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CINCINNATI - Ohio native Nancy Cartwright is best known for her role as the voice of Bart Simpson on the FOX animated hit, The Simpsons. Since 1987, she has given America an unforgettable and humorous character wrapped in the package of a sarcastic, 10-year-old boy.
In the spring of 2012, Cartwright returned to Ohio to deliver a commencement address at Ohio University and found herself the focus of a documentary film. When asked how she felt about the documentary Nancy responded, “I thought it was pretty cool! It isn't every day that someone wants to do a documentary on me!”
Nancy Cartwright: The Voice of Success is screening at the Cincinnati Film Festival/Cincinnati Comic Expo on Sept. 15 (1:30 pm at Duke Energy Convention Center). A virtual Q&A session with Nancy is scheduled after the screening to give audience members an opportunity to interact with the film’s star.
The Ohio University documentary showcases Cartwright's outgoing personality and her career highlights history, while allowing viewers to see Cartwright in an everyday setting, exploring the community of Athens and inspiring the Ohio University graduates of 2012.
Capturing Cartwright on film
Producer and director Andie Walla, assistant video producer for Ohio University’s Communications and Marketing department, jumped at the opportunity to direct a student crew to create a half-hour documentary around Cartwright's visit to Ohio.
While Walla anticipated the work that both she and the film crew had in store, she did not expect the lessons and encouragement given from Cartwright.
While Nancy Cartwright: The Voice of Success is Walla’s first major documentary film, the Anderson High School graduate is no novice to film making. Her passion for working behind the camera began when she was just a teenager making films as a community producer for Anderson Community Television.
“The film culture in Cincinnati definitely impacted me at a young age,” Walla said. “I was inspired by what was out there in terms of independent film, but did not have the opportunity to take a film class until I attended Ohio University.”
Walla added that living in Athens heightened her awareness of different opportunities for future film topics such as social justice, environmental issues, and community.
Cartwright, who attended Ohio University on a scholarship from 1976 to 1977, transferred to UCLA in 1978. There she majored in theater and pursued her dream of becoming a Hollywood success story.
Between 1980 and 1986, she was cast in Richie Rich, Twilight Zone: The Movie and other features. In 1987, she landed an audition that would change her career, and the way television entertained America, forever.
Initially, Cartwright went to The Simpsons audition with hopes of becoming the voice of Lisa, the Simpson family's genius. After the audition, producers felt Cartwright was the perfect match for Bart and signed her up for the job.
In January of 1990, following 35 short segment runs on The Tracey Ullman Show, FOX gave The Simpsons a half-hour time slot on prime time television, and the rest is broadcast history.
Cartwright said that although The Simpsons was not her starting point, it did establish her as one of the leading artists in the voice-over industry.
“For the past 32 years I have collaborated with the ‘best of the best’ in the industry,” she said. “I am fortunate to be able to use that power in creating more projects for myself and others.”
Among those projects are My Life as a Ten Year Old Boy, which turned into a one-woman show and later became the basis of her lectures. At the root of her success is Cartwright's desire for enjoyment. No matter what the job or the character has in store, she approaches it with a positive and fun-loving state of mind.
An inspiring subject
Walla said Cartwright's attitude made filming the documentary an easy and enjoyable project, but it was Cartwright's commencement speech that truly inspired her.
Cartwright instructed the graduates to “Do what you love, surround yourself with people who love you, hitch your wagon to a winner." She reminded them, "You are responsible for the condition you are in.”
The documentary also features highlights and interviews from people who knew Cartwright from the very beginning of her career, and even follows her to Dayton, where she is inducted into the Dayton area Broadcast Hall of Fame.
The making of "Nancy Cartwright: The Voice of Success"
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