Hey there! :D

I'm Francesca Marie Smith, voice of Helga G. Pataki on Nickelodeon's Hey Arnold!, and I'm thrilled to be back as part of the cast of Hey Arnold!: The Jungle Movie (premiering later this week—Friday night, the 24th, at 7 Eastern/Pacific on Nickelodeon).

Here's my proof post: https://imgur.com/a/XF8oU

Here's my IMDb page: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0808216/

Here's my Twitter: https://twitter.com/FrancescaMSmith

Here's my Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Francesca-Marie-Smith-208365150246/ (edited to, y'know, actually include my Facebook link)

Go ahead...ask me anything! :)

Edit: Okay, it's been a couple of hours, so I'm wrapping things up here at Nickelodeon. I'll try to pop back on from home and see if I can address any of the question about what I've been up to in my non-HA! life, and you can always get in touch on my Twitter or Facebook! Thank you so much for coming by, for asking questions, and for being part of the wonderful Hey Arnold! community. I'm so grateful. :)

Comments: 209 • Responses: 54  • Date: 

whales_R_us76 karma

Just have to say Hey Arnold was a very important show to me growing up, and Helga was one of my favorite (if not my favorite) female cartoon characters. It meant a lot seeing a girl who wasn’t all about charm or conventionally attractive, she was just hilarious, tough, and complicated. I️ still crack up at your dead pan delivery and forlorn girlish sighs, the show wouldn’t have been the same without you. I️’ve got two questions Geek-bait: 1. What’s your absolute favorite Helga G. Pataki quote? 2. Did you add any personal touches to the character that weren’t scripted?

francesca_smith63 karma

Ooo...these questions are always tough, not only because it was so long ago (and I have a terrible memory), but also because everything was kind of equally meaningful. :)

Here's an odd one: I still remember "orzo-shaped Prometheus"...mostly because those are two kind of hilariously obscure concepts for a nine-year-old to reference.

Personal touches...it's hard to pull out anything in particular, because from what I understand, Helga really did kind of grow up with me, so a lot of her personality really was tied up in who I was as a young person. There was even a time when the artists would come and sketch while we were recording to get ideas of what our facial expressions might look like, presumably to then influence how the characters would look.

Tenauri54 karma

Eh? Uh, that's nice, Olga.

...Okay, real talk, I want to say thanks both to you and to Craig Bartlett for the Pataki family being kind of genuinely screwed up in a way that I don't think you get to see in too many kids shows. I grew up with a mother that was struggling with alcoholism, and I also had a lot of general feelings of self-doubt and worthlessness, so it really meant a lot to see episodes focused on Helga where she had to deal with Miriam, and Bob, and Olga, and all the various anxieties that came with it. It felt very real and close to home. And your voice work was always really impressively emotive.

Okay, that's not really a question, so I guess I'll add: did you remember to take your constipation medicine?

francesca_smith24 karma

Thank you so much for the kind words, and for sharing your story. Hopefully things are in a good place for you now.

clip0351 karma

Do you know if Phillip Van Dyke or Spencer Klein were contacted at all to see if they wanted to come back for new roles in The Jungle Movie like Lane Toran was?

Also, out of the whole Hey Arnold series, what was your favorite scene to act out between Helga and Arnold, and why?

francesca_smith77 karma

I don't know, actually! I haven't been in touch with either of them in a bit.

Hmm...tough to pick a favorite, but I definitely have fond memories of the opera episode. It was super fun, and a really cool challenge to take on.

Zeether28 karma

In your previous AMA in 2011, you mentioned being a gamer...do you have any particular favorite games and genres of games?

francesca_smith56 karma

Hi Zeether!

I still dabble in WoW (especially with my mother :) ), and I'm pretty hooked on the Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes mobile game. I also play a location-based game called Resources now and then...and I was super into Ingress, which was especially cool since I eventually got to work with them. :D

HeyArnoldOpruth21 karma

Hey Francesca

Long-time fan who grew up on the series. The main thing I want to know is seeing how excited you are to come back to the role of Helga would you ever come back to her if the series were to continue after the movie? I think it would be really cool for a new generation of fans to be introduced to Arnold and his friends.

francesca_smith31 karma

I'd absolutely love to come back (particularly if Craig's involved, and/or others who can really capture the magic of the original show)! Helga's really rewarding, and downright fun, to play, but especially learning how much she's meant to fans throughout the years...if I were given the opportunity to continue doing so, how could I really pass that up?

