A woman who grew up in Cooperstown and had her first acting experience at Oneonta’s Orpheus Theater is one of the stars of a new series on The Disney Channel.
Michaela Dietz, 38, is the voice of Darryl McGee, a character in “The Ghost and Molly McGee”, an animated series which premieres October 1. Darryl is the main character’s younger brother.
According to information provided by Disney, “’The Ghost and Molly McGee’ is an animated comedy that follows the optimist Molly, who lives to make the world a better place, and the cranky ghost Scratch, whose job it is to spread misery. one of Scratch’s curses backfires, he finds himself forever bonded to Molly, creating an unlikely friendship that leads to humorous misadventures as they navigate Molly’s new school and new town.
Dietz told the Daily Star in an interview on September 24 that her local roots remain important to her.
“To this day, I am a very proud resident of upstate New York,” she said.
Small town life stuck with her too.
A graduate of Cooperstown Central School, she said she had fond memories of the village.
“I loved being able to cycle to school,” she said. She told the story of an adult acquaintance warning her to stay on the crosswalk when she crossed the street and said, “Community members always look out for each other. Small towns are wonderful places.
She said her first stage experience was in an Orpheus production of “The Wizard of Oz” as a child in the late 1980s. She also starred in “The King and I”, “Annie” and “The Sound of Music “.
“I was a von Trapp,” she says. “I don’t know if I was the first Korean-American to play Gretel, but it happened.”
Dietz said those early experiences made him believe performing on stage might be in his future. “I always knew I wanted… to keep playing the acting role,” she said.
Despite this desire, she did not study theater when she left Cooperstown for Middlebury University in Vermont. Soon after, however, she moved to New York City to study with acting teachers. She got an agent and started getting voiceover jobs.
Her big hit came in 2006, when she was hired to be the voice of Riff, a dinosaur on the popular TV show “Barney and Friends”.
“I realized that voiceovers were something I wanted to dig deeper into,” she said. She moved to Los Angeles to continue this work.
Dietz spoke about his approach to voice acting.
“There are so many talented comedians with incredible ranges,” she said. “I’m not one of those people.”
That’s good, she says, because the current trend is for more realistic voices in cartoons. She said she went to auditions and adjusted the pitch of her voice up or down, only for a director to tell her to use her natural voice.
“They were like, ‘You look like a cartoon character already,’” she said.
Despite this experience, she said, she adjusted her voice to play Darryl McGee, using her nephews as role models for a young boy’s voice and manners.
Speaking of “The Ghost and Molly McGee,” Dietz said, “I’m so excited people are seeing it.”
She said Molly and Scratch’s relationship is reminiscent of “The Odd Couple,” with characters of opposite temperaments forced to live together.
She also noted that the family on the show is an ethnic mix of Irish and Thai.
“I always love when I can express characters of color and other Asian characters,” she said.
She called the show “so fun, funny and smart,” and said she thought parents would enjoy it as much as children.
Looking ahead, Dietz said she has “some really fun plans” to come, but said she couldn’t talk about them just yet.
Through it all, she said, she remembers where she grew up.
“I will not forget my roots in the upstate,” she said. “Oneonta, Cooperstown, these are just special places.”
“The Ghost and Molly McGee” will premiere at 9:35 p.m. on Friday October 1 on Disney Channel and the first five episodes will be available Wednesday October 6 on Disney +. The second episode will debut in the series’ regular timeslot starting at noon on Saturday, October 2, leading up to the season three premiere of “Amphibia”.
Robert Cairns is the editor of the Daily Star. Contact him at [email protected] or 607-441-7217.