AJ Michalka Shares Her Experiences as an Actress & Musician
This past week AJ Michalka, voice of the fusion Stevonnie in Steven Universe, spoke as a guest at Beach City Con, answering questions from moderator Tara Lynne and fans alike.
Below is a full transcript of AJ Michalka’s panel:
Tara: AJ, how are you doing this morning?
AJ: Good! How are you? Hi, guys! Thank’s for having me. This is very cool because this is the first ever Steven Universe fan convention, based around the show, which is really exciting. I’m so happy to be here.
Tara: We are so excited to have you. We’re so excited for all you guys. We wouldn’t have been here without you, the people who backed the Kickstarter are literally the reason this is happening. AJ, as we all know, voices Stevonnie but is also a very prolific singer and actor otherwise. You were filming The Goldbergs yesterday or this week?
AJ: I have been filming The Goldbergs, yes, season 5. Yesterday, I was in the studio working on a new record with my sister. My sister and I have a new single out and we just released music for the first time in 10 years. Our EP is coming out really soon. We’re about to announce that day. We’re still working on a full record which we’ll release next year. I literally went from being in a studio to getting on a Red Eye and coming here. And for The Goldbergs, we’re filming season 5 now.
Tara: It’s airing right now. So, is it like you guys are filming the second half of the season?
AJ: We’re always usually like five episodes behind, or ahead I should say. So, we’re shooting… right now they like on episode seven or eight and they just aired three. So, we’re always a little ahead.
Tara: With you and your sister, are you still going by Aly & AJ or did you change your name?
AJ: We’re actually going by Aly & AJ again. We went through, kind of a period of time where we took such a long break with music that Aly and I thought maybe there’s a way to reinvent ourselves, does that mean changing our band name and figuring out who we are as adult artists? And we released a song under another name, this band 78violet, that Aly and I went by for a little bit.
And it was a really cool song and I love that part of our music career because I think it kind of ignited this new chapter in writing again but it really didn’t feel like us. We were kind of like ‘why aren’t we just going by our names?’ It’s who we are and we’ve been doing this for a really long time and that doesn’t mean that we should be ashamed of being musicians when we were really young. So, why not just stick with that name as that’s who we are?
So, we decided to go back to our roots and everyone has been really supportive of it. It just felt right and so, we’re back to Aly & AJ. Amazing progression of leaving that name and then coming back to it.
Tara: Holly, your friend here who’s assisting you, mentioned that you’ve been recently recording some Steven Universe episodes?
AJ: Yes, this is true.
Tara: And I know you can’t tell us big secrets or anything like that about it, but is there anything you can tell us?
AJ: You know, it’s one of those things, with Steven Universe, where we can barely give anything away and it drives me insane. But I can tell you that there’s an episode coming up with Stevonnie that really hasn’t been done before, in the Steven Universe world. So, something is about to happen that has never happened before.
I know that’s extremely vague but at least it gives you kind of an idea of something that’s going to happen that’s extremely original and never been done…there’s going to be quite a bit of Stevonnie coming up in Season 5.
Tara: So, with the most recent recording, how is it like going in there? Recording is different from filming a live-action show. Do you guys hang out while you’re in there? Or if you’re in a room recording together and that’s it?
AJ: When you’re recording an episode there’s isn’t a ton of time for the in-between camaraderie that you get to have on set. When you’re shooting a live-action show of course, they’re setting up different shots and rehearsing camera angles. So, there’s time to sit back and hang out with the cast, and that’s what I’ve been able to do with The Goldbergs. And I’m really close to those guys.
The Steven Universe cast, I adore and we get to record together a lot of times. They’ll usually put five or six of us in a room and we’ll kind of be in a semi-circle and they’ll assign us each a mic. From there we’ll play off the scenes together like it’s a live-action show. But because the show moves so quickly and there’s no camera involved, there’s really no time for an in-between hang.
Unfortunately, with voiceover it’s so quick. You’re in and out. You record an episode in an hour and you’re done. And then you say goodbye and you may never see them again for weeks. With TV, it’s like you’re with each other every day. With Steven Universe, I don’t get to see those people all the time because our voiceover sessions aren’t always scheduled together. Sometimes I’m alone, which is fine. But I love it when we’re all together in a group.