Upgrader0119 karma

Have you ever cosplayed as Helga? Oh, and, how is the Jungle Movie? As you've probably already seen it, haha.

francesca_smith32 karma

Not really, although I have been wearing more pink lately in the buildup to The Jungle Movie. ;)

There's a lot to love about the Jungle Movie (adventure! emotions! amazing music! a cute pig!), and I'm very hopeful the fans will be thrilled.

redcorn8918 karma

Hi Francesca,

I still get "I Saw Your Face and Wow" stuck in my head from time to time. What is your favorite original song from the show?

francesca_smith18 karma

Oh I definitely get Curly's toreador song stuck in my head...

Synviks17 karma

Hi! Synnöve here. Obviously big fan of your outstanding work on creating a character and work of art that continues to resonate with millions of people 20+ years later! Also, an even bigger fan of your apparent academic super-powers! I’ve provided five questions below; answer as few or as many as you’d like : ).

Thanks, congrats on the new film, and best of luck with your studies and career!!

1: We live in an age where almost every media property is, by perceived necessity, a multimedia experience designed to stoke fandoms and provide ever growing avenues for engagement with said property... it's a good time to be interested in transmedia! What aspect(s) of the phenomena decidedly drew your attention to the point that it's the focus of your PhD? Have you published yet (If so I'd love to read your work)?

2: Speaking of PhD studies, how were you able to participate in TJM whilst attending to them?! As someone staring down the barrel of a future maths PhD, I understand how they tend to UTTERLY CONSUME your life. If a S6 were green-lit would you not be able to participate due to this?

3: Since the advent of feminist frameworks of analysis and criticism, the trope of female characters being defined in relation to/motivated by male characters has been rightfully called out for its sexist underpinnings. One would initially think Helga would be an example of this trope, but many viewers find enough depth and complexity within her character to feel that such a reading is erroneous. What are your views on this matter?

5: Helga’s depth as a character seems to originate from many contradictory aspects of personality:

Very large heart and emotional sensitivity that’s walled off by cynicism and fear of vulnerability, an extremely gifted intellect that's nevertheless prone to repeat mistakes which alienate those she cares about (namely Arnold), a loathing of familial interaction yet a deep-seated desire to have an authentic/loving interaction with them, a strong sense-of-self/self-confidence that is occasionally tossed aside when it may impress Arnold/deflated when comparing herself to her sister or peers, etc. etc.!

These almost paradoxical traits push and pull her in many directions, causing her instability and anguish. In your view, what would Helga need to be “okay”? That is to say, to grow up in to a successful, stable person who is mostly secure with themselves and doesn't feel empty?

Thanks again!

francesca_smith18 karma

Hey Synnöve!

Going to take the time to read this thoroughly and respond from home. :)

francesca_smith47 karma

Okay, diving in more fully now that I'm back home and have recovered a bit.

First of all, thank you so much for these incredibly thoughtful questions. I'll try to do them justice, although there are obviously a lot of complex issues at play here (some of which I'm probably not that well equipped to answer!).

