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Teen Movie Critic

Ashley Johnson

September 1, 1997

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Who doesn't have fond memories of recess at their old schools?

Now, ABC is putting it all on your TV screen, with the new animated feature Recess - about, what else, recess. It premieres Saturday, September 6, within Disney's One Saturday Morning programming segment - between 8:30-10:30 a.m. (ET)

Fourteen-year old actor Ashley Johnson, the voice of "Gretchen" on Recess, explained how the show is recorded. "Sometimes we all sit in the same room together when recording, and sometimes we are in separate rooms. I think about my character and what her voice would sound like, and I try to talk like that - sort of a 'Chucky' voice on 'Rugrats'", Johnson explained. (Johnson's previous experience in voiceovers was as a little boy in another cartoon series called Jumanji.)

Johnson described Gretchen, "She's really nerdy with glasses, but she's also really brainy - a genius. "

In order to maintain a sense of realism, most of characters on Recess are voiced by actual kids- like Johnson. Does she think kids do a better job of sounding like kids than adults? Yes, and no. "Kids sound more like real kids on a cartoon, but adults have so much more experience in doing voices," Johnson explained.

According to Johnson, "Recess" does try to capture the realism of real life - on the playground, yet, there is the "Swinger" character - a girl who never stops swinging - and wants to fly away.

More believable characters include "the leader" that everyone follows, a "fighter", a "coward", a "jock", etc.

Johnson doesn't spend all her time in front of the mike - you've seen her in front of the television camera on Growing Pains as Chrissy Seaver, and as Kate Moloney on Moloney, as well as on several feature films. And most, recently, she finished a film called Dance to Texas (sort of a Stand by Me plot) to be released soon. So, she's definitely not spending her time behind the camera.

Johnson's life long ambition is to remain "in the business". Whether it's as an actor in front of the camera, or as an executive producer or executive director - she 's staying "in the business". And that's final.

In the meantime, she'll enjoy "recess" at her school, as well as Recess on television, and any spare time will be spent playing with her 2 birds, 3 cats, and 2 dogs.

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