When I first recorded my first episode Alone Together, that was really neat because I was with the whole cast and Estelle and I got to sing together in that room. So, it wasn’t like we came in at different moments and recorded our parts, we actually sang our duet as one entity, which is really neat.
Q: You’ve been a musician for a while. How was your experience doing music for Steven Universe and working with a music team different from your experience with Aly & AJ and other projects?
AJ: That’s a good question. I think for my own music it’s always been a really intimate experience because it’s always been written from the ground up by my sister and I. We’ll collaborate with some people now and then but a lot of the material comes from us. So, I love kind of having my finger on the pulse, creating.
When it comes to Steven Universe, it’s Rebecca’s creation, which I love. I’ve never enjoyed singing someone else’s songs so much. I’m so used to singing my own material. And I truly love her songwriting. I think her style and just the way she phrases certain things, and even her tone as a singer is really interesting and I love being able to voice her work. Because as an artist I don’t really get to do that, I’m constantly doing my own projects. I love it, it’s very different and I love the songs that she has written. So, I really love working with an incredible artist.
Q: Do you know if there are any new Stevonnie songs coming up?
AJ: There is actually a Stevonnie/Connie song coming up. I hope that was okay to give away and that’s all I can say…So, yeah, you’ll hear that song pretty soon.
Q: What’s it like having two people in you?
AJ: That’s a good question! I love it because one of my best friends is a male and I feel like if we merge together we’ll create something as incredible as Stevonnie. And I truly feel that the foundation of friendship is so important on this show, and that Steven and Connie merging together kind of says it all. I’m sure all of us have that one friend we’d love to fuse with. And it’s really neat. My voice is a bit androgynous in some ways so I think I don’t have to really alter the way I sound. I pretty much sound this way for Stevonnie as you guys know from hearing it.
So, I’m kind of just able to take what I hear from Zach and what I hear from Grace, who play Steven and Connie, and I take their laughs, their mannerisms, just kind of their intonation, and kind of make it my own thing. From there I try to combine the two as best as I can. Hopefully, I’ve done a good job of that.
It’s really been challenging as a voice actor, and it’s been my first job as a voice actor. So, it’s a kind of new challenge to play the merging of two people and two different sexes.
Q: Out of all the episodes of Stevonnie that have aired so far, which one has been your favorite to voice?
AJ: Probably, Beach City Drift. I love that episode. I think there’s just something about it, the empowerment of her racing that car. It’s like she finally gets her moment to shine and I feel that she’s able to just express herself in a really cool way in that episode. And there was just something about working with the cars and the noises of the tires and the screeching, seeing the animation before I was able to actually record it, just the animatic was really neat. Because I felt like I was able to feel the energy of being in a drag race. I don’t know what that’s like but I think the episode brought me into it in a really cool way, and I think that episode is one of the most visceral that Stevonnie is in because it’s so tangible. The vehicles feel real, the sound and the look of them.
Q: I’m kind of curious about the casting process of this, like “we’re searching for a voice actor who sounds like these two children”. So, how did that go?
AJ: That’s a really good question. It came about in a really random way. They actually couldn’t find [someone for] the role for a really long time and I think it was because of that, finding someone that can play Steven and Connie and figuring out a way to mesh it into one. I actually came in for the casting director because I started doing voice auditions because it was something I was really passionate about.
The casting director brought me in for something that was totally different and unrelated to Steven Universe. After the audition, she was like, ‘Hey! I really think the tone of your voice is right for something else I’m casting. I work on a show called Steven Universe and we’re really trying to find a voice for this character that’s a fusion between these two roles. I can’t really give you too much information but I would love for you to record a couple of lines and just see how it goes.’
And I did and they brought me back in for Rebecca and I ended up booking the job…So, it was really a cool process and kind of accidental.
Q: You said you have a real passion for voice acting…but you started out as a musician. Do you consider yourself more of a musician or more of an actress? And would you say that, now that you’ve discovered voice acting, that has kind of taken over? How do those two things tie together for you?
AJ: It’s interesting because they both bring so much joy. I get a gratification with both that’s really hard to explain. With music it’s instant. When I’m touring with my sister and playing a live show, it’s the instant gratification you get from the audience, there’s nothing like it.
Being on a film set or in a recording studio, you don’t get that, even though it’s fun, you’re working on something no one has seen or heard yet, that’s the exciting part. But you aren’t getting that life throughout that you get from performing.