1) I couldn't agree more! We are in an age of media/story universes, and this elusive concept of "engagement" is at the heart of it. A lot of what I looked at while working with USC's Annenberg Innovation Lab centered on these types of issues...which are understandable effects/components of the unique cultural environment we live in, with media creators struggling to "cut through the noise," draw audience members' attention, and foster deep and loyal relationships with them. I credit Henry Jenkins, as well as my colleagues at the AIL, for really opening my eyes to these dynamics, and the possibilities of building out story worlds. There's a wonderful chapter in Convergence Culture that details how The Matrix franchise employed transmedia strategies, and even though I'm not particularly a Matrix fan, I have to admire the incredible craftsmanship, the complexity, and the sense of exploration/adventure that are represented in that case. So, part of it was creative and academic fascination with these possibilities, as well as (more philosophically, but also pragmatically) what that means for storytelling and for audiences. I also observe my own wishes and enthusiasm as an audience member/fan, and how much I love feeling like I can be surrounded by a world that's meaningful and beautiful to me (like Outlander, or World of Warcraft, or Harry Potter, or any number of other examples). I know that feeling of wanting more, and I'm also fascinated by the possibilities of how we might experience that "more"...what new forms of technologies or methods of telling stories are available to us now. I'm not sure if that answers your question, but hopefully it sheds some light on why I care about this stuff. :) I did work on a chapter of a book that summarizes some of AIL's thinking on "New Screens" for communicating. You can find the book for free online (look up "The Edison Project"). I have one other co-authored article out, but that's on something very different. Other than that, you should be able to find two talks I was involved with at SXSW that might be of interest. :)

2) Truthfully, it's because I've dragged out my dissertation far longer than I should have—and I'm incredibly grateful to the university and the people there who have been supportive of me through that!—but also, TJM didn't demand a huge amount of concentrated time, especially since it was spread out over what Craig called a "luxurious" production schedule. :) If I were to consider returning to acting on more of a full-time basis, like for S6, I would probably need to be a little less optimistic and a little more realistic about my time management, and probably let go some of the (very cool, but very time-consuming) projects I have on my plate. But my hope/expectation is that the dissertation would either be done by then or not need to be part of that culling process!

3) This one is tricky for me to answer, if only because I don't feel particularly confident in my ability to speak to the varied and complex tenets of feminist analysis, especially given its many forms. Even if I were better versed in those frameworks, I suspect issues like this are also rather debatable—or, rather, can inspire rich discussion with a wide range of well-supported opinions. With that caveat in place, I'll offer this food for thought: I wonder how much of Helga's behavior and introspection, which is ostensibly and markedly focused on Arnold, is really much more about her...and I wonder what degree Arnold serves in her mind as a proxy for her own sense of self-acceptance, good, and so on.

4 HAS VANISHED! SEND A SEARCH PARTY!

5) Wow. That's...a big question, because I think there's so much in there that's probably applicable to a whole lot of people. So what would it take for any of us to be "okay"? :) Hang on, let me pull that magic answer out of my hat...but more seriously, my own opinion? Especially with the rise of mindfulness in our culture, it seems increasingly important to be able to identify and acknowledge these (seemingly?) contradictory forces, to recognize when they're at play...and find a sense of peace and self in their midst. Maybe it's a take on Aristotle's "Golden Mean," maybe it's a manifestation of the quote about being large and containing multitudes (which I've just looked up and believe is Walt Whitman). I think it's about feeling supported such that you can express those thoughts and extremes—in a safe way, without hurting anyone—and, as sappy as it might sound, loving and accepting and being kind to yourself along the way. It's about making space for all the weird and negative stuff to exist but also noticing and nurturing the positive. For her, in particular, I think that a balance between finding support and validation from the outside (e.g., family or Arnold) and relying on her own sense of worth will be incredibly valuable.

little_pyro_spencer12 karma

Back when you were voicing Helga for the original TV series, was it ever awkward for you to read the long Helga monologues? Did you ever crack up?

francesca_smith26 karma

Not that I can remember! I was a pretty serious little kiddo (still am). Plus, I don't think I really had much of a perspective on how silly or extreme Helga was...I was very much in the moment, and trying to be as professional as possible. That said, I think we all had a lot of fun, too. ;)

noimbuzzlightyear11 karma

Back when you were doing "Hey Arnold!", how much did you get to meet and interact with the other voice actors?

Thanks for all the work you've done making Helga such a fantastic character. Just saw the "Magic Show" episode last night and it has one of my favourite Helga lines: "Are you blind?? Two pigeons just flew out of his pants!" Your delivery was gold!

francesca_smith19 karma

Thanks for saying so! :)

I was really lucky on that show in particular to do a lot of the recording as part of an ensemble. Pretty much every Thursday afternoon, all of the kids would get together to record. It was a very surreal and very cool way to grow up. :) Plus, Lane Toran and I hung out a fair amount outside of Hey Arnold! because we did a lot of musical theatre together.

