fans have been asking for more, but Day says that may be a tough sell at this point.
“You know, Dr. Horrible is one of those things that always comes up, but it's kind of hard because the creators behind that are now working on the biggest Marvel things in the world. Marvel and DC now, and all that stuff. So I don't know about that necessarily,” she says.
On the other hand, prospects are looking much brighter for another season of Netflix’s rebooted Mystery Science Theater 3000, where Day plays Kinga Forrester.
“I've heard very good things, hopefully, crossed fingers, about the Mystery Science Theater getting another season,” she says. “We're still waiting, but Netflix is a real champion of the show and the last season, so I can only be hopeful that we'll be back in writing mode again soon.
“And I have another TV show that is unannounced as of now, but I'm working on that, too. So I definitely have a lot to juggle along with new motherhood, but the great thing is everything that I've done in the last year, including Cynder in Skylanders, is something I have really loved doing. And I think that is something I'm learning from motherhood. I don't just do jobs that are okay. I only do jobs that I feel very passionate about, and this is one of them.”
Balancing Career, Fandom, and Being a Mom
Motherhood has affected not only how Day works, but how she plays as well.
“I think the thing that's most curbed is my consumption level,” Day tells us. “I used to read three books a week and binge a couple of seasons of TV and play a couple of video games all the way through in a month, and stream every week, and do YouTube videos, and all that. I'm sad to say that I don't have the bandwidth to do the videos as much, although I really want to get back to them, and I certainly am consuming quite a lot less because I'm just tired all the time. The baby doesn't sleep very well, so there is basically two precious hours before bedtime. I'd be like, ‘Oh, I'm going to watch a TV show or read a book,’ and now it's like, ‘I'm just going to go to bed at 8:30.’
“They say the first year is the worst, and I'm hoping that as she gets a little bit older - she's almost eight months now – Toward the end of the year, I can start peeling back that consumption thing because I'm a fan as much as a performer of everything. I miss it!”
To any other creators or geeks adjusting to the parenting life, Day says to hand in there.
“I would say that it's probably going to be a short-term problem,” Day says in regard to balancing family-work-geek life. “You have a little bit of a bandwidth problem, but I would say that it is very good because you think that time's being taken away from you, but there's so much being added to your life. And I can't wait to share my love of so many things, like board games and certain books and TV shows when she's older. I can't wait for that time, to see it through her eyes as well. It's making me reevaluate my priorities, and so just because you can't work on the seven projects that you love doesn't mean that those seven projects were either going to get made or even going to be better for your lack of focus on one or two of them. So, I think my life has vastly improved having to distill down to a little more concentrated focus now.”
As a final note, Day wanted to encourage viewers of all ages to check out Skylanders Academy on Netflix.
“I just really hope that they tune in, either with their kids or by themselves,” she says. “I think Skylanders is one of those great animated shows that is good for adults to watch with kids or alone. It really has a depth of storytelling that I loved bringing to life, and I hope you tune in. I really love it.”
The second season of Skylanders Academy is streaming now on Netflix.