Interview: ‘Toy Story 4’ Star Ally Maki Talks Giggle McDimples and the Importance of Representation
Toy Story 4 is right around the corner! Geeks of Color was lucky enough to attend a roundtable interview with Toy Story 4 star Ally Maki who voices the adorable and hilarious Giggle McDimples. Before she joined the cast of the new Disney•Pixar film, Maki was best known for her recurring roles in Marvel’s Cloak & Dagger airing on Freeform, TBS Lost parody Wrecked, and the ABC Family adaptation of 10 Things I Hate About You. During the roundtable interview Maki spoke about her role, what it was like to grow up with the franchise, and what it was like meeting Tom Hanks!
Q: Can you talk about how you’re feeling on the inside about animating a voice for Disney•Pixar?
MAKI: I still don’t know how to process it. People were like “how did you not talk about it for three years?” and I was like because honestly, I didn’t believe it was true. From day one, I just said this has got to be a prank, something’s gonna go wrong along the way because I mean, you know how these projects are. You never know. If you’re going to make it into the final edit of the film. I remember at the after after party I was able to talk to Bob Holly who is iconic. He’s been there from day one and he said over the last like six years, they’ve had so many different characters iterations, there were so many different storylines that got dropped along the way. So in that moment, I again just felt so incredibly lucky to even make it into the film and then to be such an incredible new character within that is mind-blowing. I can’t believe we’re here. This is bananas.
Q: Can you walk us through a typical day for you just like recordings?
MAKI: I remember the first session was so crazy because they sent like this fancy car and normally I’m just driving myself around the streets, you know, trying to make it there in one piece. And so I got this like a fancy car and then you roll up to the iconic Walt Disney Animation Studios and you see the dwarves holding up the building and you’re going into the recording studio where there’s so much history and where they did one two three . and four. Working with him (Josh Cooley) has just been like the dream of a lifetime. He is the most kind-hearted warm funny hilarious person and he played every single character for all three years just over and over he played every single character, from the smallest character to Buzz and Woody and he was just the greatest partner to have and so basically you’d go into the thingy and I wouldn’t know anything like they don’t send you anything beforehand. There’s no scripts and I didn’t know anything that was going on which I think is so wonderful because it really takes you back to the main reason why we love performing and using your imagination.
Q: Toy Story has been around for more than twenty years. Can you talk about your history with the franchise growing up, and what it was like to find out you were going to be a part of it?
MAKI: To be the tiniest character to exist in this universe is really awesome. And then to be the first ever Asian-American female within this universe is so incredible, to be a woman of color in this universe is so incredible, to be one of the newest characters in four is just mind blowing to me at every level. I was kind of the age group that directly aligned with one, two, three and now four. I think I was like nine when the first one came out and then high school and in college and now four is just me as an adult, so it’s really really special.
Q: Can you talk about Giggle’s and Bo-Peep’s friendship in this movie?
MAKI: I just think they’re so wonderful together and I love that they brought Bo as this like fully-fledged awesome incredible character. She’s got her staff now and she’s a hundred percent truly herself and she’s obviously really found herself like out on the road alone, without Buzz and Woody without the crew. She is like become her true authentic self. And I think the same for Giggle, she’s like a hundred percent authentically real and not afraid to be herself, and then together it’s like this ultimate superpower of Super Duo-ness, and the way that they have brought female friendship and you know female strength to the franchise. I think it means so much especially to young girls who are watching these characters and and saying, ‘Oh, I have a Bo’ or ‘Oh, I have a Giggle, and it means a lot. So, it’s really cool.
Q: When you eventually did meet Tom Hanks were you starstruck?
MAKI: The day that I met all of them was at our giant press day that we had only a couple of months ago, and I just remember leaving and being like “What just happened like you just had a whole day with all legends” and I remember my hair and makeup team had to like remind me halfway through the day like, ‘Hey, Ally like, you know, you’re in the movie right? Like you can just kind of like be cool with that?’ And I’m like, yeah I can but like I can’t. How do you just be like, ‘Hey, dude, how you been?’ I felt like I had won a contest like a win a day in the life of being in the Toy Story family and then just being like, “Oh, yeah, I guess I am in this movie.”
Q: We talked a lot about representation and I was just wondering do you feel like the doors are finally being open?
MAKI: So, I think like as someone who’s an Asian-American female growing up and some in a world where we didn’t have that much strong representation in TV and film, and magazines. I think Toy Story for me resonated so much because these characters are without borders and barriers, you could see yourself in Rex – you could be RC. You could be Slinky Dog like you could be any of these things, and I think that’s why it resonated so much with me and I think why it resonates so much of a lot of people, you know?
MAKI: I feel like we are finally all at a place where we’re finding these different representations for everybody. Asian-Americans have had a momentous year and it’s been very exciting to watch, and that’s a lot of why I created Asian Girl Club because I knew there were all these girls all over the country that were the only ones in their whole school or the whole town, and felt like they didn’t have anyone to reach out to and I felt the need to create those lines to those girls, and say, ‘I totally understand how you feel and I resonate with your story just as much as you do with mine.’ And so I think we’re making amazing strides and the more different and varied, and complex and flawed characters we can represent the more it’s going to impact and shape culture. So I’m very excited that Giggle will be one of them. She inspires me.
Toy Story 4 hits theaters June 21. Check out our review here!