Nestly2511 karma

Yo Franny!

Gotta love that iconic Helga scream. Has made me crack up laughing since I was 10 years old. How many “scream takes” did they have you do for TJM? (And did you scare any of the kids in the room? Lol!)

francesca_smith12 karma

I can't remember off the top of my head, but I think we grabbed a few. And yes, I do think there was a little bit of a reaction in the room. ;) I still don't really think of my scream as anything out of the ordinary, but I guess it is! :)

Zachrules969 karma

Hi franny, it’s nice to meet you. I’m sorry I can’t stay long because I have tutoring. However I do have a few questions.

  1. What led to you being given the role of helga pataki?

  2. What was your favorite helga themed episode?

  3. What did you do between the end of hey Arnold production and the start of the jungle movie?

  4. How did you feel when the jungle movie was cancelled in 2002? And what was your reaction when it was revived last year?

I made this hey arnold montage of all the episodes. Hope you like it.

https://youtu.be/5JyG9u14yf8

francesca_smith19 karma

Hi there!

  1. I auditioned and, according to Craig, I did something right! :)
  2. I have a special place in my heart for "Helga on the Couch." The character had matured enough by that point to where delving into her psyche really meant something...and I was really lucky to work with the fabulous Kathy Baker on that episode, as well.
  3. Mostly sobbed. Just kidding. It was a great time in my life to focus more on school, so I spent a lot of time doing that. I also got really involved in speech and debate (competing and then coaching), as well as dance (mostly social dance like swing). More recently, I've been getting back into the entertainment industry through consulting and some creative work, which has been really amazing.
  4. It was sad, of course, but in retrospect, taking the time off actually added an amazing layer of perspective to the project. So its revival was...surprising, really...exciting, and amazing. I'll admit there were moments where I was also worried, to make sure we did it right...because I think it's so easy to mess up something like this, when there's so much nostalgia at play, but my worries were assuaged pretty quickly once I saw the script and saw how amazingly everything was coming together. :) Let me know after Friday how you think we did!

Good luck with tutoring. :)

Lilapricotie9 karma

I'm going to start work soon so I'll make this a quick thing. First off, thank you for playing Helga, I truly admire your work and love that you are so intelligent and have done so well after the series was ended. I was bullied for so long and became a bully and literally never felt more connected to a character like Helga. I have a bratty older sister whom I come to love and a crazy business man parent and mother who wasn't always all there.... Honestly you bring to life, what I as a child went through and I thank you for that. But lol finally to the question... Do you have any plans for the future after the movie?Such as writing a book or maybe traveling?

francesca_smith10 karma

Thank you so much for saying so, and for opening up about your own similar experiences. I'm glad I was able to be part of something that resonated. :)

I'm actually doing a bunch of projects right now, which is all very exciting...lots of transmedia design and production stuff. The big challenge is finishing my PhD, but I'm hopeful that I'll be doing that within the next year or so and then diving even more fully into helping make amazing things. I'd also love to travel more...open to recommendations for where to go next. :)

sironej9 karma

Also I just wanted to thank you so much for your work as Helga. She's literally me as kid. Not very feminine but hiding a lot because it's easier. My dad was actually the emotionally unavailable alcoholic and my mom was the blowhard who referred to me by my more socially adept and academically accomplished sisters name. (No shrines though, but definitely in love with a nice boy I knew when I was 11ish hahaha). I don't think I could have made it through elementary and middle school if there weren't someone who I could relate to and who made going through this stuff seem more possible. So thank you thank you thank you.

Just one more question for you: can you tell us a bit about the dynamics/relationship between Helga and Gerald in the new movie?

francesca_smith16 karma

Thank you so much for sharing that; I hope you're thriving now. :)

I think that Helga and Gerald actually have a very cool dynamic in the new movie; despite whatever differences they may have, they both recognize how the other can help Arnold, so they choose to work together to make that happen.

olgathevampireslayer8 karma

Hi Francesca! What kind of job do you think Helga will want to work as an adult?

francesca_smith18 karma

Loving the username!