So, I do consider myself both and I love both. Music is probably the first love because it does involve my sister and we’re so close. We’ve been writing music for so long. I feel like the creation of a song is probably the coolest thing I can contribute to the art space. But with regards to voice acting, I love it. I think for me, I love mics. It sounds silly but ever since I was little I loved pretending things were mics.
Q: I understand. I started singing at five.
AJ: Yeah! Even the way you’re holding it or wrapping the cord around a certain way. No, it’s true. It’s interesting. So, for me, I love it. And I think, being that I’m so comfortable singing has brought me to a very comfortable place while voice acting. I’m so used to the dynamics of a mic. Whether you get really close or intimate or you get very far way.
For me, I think the two have blended together in a really cool way. And I’m actually working on a new cartoon, my second cartoon that I’ve ever done. And I’m able to go in and I’m able to work on a really cool character, that’s totally different from Stevonnie. It’s a show that hasn’t been announced yet but it’s a really neat role for me because I’m actually able to be really aggressive and in your face. I feel like Stevonnie is really sweet and super confident. So, they [talking about new character] have their similarities but they’re also both different and I’m really able to play with the mic in that way.
Q: You were filming for Mindful Education, and in “Here Comes a Thought” it sounded like you had a lot of emotion. Did [you connect with that song] in any way, personally?
AJ: I think so, yeah. I think the whole thing of Connie feeling like she make a mistake or bullied someone in a situation and just felt horrible, I understand that. For me it’s like, you can come across a certain way and not mean for it to be that way but someone took it negative and you’re like I want to fix this, I want to erase it. I just like that song. It’s an interesting statement and a great lesson about [being] mindful about how you treat people.
For me, I feel that song in a way felt like a song I had written because when I was singing it I truly felt an emotional connection to it. And I think that’s what Rebecca brings to songwriting, that it’s really personal. Singing that song with Estelle was really cool and already coming from an episode like ‘Alone Together’ where it was the first time we saw Stevonnie and then doing something like ‘Mindful Education’ where I’m able to sing…I didn’t even know my character was going to sing. So, it was a really neat introduction to Stevonnie singing.
Q: What’s your favorite line in Steven Universe to say?
AJ: That’s so hard! The one that comes to mind is probably the first time I discover what I just did with Steven and Connie. So, it’ll probably be Alone Together where she’s washed up on the beach and she’s looking at her feet for the first time and her eyes are blinking and she’s becoming this form she didn’t even know she can even take on.
So, for me it’s ‘I’m a fusion!’ That to me is my favorite because it’s just the best discovery.
Q: What’s your favorite episode that you’ve seen?
AJ: That’s really hard. Oh gosh. I love anything with Lars. I love Lars and Sadie’s relationship. And I think they’re an adorable duo. I think they can have their own spin-off and it’ll work. I also love Onion. So, probably ‘Onion Gang’ even though it’s super weird and bizarre. I think that episode is really cute and I think Onion is like the most original little character on television. Like just bizarre. What is he? We kind of know but we don’t. So, probably ‘Onion Gang’ if I have to choose just because I love him. I know one that’s coming up and is going to be my favorite but it hasn’t aired yet. And I can’t wait for you guys to watch it.
Q: What’s your favorite character and why?
AJ: That’s a good question. Honestly, I’ll have to say Pearl. I just love how motherly she is. She’s just kind and strong and powerful, and obviously a little naive to Earth. She definitely has a groundedness to her that I love but you can totally tell that she’s from another dimension. Her being with people that are from Earth, it’s like ‘that girl does not really fit in. This woman is just on another level.’
That’s what I love about her. There’s just something that’s kind and sweet and she kind of reminds me of my mom. She’s just caring and I think that character is really endearing.
Q: I have a question about when you first became Stevonnie. When you first got the role, how long did it take you to kind of adapt to it and figure out both characters you were playing, like listen to Connie’s character and Steven’s character and mesh it together to be Steven and Connie.
AJ: It definitely took some time. The thing with voice work is that there’s no pre-production in the sense that you don’t really have rehearsal time to go in there and practice. So, I kind of just figured it out on my own once I got the first script. And I knew I was secure enough with what I had done in the audition that I was able to bring what I had into the room…For me, it was a matter of really listening to Zach and Grace.
