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Maitreyi Ramakrishnan Talks Bringing Zipp to Life in ‘My Little Pony: Make Your Mark’

Maitreyi Ramakrishnan voices Zipp in My Little Pony: Make Your Mark. The series builds on the television special, which debuted in the “Top 10” for Children’s programming on Netflix. New episodes are now streaming!

Magic has finally returned to Equestria thanks to Sunny Starscout and her new friends! The Pegasi can fly and the Unicorns can use levitation again… and the Earth Ponies have activated their own special magic for the very first time in history. It’s a whole new world! Which is exhilarating… but, well, also a little scary and strange. And now that Sunny is an Alicorn with powers, there’s a lot to figure out.

We discussed her favorite themes of the series, making her mark on the My Little Pony franchise, what projects she would like to see a reboot or revival of, the recording process for “Portrait Day,” and more! Keep reading for everything she shared.

Hasbro / Netflix

I really love the show and that you’re a part of it. I grew up with My Little Pony. What was your relationship with the beloved franchise before taking this role?
Yeah, so I also grew up with My Little Pony as a kid. I was just before the big boom of generation four with Twilight Sparkle, Rainbow Dash, Applejack, and all that, but I was also just before, so all my My Little Pony dolls are more like the 1980s My Little Pony from the original generation. So I had those dolls but I watched a different My Little Pony on TV, you know? So that was my relationship and I loved Rainbow Dash. I loved her so much.

I love that you got two different to mix together.
I feel like that’s a lot of my childhood now that I think about it because like, I loved a lot of — as much as I watched Pokémon: Indigo League on TV, with my cousin though, we would also watch Sailor Moon and that wasn’t on TV when I was watching TV in 2006. Sailor Moon wasn’t playing on TV, but I watched Sailor Moon with her but still see Pokémon: Indigo League, you know? So it was like, the best of both worlds kind of situation.

It’s amazing to see different generations enjoy different versions of the same thing. I’m curious for you, what is it like bringing this beautiful and magical world to a whole new generation and getting to be a part of it?
It’s so cool. It’s so cool because like, I don’t think that idea of hitting families and just all that multi-generational level, that really hasn’t hit me yet because My Little Pony was just something that I’ve always had in my life, so it’s like, why wouldn’t you? That’s gonna continue which is pretty crazy and it’s really cool that I get to play with a character that is new rather than a character that might have already existed and then I’m working off of the predetermined personality, you know? This is cool cause I can make this character more my own and I think that’s pretty wild.

You’re getting to make your mark on the franchise! Sorry, I had to do it.
That was good. That was good, you know what, I’m glad you took it because I didn’t see it and it was right there.

Hasbro / Netflix

I became a fan of yours with Never Have I Ever and that’s directed obviously towards young adults and teens, but now you’re also getting to do something directed towards kids. Has that been a factor at all in taking roles or deciding which projects to do, getting to hit different ages and really spreading your wings?
I’m gonna be so honest, no. It’s mainly — like, truly the strategy about projects that I take, it just needs to be something that I think is cool. If I believe in it, that means I want to be a part of it, meaning that my energy and my passion are going to shine through. If I don’t believe in it and I don’t actually like it, it’s gonna show on my face. I’m not gonna be willing or wanting to talk about it in interviews, or wanting to give it my all when I go to work and show up. So My Little Pony truly was just because My Little Pony was my childhood and I loved it, and the idea of having your own pony is pretty cool. It’s pretty legendary. So yeah, I’m gonna be so honest, it’s truly just projects that I want to be a part of, because I think they’re cool and I actually believe in them.

There are so many great messages in this show as well and I’m such a fan of that. Was there a favorite message you had when it came to either your character or just the show overall?
Oh, that’s good. Overall, I will say that I like the importance about friendship and just this idea of togetherness. I think that’s really nice and I really like showing that to younger generations, because that’s very important. For the whole main group of characters, like the main five ponies, what I like to see is that they’re all very unique and different, and have their own whole different personalities. They’re all very different on purpose so that kids can find some personality that they resonate with. For Zipp in particular, what I like is, of course, that she’s super brilliant. She’s very smart and intelligent. She can be a little, you know, cocky about that, but she’s confident in her brain and I think that’s very awesome. Also, her look, we haven’t really seen a pony that looks like Zipp as a main pony before and I think that’s really awesome because I love seeing kids just express themselves through style, or however that style may be. For me, when I was growing up, I loved hats, I had a huge thing about hats. It was insane. I had a whole hat collection and that’s how I decided to express myself as a kid, and I think that’s really cool to just show all these different styles because it just encourages kids to do that. Figure out what they like, get those cringy photos, and cringe about them later cause that’s what life’s about.

I feel like for hats especially, you put on a different hat, you could be a whole different person.
Homie, I had like a whole — not a fedora, I had multiple fedoras, like multiple and I wore them as a fashion statement. I had a glitter fedora, I had like a sequined bourree. I don’t know who I thought I was, like Jason Mraz, what am I doing? What am I doing? I had so many snapbacks, I had a snapback that — you could get them customized, right? I had a snapback that said my name on it, like what? Right at the front, 3D-raised embroidery in graffiti font: “Maitreyi.”