Hmm, that's a tough question. I suspect she wouldn't do too well having to answer to someone else, and I think she'd be most fulfilled doing something that allows her to channel her passion. I'd like to think that all her energy could wind up being pointed towards making the world a better place, rather than being wrapped up fully in her own angst. So, given those parameters, she might have a really interesting career as a documentary filmmaker, an artist of some sort, a journalist, an activist...

olgathevampireslayer3 karma

Oh, thank you so much! This is a very well thought out answer, I hope your day is going fantastically :)

francesca_smith7 karma

Thank you! :) Same to you!

skarr1237 karma

What's your favorite type of music and what artists/bands do you like to listen to?

francesca_smith16 karma

I've really been getting into vintage jazz lately—Los Angeles has a pretty amazing live music scene, and I love dancing to that kind of music when I can. :)

Beyond that, I think I have a pretty standard list of '90s bands in my virtual record collection (lots of Counting Crows, had a pretty big Collective Soul phase, lots of R.E.M.), but I think a couple of consistent ones through the years have been Oingo Boingo and the Stray Cats. Also some Panic! at the Disco for a while.

sironej7 karma

Without too much spoiling, what was the most fun scene for you to record? And which was your favorite to see come to life at the premiere?

Also congrats on all the academic and professional success as well as the completion of TJM!

francesca_smith13 karma

Thank you so much for your kind words!

Hmm...I definitely loved being able to jump back into Helga's emotional rollercoaster. It was a surprisingly fun exercise, if that makes sense...it really felt like stretching some emotional muscles that I hadn't really used in a while.

I'll have to think about my favorite scene to see come to life...hmm.

corndogs10016 karma

Hi big fan of the show! I saw the panel at ny comic con which was really fun!

My question to you was was there any Nickelodeon show you liked back then and wanted to be apart of, and what’s your favorite cartoon today if you have any?

Also is Helga the type of person to put her milk in before her cereal?

francesca_smith17 karma

I was a pretty big fan of Doug...I watched all of the original Nicktoons, actually! I also loved David the Gnome and Maya the Bee when I was young (especially on sick days). But especially when I started working more in animation, I tended to watch less of it, because it kind of messed with the suspension of disbelief to be hearing my friends (oh, yes, woe is me that I got to be friends with all these amazing actors who were in a million things, right?! ;) ).

I don't understand the concept of milk before cereal. That's just strange to me. If Helga's that kind of person, then I fear I don't know her at all.

mitchysteve6 karma

Being on a show that was so full of life lessons, what was your favorite lesson that stuck out for you? Mine was always the Pigeon Man episode, if nothing else for seeing a man carried into the sun by 100 trained pigeons.

francesca_smith19 karma

I personally have fond memories of the Christmas episode, and the selflessness that promoted. I know there's a lot more to highlight, but I think more broadly (and specifically focusing on Helga), there's an underlying message about it being okay to be really confused, and to feel really intensely, and to be struggling with things...and, in retrospect (as has come up during all of our press just recently), I think including an episode where she talks about all of those things with a therapist is a pretty powerful thing.

Edwardistheman6 karma

What is your favorite scene from the jungle movie?

francesca_smith10 karma

There are a number of moments where Helga jumps around from emotion to emotion as she tries to work through everything she feels about Arnold, so those particular monologues were really fun to record. As for my favorite scene in the finished movie...I'm afraid I can't say until after Friday. ;)

Edwardistheman6 karma

What is your favorite memory working on the tv show?

francesca_smith11 karma

I've highlighted a couple of fun ones (Helga on the Couch, the opera episode), but it's so hard to pick a favorite. I also loved doing the Romeo and Juliet episode because I had a whole school project about it...AND I got to meet Tim Curry.

Joa6abril20016 karma

Hi Francesca!