That first episode that I recorded, I stood in between them and really listened to their laughter. To me, the laughter is really important and really specific, especially with Steven. So, to get his giggle and her giggle and kind of combine them into something that was my own thing but also a combination of the two was my main focus. So, I just took my time with the first episode and Rebecca let me play around, and Grace and Zach were super cool about it. And we just had fun and I eventually found my stride and just kind of continued with it.
Q: What’s been the most surprising or unexpected thing about being a voice actor and working on Steven Universe?
AJ: Well, it’s not really surprising because I know that it exists but the coolest thing is honestly seeing the cosplay. For me, I’d never been to a convention before Steven Universe and I think Cartoon Network opened up Comic-Con for me and things like this [Beach City Con] where I’m able to see people dress up like characters. I could never see that like being on The Goldbergs, there’s no convention space for that show. You wouldn’t dress up as anyone unless you just loved the 80s. For Steven Universe, you’re able to see how people interpret the characters and I love that. That’s been the coolest part of voicework, the cosplay.
Q: Which side of Stevonnie do you most relate to? Steven or Connie?
AJ: That’s really hard. Probably Steven. I just feel like with his excitement with life and his adventure-driven heart, I just feel like it’s more me than Connie is. I think they definitely are both a piece of me and I’m a piece of them at this point, especially playing Stevonnie. But I think Steven probably rings true the most to who I am. I can’t say that I was raised by three women but I can say that I was raised by a woman with a lot of love to give and I feel that’s what Steven has had which is amazing. I think his relationship with his dad is also something I can relate to. So, in a lot of ways I can say that Steven’s been the closest I can say I am.
Q: What’s your opinion on Rose Quartz?
AJ: I’m not sure if I can even answer that. It’s been hard for me because I know Steven had an issue with finding out what Rose Quartz had done in the past. I think that there’s a feeling of betrayal there, a little bit. So, the relationship with Rose Quartz, for me, is a bit wishy-washy because I really want to love Rose Quartz but I also know there’s pain there, between Steven and Rose.
Q: For me, everytime I see her I cry because I think that she didn’t kill Pink Diamond because her sword was not meant for shattering and so I was like ‘oh! This is not right.’
AJ: Also makes you sad because you feel she was falsely accused because you’re like ‘this was not meant to kill Pink Diamond.’
Q: How do you think Erica and Jeff [The Goldbergs] are going to go together?
AJ: Oh! Well, it’s working so far. I mean, they’re a couple. It’s kind like the Barry and Lainey but not quite as bizarre. I think our pairing was really unexpected but I love Jeff and Erica together. I think it’s a really sweet match. It’s going to get a little tricky with college and so it gets a little messy for sure. And Lainey is off to college, as you probably know. So, my relationship with Barry is really on the rocks. But Jeff and Erica are actually in a good place.
Q: Do you get the script when you get there and you have no idea what goes on or do you know before time?
AJ: I don’t know much in advance but I do know the week before so I’ll be able to read everything through. Whether it’s The Goldbergs, I’ll have the script a couple of weeks before because we’ll go in and do a table read, which is where the whole cast sits in front of the producers and Sony and ABC and we read the episode out loud. Which is kind of cool because it feels like voicework. You’re all on a table together, voicing your dialogue. So, I’ll have a couple of weeks for that before we start shooting.
But for Steven Universe it’s usually the week before if not a few days before. It’s usually like a huge scroll that I’ll get on my computer with all the animatics and I’ll see a little bit of dialogue below and then I’ll get the full script when I come in. I don’t have a lot of prep time with Steven Universe.
Tara: I imagine that they try to keep it at the downlow as much as possible. Just knowing what I know from the Comic-Con panels and everything, and also how it’s always a surprise when we find out we’ll be getting new episodes, I definitely feel like they kind of keep things under wraps. Very tightly. Honestly, more tightly more than other big spoilery shows that I watch.
Tara: Good for them that they’re able to do that.
AJ: They almost even do it with their cast.
Q: Does it ever come to a point where you read a line and say, ‘Would [Stevonnie] really be saying this?’, and does it create a discussion as a result?
AJ: That’s interesting. I don’t feel like I have come across something that truly didn’t feel like Stevonnie where I had to voice it to Rebecca. However, if that were to happen I’m at a place where I feel comfortable saying that, and she is so great to work with and really flexible. And not married to her work as much as it’s her and she’s dedicated to it. She really does let us play. So, I would feel comfortable but I’ve actually yet to find a line where I’m like ‘this doesn’t feel like her.’ I think Rebecca is so used to writing for these characters now that it’s like clockwork.