Hasbro / Netflix

Honestly, I mean, I say this about my fashion choices in general, even now, my logic is like, I want to wear stuff that in the moment I think is really cool. I’m not thinking about like, “Oh my god, later when I look back at this, am I gonna cringe?” Because I want to cringe but then I can at least look at the photo and be like, “I liked it then and that kid is happy.” I’ll cringe now but like, it’s fine. I know then, wearing that snapback, that was my birthday gift. That’s what I wanted for my birthday and I got it.

So you also sang on the My Little Pony soundtrack. Tell me about doing that.
Oh my God, it was so freaking cool. I mean, I love singing so I was comfortable with singing but it was my first time like, at a recording studio for singing. I very much so go to a recording studio and I associate it with acting and voice acting, you know? But it was the first time I was singing and we were actually mixing a song together, building harmonies on top of harmonies, doubling my voice, and shout out to the sound team that helps produce these songs: Aaron and Jesse, they’re great, lovely human beings, so supportive. It was just cool. It was really just like fun. There’s a whole song in one of the Tell Your Tale YouTube episodes where I’m rapping about partying. I’m like, “This is great. Who cares? I’m having so much fun.” That was cool. I do like my little duet with AJ’s character, Pipp. That was really nice.

That’s such a cool way to just go so much further with the project too.
Yeah, I will say though, those were like — I think “Portrait Day” was actually the first song that we recorded, that was the first one I recorded, and that was so long ago. So there’s so much to come is what I’ll say, so much to come and truly like better, just good stuff. So much good stuff coming.

Going off of that, I have to imagine that it’s one thing when you’re recording it and when you’re in the process, but what is it like when you actually get to listen to the final version of the song?
I was so nervous cause I don’t know, what if they autotune my voice like crazy and then I don’t like it, or I just hate hearing it? You have to take a moment to separate yourself a bit because when you’re doing vocals for a character, especially an animated character, it’s different. I’m not fully just singing, that’s not like Maitreyi’s natural singing voice, it’s Zipp singing. There’s that like little tweak to my voice that still tries to stay true to the Zipp rasp and all that. But after I heard it I was like, “No, you just got to trust the people and the creatives around you because everyone wants to just put out a nice product.” It was really nice. I was like, “huh.” My grandma wanted to listen to it and I was like, “Yeah, it’s only on Spotify right now.” She’s like, “No, no, I need to see it and hear it. I want to see the animation at the same time.” I’m like, “Okay, Ma. Alright, so you don’t want to listen to now?” I slowly put Spotify away, I’m like, “Okay, my bad. Don’t stream ‘Portrait Day,’ I guess.”

Hasbro / Netflix

She wanted a screener, she wanted the full effect.
She wants the full effect. She doesn’t want to just listen to the soundtrack. She wants to see the animation at the same time. I’m like, “Ma, you know, it’s not my face.” She’s like, “I know, I want to see the story at the same time.” I’m like, “Okay, alright, Ma. Whatever you say.”

She’s a devoted fan! My grandma’s the same way with my interviews.
She wants the exclusive. She wants to release the exclusive and I love that for her. You work for her, you work for your grandma.

Don’t we all? We got the best grandmas. Next, I want to give you a fun question because we kind of talked about growing up with this franchise, and we’re in the age now of reboots, revivals, and all of that good stuff. It’s so fun but for you, is there anything from your childhood that you would like to bring back and be a part of for this new generation?
I actually know my answer for this. I love asking people this question like, if you could do a reboot or a remake of something — not from necessarily my childhood cause I didn’t watch it from my childhood, I have two answers here. This one isn’t from my childhood, but it’s more of my realistic answer something that I think really should happen would be a remake of 9 to 5. Yeah, I think that would honestly be so good now. I think having women of color in the main trio in that movie of a modern-day, you know, 2020, whatever, 9 to 5 would be really freaking good. That movie is just phenomenal, I love it. My other one would be — I don’t know if you know this show, this is from my childhood and this is a childhood thing, I was talking about this with my friend cause I recently just started watching it, but do you know a show called Total Drama Island? I want a live-action Total Drama Island but hear me out, it’s not supposed to be serious at all, it’s 100% satire that’s filmed in like, an Office-esque, docu-drama kinda style, you know? And it’s just 100% satire, like What We Do in the Shadows kinda vibe. Such a joke and I think that would be amazing.

So we’re pitching that here, I’m ready.
I think it would be just so cool. I mean, I’m Canadian, Total Drama Island is set in Canada, so like, “eh, love that.” But I think it’d just been so great. The animated characters were all so diverse in personality and just like, look. I think that’d be really fun, and if it was just a complete and utter joke, you get a cast of people that don’t take themselves seriously at all, tell me that wouldn’t be a hit show. Pitching it to Netflix right now, I’m gonna go.

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