A question. Did you know who was the actor who was slated to voice La Sombra in the original Jungle Movie? I suppose that it was the unidentified actor who played La Sombra in "The Journal", so I think that it was Carlos Alazraqui or Brian Dyole-Murray?

Is anyone of this?

francesca_smith7 karma

Hmm. It's been a long time, and I don't want to spread misinformation...I'm also not sure how far along in the process they got, so they may not even have made that casting decision. Can't say for sure.

Jams2x26 karma

Did you love singing in What's Opera,Arnold?

francesca_smith13 karma

You know, that episode was interesting for me, because I think I started out trying to make the singing sound good (which is a little silly, since I'm not operatically trained), but partway through we shifted to make it sound more like Helga...and thus, funny rather than "good."

I have a memory of going out of the booth on a break and chatting with the studio teacher, who asked how it was going. I said the singing "wasn't good" and she optimistically finished the sentence with, "...it's great?" And I said, "Uh, well, no, it's not great either. But it's funny!" ;)

epictoyseries026 karma

u/francesca_smith Lately, I have been watching the complete series of “Hey Arnold!” on DVD, so I can prepare myself for The Jungle Movie. And I think you do an amazing job voicing Helga. I love it when she punches Brainy. Will we see some of that in The Jungle Movie?

francesca_smith13 karma

Thank you so much! :)

And you can absolutely expect lots of callbacks to the classic gags from the series...Brainy-punching included. There was a pretty solid checklist of stuff to include, which will hopefully make fans of the original show very happy indeed. :)

Joet23865 karma

What advice would you give to other Fandoms that are trying to get revivals to their series?

francesca_smith10 karma

Wow, what an interesting question. I don't really know enough about how all this works to say for sure, nor do I think there's a formula for it. However, speaking more as an academic than as an actor, I think it's important to back up your promises and requests with behavior that can be tracked and that can be shown to have value (e.g., buying things and tuning in); I recall stories of fandoms who pushed for specific changes but then didn't follow through with things like ticket sales, which ultimately hurts the cause. Speaking with respect to Hey Arnold! in particular, I think organized movements really can and do pay off (and as I'm told in the room here, things like fan art and hashtags really do get attention).

POCK3TBOOKrocks5 karma

Hi, Francesca! I've got a few questions, but I'll ask them in separate posts so I won't make you only focus on me.

If there were to be a 6th season of Hey Arnold! after The Jungle Movie, what stories would you like to be told in it? I’m sure Hey Arnold! could easily tackle situations regarding 21st century life—like cyberbullying or smartphone addiction. How about you? Have you thought of any new stories for a 6th season?

francesca_smith9 karma

Hi there!

Obviously a lot of possibilities here, but as an overview...I think what I've learned over the years is that the original show always tried to deal with things that were truly meaningful to children and young adults, so to the degree that there are new things today that are meaningful or tough or important for viewers, then those seem like perfect candidates for the show to take on.

Yusuke14 karma

Hi Francesca, I have three questions.

1: Are you considering or planning for any future Comic Con appearances?

2: Do you have a favorite Batman actor or Batman voice actor?

3: Do you have a favorite video game or video game console?

francesca_smith7 karma

1) Nothing on the calendar, but I'm always happy to show up if I'm asked! :)

2) I was actually lucky enough to be on one of the Batman shows, so I suppose I could say myself... ;) But to be honest, I really need to catch up on the canon. I have a ton of respect for Mark Hamill, and I have fond memories of NPH's Music Meister...

3) I don't play that much anymore, and all my consoles are woefully out of date, but I do still play WoW. :)

francesca_smith11 karma

As a side note, some of my academic work is actually looking at the Batman universe... :)

Yusuke12 karma

Thank you for answering the questions. For the comic con appearances, is there any chance you could come to any of the three comic cons within the time slot of western states: Salt Lake Comic Con (September 6-8 2018), Phoenix Comic con (May 24-27 2018), or Denver Comic Con (June 15-17 2018)?

francesca_smith6 karma

I actually haven't really actively sought out con appearances...I've been lucky enough to be asked to appear at a few, at which point I say yes if I can. :) So, to continue that pattern, you might think about reaching out to the organizers of those events, and if I'm invited, I'll do my best!

coupureelectrique4 karma

Hey Francesca! :) I think I can speak for all of us when I say we’re thrilled to see Helga on our TVs again.