However, sometimes with some of the singing, I might talk to her about a way to interpret a certain line when I’m singing it. ‘Is it okay if I kind of give it this twist?’ Because when I hear her demo, she has such a different voice than me that sometimes I ask her if it’s okay if I give it my own little edge in some ways and she’s always really cool about that.
Q: I’m curious about if you’re familiar with the TV show Gravity Falls.
AJ: I’ve heard of it but I don’t know it.
Q: My question was going to be about potential fusions in a crossover.
AJ: Oh! I’m [useless with] that. Should I get into it?
Tara: The show is already over. It’s a Disney Channel show and it aired years ago.They aired one season and I think it was a couple of years before they aired the second season. It was a very odd airing schedule but it’s a nice short show…there is some weird stuff that goes on in the end, but one of the main characters, Mabel, I feel she’s very Steven-like.
AJ: Cool! Okay, that’s my next show. Gravity Falls.
Q: Do you think Steven and Connie is better as a friendship or as a romantic relationship?
AJ: Can they be both? I think so. I mean, the best romantic relationships stem from an amazing friendship. I feel like they have a potential to be something really special and long-term. However, I favor them as friends only because I know where they’ve both come from and what they’ve both been through and I think their bond, especially when they fuse into Stevonnie, is so special that I feel like only friends can really do that. So, I think to maximize the best parts of themselves, their friendship is probably the smartest way to go.
Q: Would Stevonnie be good at baseball?
AJ: I think so. Totally. I think she’s such an athlete.
Tara: I think she’s going to be good at pretty much anything she sets her mind to.
AJ: Anything. I don’t know why I particularly see her surfing. Like that needs to happen at some point. I can totally see it with her little beach shorts and the long hair. I can just see her on a longboard just killing it. But baseball? Yes!
Q: Stevonnie is supposed to be Rebecca Sugar’s coming of age and how you suddenly have to deal with this new responsibility, all these changes, and how people perceive you and how people treat you. Was it difficult with having to act with that part? And how has that provided you with any insight to you daily life?
AJ: Wow! It’s getting heavy. I like it. For me, it has because there’s something about the show that’s so inclusive, that’s what I love about it. And I feel like Rebecca has really started something that’s really beautiful on television [that] not a lot of people are voicing. And I feel like she has used her platform in a really cool way with these characters, like Stevonnie. For me, it’s like, I already felt like someone that loved everyone for who they were and cared deeply for people unconditionally no matter the background they came from or their sexual preference or what they’re into. And especially growing up with friends in the industry who’ve been through a lot and have experienced a lot, I just feel like there’s no reason to not be inclusive and I feel like that’s what this show brings.
It has kind of infiltrated my life always, it was like that before. So, I think Rebecca just reminds people to be caring and to love one another unconditionally. Which I think is the best message.
Q: So, as Steven won’t exactly age normally as a human would, and Connie will, what do you think will happen to their relationship?
AJ: It’s a really good question. It’s kind of like a Benjamin Button thing, right? Where it’s like one’s aging, one’s going forward, one’s going backward. I mean, obviously, Steven isn’t Benjamin Button but to me I remember looking at that relationship and that movie being heartbreaking because they couldn’t stay together because of their age difference. For me, it sounds weird but I think because they have such a strong bond and such an incredible friendship that the age gap won’t ever matter. I think that bond will transcend time and age no matter what happens when she gets older. It might even become more of a mom and son relationship in a way which I think will also be an interesting spin.
So, I don’t think anything is going to happen to their bond. It is interesting to think about and I kind of forget that it’s on the way, especially if the show continues…It’s kind of heartbreaking but I don’t think it’ll change their friendship.
Tara: I think he ages slowly. I don’t think he’s not going to age at all. And I think that’s still going to be something we’ll see being explored on the show.
Q: With you being a voice actress, an actress, and musician, how busy is your schedule?
AJ: It’s pretty busy. The voice acting is pretty in and out. It’s like I’m told a week before that ‘Hey! Can you do one day from 9 to 1 and come in and do two episodes with the cast?’ and it’s like ‘Oh yeah! I can do that’ and then I hop in.