You say Helga is a part of you, as you grew up with her. Coming back to this character all these years later, would you say it was harder or easier to connect with her as an adult now that you’re aware of Helga’s complex circumstances and difficult home life?

francesca_smith9 karma

Ooo, what does your username mean?

Thanks for saying so! :)

Hmm. That's a tough question. In some ways, I do think I have more of a dual perspective now: I can see what she's doing and what she's going through from a little more of an outside perspective (and what that means for audience members), but then of course I also take on her point of view when voicing her. When I was originally on the show, I don't think I had that outside perspective component. I do worry that somehow that additional awareness could make the performance somehow less authentic (you tell me after Friday!), but I hope that it adds a new layer of richness and purpose, instead.

FebruaryMadeMeShiver4 karma

What has been your favorite aspect of Helga's character after all these years?

francesca_smith7 karma

Thank you for getting American Pie stuck in my head. ;)

I think that her intellectual complexity, and her passion, are pretty wonderful.

JonPitre3 karma

Hey Francesca, huge fan, even though you voiced Helga what character did you best identify with?

francesca_smith7 karma

Definitely Helga.

atlasobscura3 karma

Hello! Thanks for doing this. What would you say you and Helga have in common?

francesca_smith13 karma

The tendency to go down emotional rabbit holes, and think really, really deeply about something that we decide is important...sometimes to a comical extent. ;)

Jams2x23 karma

Do you love having a sister like Olga?

francesca_smith9 karma

Olga and Nika are both wonderful.

Joet23863 karma

What are you're favorite foods?

francesca_smith9 karma

Oh wow. I...like eating way too much. I have a juice problem. ;) One of my favorite things in the universe is salted caramel truffles from this chocolate place in London (Paul A. Young). If you have occasion to be in London, it's DEFINITELY worth a stop.

arnoldmcguire3353 karma

Hi Franny! Coming in on behalf of the fellow members of "Hey Arnold: We Saved the Jungle Movie!" group on FB that don't have a Reddit account so good afternoon and it's nice to be here.

So first things first:

  • During the times you did not play as Helga (As in after the show) in your teen years was there anything in your life that reminded you of the show?
  • If you had a chance to have the show crossover with a live-action Nick show from iCarly onwards what will you have it crossover with?
  • During your college/university years do you still had fond memories of the show and was there some parts of it that helped you get to where you are now before and after graduation?
  • BIG QUESTION: I don't know if you answered this before but considering right now do you think Helga's way of dealing with her crush on Arnold a good thing or no? If so explain.
  • Ever heard of the term "Tsundere"? (Helga is a rare American Cartoon example.)
  • During your time playing Helga which cast member were you close to, and if you had a crush on one of the Arnolds that time? (As in Toran, Phillip or Spencer)

Thanks And have a good day!

francesca_smith9 karma

Hi! Good to hear from the group. :)

I want to focus on the big question you've marked here (mostly in the interest of time): I'm not a psychological expert by any means, so I'm hesitant to say whether her behavior was "good" in any objective way. What I will say is that it can be incredibly hard at any age to know how to process intense feelings, and even more so at 9...and even more so when you might not have role models or outlets to help you understand what you're going through (whether it's about family life or other things). So I think that she probably did the best she could. I think that, when the opportunity felt right for her, she did reach out and communicate...with friends/authorities (like Dr. Bliss) who might be able to support her, and with Arnold himself, and that kind of communication seems valuable to me. I hear journaling is also a really positive thing to do, and she did plenty of that. :) There were other things that were probably less helpful for her (e.g., internalizing a lot of things), and even hurtful to others...those are the kinds of things that I think merit some real thought and reflection, especially when thinking about how Helga might be viewed as a role model.