So, voicework isn’t really crazy time consuming and it does fit into my schedule really well. However, making a record and being on a show is a different thing and it’s actually been a tricky lately because my sister went back to her show in Vancouver. She shoots a show called iZombie on The CW. And she’s on that, plus we’re trying to make a record in L.A. So, constantly flying between the two places to finish a record with me. Yesterday, we were literally in the studio writing because she had time to come home. So, we were trying to write a song and then I got on a plane.
So, it’s been a really…[tough schedule] but I love it and I don’t think I have to choose a career, which is great. I’m kind of able to do them all. And why choose when you don’t have to? So, you make it work and stay level headed and try not to stress out and go with the flow.
Q: I want to ask you about a theory. Since Lars is kind of like a pseudo-gem right now, being revived and everything, do you think he has potential to fuse with Steven? And if so, what powers do you think they would have versus Stevonnie’s?
AJ: I do think they have the potential to merge. Gosh, what their powers will be? I haven’t thought about it. I look at Steven’s fusion as Stevonnie but I do think there is an opportunity to fuse with Lars. I think the character will be a lot more shy than Stevonnie is, a little timid but they, I think, with the knowledge and tenacity that Lars could have, I think they would make a really good team. I think their power would come from really good brainstorming. And it might sound silly but I think they’ll make a good team as two guys together. I think it’ll be a really good episode. But powers? What do you think it could be?
Q: As Lars has the portal thing I think he’d be able to use the portal and use Steven’s shield as a ricochet.
AJ: I love that. That’s interesting.
Q: As a child actress, how was it like transitioning to an adult? Because a lot of people when they start as a child they kind of hit rock bottom when they transition into an adult.
AJ: It’s true. There are many cases where an actor or actress started really young and tried to grow up too fast or try to phase out of a kid career too quickly and then kind of combusted. And I think you need to be really smart about the decisions you make in your career and most importantly as a person. I had a really good team surrounding me when I was young and I feel like between my mom, and my dad, and my sister who I work with and who is also a close friend of mine, I was able to really stay level headed and feel like a lot of people who don’t have the same bond with their family is what spins them out of control.
I think it’s about who you surround yourself with. It think that’s key. But I feel like I was able to, I hope at least, to transition fully into an adult career, in the sense that working on a show like The Goldbergs and on the music with my sister has kind of catapulted my career to another level which is really neat. I feel like it happened very naturally instead of forcefully which can usually go wrong and that’s when I think it gets destructive.
Q: What are your favorite lessons that Steven Universe has taught you?
AJ: It’s such a precious show. I do love it. And there are so many lessons to be learned from every episode. But for me, I think it’s the power of feminism, which I already was behind before this show, it’s truly a really cool subject matter on this show, being that it’s three female leads that are like running the show along with Steven. It’s really powerful and I feel like morally, I think just the kindness that this show possesses is just incredible.
I think these people just love each other unconditionally and for me that’s been the biggest thing about the show that has inspired me. I mean, it sounds silly and I’ve said it a million times over and over again but it’s so inclusive. To me that’s the strongest part this show has to offer.
Q: Do you think you have any influence on the show?
AJ: Oh gosh! I hope so. Do you have something to give me that I need to infiltrate into an episode? I don’t know. I’m sure Rebecca has heard things that have been said between the actors and it might spark an idea for a line. Nothing I know of that actually informs, like, ‘Oh! That’s something I should add to an episode.’ I would love to have that kind of power. I don’t know if I do or I don’t. But I would definitely feel comfortable with Rebecca, telling her a song idea or perhaps a story line idea that she maybe kind of take a run with.
Q: Do you ever make up your own things for Stevonnie? Like something is happening in the show and you feel Stevonnie should do this?
AJ: I feel really comfortable with the character now so I kind of just… with every episode I get, I just kind of ease into the dialogue in a way that’s really natural. I don’t know if I do anything with her that’s out of the ordinary because I feel like I’m used to the set character that [Rebecca has] brought to the show. I don’t really need to adjust too much. But I do feel there are moments where there might be something I’m reading in a studio that’s wanting to be said in a quiet way and I’m like ‘I have to try this in a big way.’ And Rebecca would kind of give me that freedom to change a line. [Or] I’ll see an exclamation point and I’ll be like ‘I need to make this into something else. I want to make it more intimate.’ So, every now and then I’ll change the way I’ll say a line which I think can be interesting.
Q: I’m really a theater geek. Do you think there’s any chance Rebecca Sugar will write a musical and if so, would you consider playing Stevonnie?
AJ: Oh my gosh! I would love to. I know Rebecca has been asked. I’m not sure what her stance is on it. I feel like she’s open to it. I don’t even know when she’ll get the time to write a musical and it’ll just take so many years, just from the production point to make it happen. But I feel like a live production of this show will be incredible.
Q: Have you done theater yourself?
AJ: A little bit. Nothing serious. Never on Broadway, never even really off-Broadway. Like workshops and things like that. I’ve never really done any theater, now that I think about it, professionally. But I would and I would absolutely be on board with a Steven Universe live theater production. A musical would be amazing!
Tara: It would be so awesome. I wonder how they’d do the makeup though, the [body painting] and everything.
AJ: It’s so detailed.
Tara: You know in Wicked with Elphaba…they have to make her skin green and it takes hours for them to do that everyday. So, imagine if it was a whole show with painted characters.
AJ: That’s a good point. You might wear a skin suit that’s colored? I’m going to start thinking!
Q: Do you think that if Steven got poofed would be come back as Rose or another version of Steven?
AJ: For some reason my gut says he’d come back as Rose. I just feel like that makes more sense. Do you feel like he’d come back as another version of Steven?
Q: I think he’ll come back as another version of Rose or just Rose.
AJ: I can’t speak for [Rebecca] but I would say Rose. That’s just what my gut says.
Q: Does Stevonnie have the ability to fuse with other people? For example with Amethyst or Lars? What do you think their powers will be?
AJ: I’m not sure if she can fuse with someone else. It hasn’t happened yet but it can happen. I see Stevonnie as the fusion. I don’t see Stevonnie fusing into something else with Lars or Sadie or anyone else. For me, the power would be, I don’t know why, but the first thing I thought of was archery. I can see that happening. I just feel… some of these questions are ones I can’t answer because they aren’t… I feel like you guys know these answers better than I do. For me, Stevonnie’s fusion, personally ends there. She’s the entity of Steven and Connie and it ends these.
Tara: I feel like from a theoretical perspective it’ll be possible for them to fuse with somebody else but it’ll have to be another gem that Connie has a very very close relationship with.
AJ: That’s why I don’t really see it.
Tara: My first thought would be Pearl but I don’t even know if they’re even close enough in that respect to be able to fuse.
Q: Do you think Kevin will ever find out that Stevonnie is a fusion with Steven?
AJ: I think so. I think that’ll be a really cool reveal and I think that episode can take us into a whole other world. I think Kevin kind of needs to know. It hasn’t been done yet but it’s a possibility.
Q: What is your favorite song in Steven Universe?
AJ: I know it’s going to sound ridiculous but I have to say ‘Here Comes a Thought’. Not because I sang it. There’s something about that song that I love and I think the musical duet between someone like Garnet and Stevonnie is kind of an interesting duo that you wouldn’t necessarily naturally see. I think there’s just something about the melodic flow of that song that’s so beautiful. Every time Rebecca starts playing it in on the ukulele when we’re at a panel, I think it’s beautiful. I think that song is always going to be my favorite.
Q: My favorite line from Stevonnie is ‘All right, Stevonnie’s got floating powers!’ Do you feel excited to discover that Stevonnie has more little tricks like that?
AJ: It’s a reveal to me as well. Like wow! There’s something added that Stevonnie can do. I love that. I’m waiting for more of those moments. And you’re actually going to see a couple of those moments come to play this season.
Q: What’s it been like going from different channels, from Disney to Cartoon Network, ABC, etc?
AJ: They’re all great, massive empires. Disney channel, Cartoon Network, I’ve been really lucky working with great people and it has come full circle now that I’m working with Disney again. I love it. I’ve been treated very well personally and there are really great perks, like going to Disneyland with your friends whenever you want, which is really cool. And I love it. And I’ll never take advantage of it. It’ll always be exciting. I feel like I’ve been able to work with some really great companies and companies that believe in sending out a really great message. And also have an important platform and use that platform wisely, which I think is really great and responsible.
Did you attend Beach City Con? If so, did you get to enjoy AJ Michalka’s panel or meet her during the weekend? Let us know in the comments!
Author: Laura B
Lover of fantasy and science fiction, fascinated in how they impact the real world. Professional writer and science communicator.
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