Joet23863 karma

Franny, How does it feel knowing that The Jungle Movie has finally happened?

francesca_smith7 karma

It's pretty amazing. We're in a really incredible moment right now, culturally, such that fan love and nostalgia has a real influence on the creative industries. Both as a performer and as an academic, that's been fascinating to see.

KRoedell183 karma

Will u be live tweeting during the event Fri night?

francesca_smith6 karma

I don't know! Should I? What do I say?

nicholasbloom3 karma

what was your favorite moment from the jungle movie?

francesca_smith4 karma

Check out my response to a similar question elsewhere in this thread! :)

Lardoboyish3 karma

Hi, Francesca! If you have time, I wanted to know...

Have you ever felt "unpretty" (sorta like Helga) growing up? If so, how did you overcome it? Similar to Helga in the Maveover ep? Just wondering, 'cause I could relate a lot to that ep! ❤ Love ya! (p.s. you are a beaut! ✨)

francesca_smith11 karma

"Growing up?" I had a moment while I was driving home today (before I saw this question, actually) where I felt incredibly awkward and "unpretty," and really got down on myself because of my looks...and this is despite getting an unbelievable amount of validation from friends, fans, and family. I immediately wondered why I felt that way—whether I was really seeing some twisted version of myself, and why I let it bother me since beauty is such a subjective and cultural thing anyway. I don't have any great answers, but I think the question you raise absolutely merits recognition and discussion, so...even though it makes me vulnerable to do so, I wanted to let you know that I absolutely have those feelings, and I suspect a lot of others do, too. I'll offer just a few thoughts in hopes that they help:

1) It's so easy to forget, and so crucial to remember, how much work goes into the visions of beauty we see in media and social media. I completely get how it's appealing to the performer as well as the audience to have such a "perfect" vision, but a serious problem arises when we believe (as we are invited to believe, I think) that such things are "real." It's so incredibly unfair to compare ourselves to that constructed version of reality, and yet, I think it's natural to do so. Maybe the more we show all the behind-the-scenes efforts that contribute to this "beauty" (and a wider range of people and things presented as "beautiful") it will be easier for us to recognize it for what it is...one can hope.

2) Beauty is a strange thing and, as I said above, is so deeply tied to culture as well as personal preferences. I suspect that there will always be someone who finds us beautiful, and someone who finds us ugly. It's probably in our nature to be defensive about and hurt by the latter category, even though it isn't logical (and, for some reason, we take on the perspective of our own worst critics sometimes, even if they are similarly not particularly logical). So, what purpose does "beauty" serve, anyway, if it's all just subjective...? And why do we believe the negative opinions of others, at times ignoring perfectly valid positive ones? Tough questions.

3) A large part of "beauty" has to do with being accepted by others. However, there are a lot of ways to accomplish that. For example, being kind, being supportive, being genuinely interested in someone else as a person...these are all ways to foster people liking you, and there are plenty of other avenues for being seen as "valuable" and "valid." It doesn't just have to be about how much effort (or time, or money) you put into your makeup or apparel.

4) While I recognize the human desire to be validated by other people (we are, after all, social creatures!), it's also very true that finding our own sense of self-worth is crucial—not only because you have more control over it, and can ultimately be deeply fulfilled by it, but also because truly feeling comfortable with yourself and loving who you are can often foster acceptance and love from others, too. Besides, if "beauty" is subjective anyway, such that you're going to have to choose whose evaluation of beauty to believe regardless...why not choose your own? Of course, even your own definition of beauty is going to be influenced by culture, and it may still be hard to attain...but what would it look like to determine the things that are really valuable to us—that are within our reach—and strive for those as our paragon of beauty? That may be strength to accomplish certain tasks, or it may be a hair color that brings you joy, or it may be a propensity to laugh readily or always show up to a party with baked goods (which, personally, I would consider pretty beautiful). What would it mean to look really closely at ourselves and, for every thing we identify that we don't like, find something else that we do, and do our best to celebrate those things? To actually accept the things we cannot change and, for those that we can change (like the hair color or the baked goods), identify clearly why we want to...and then take action in a way that supports our deepest values? I'm not great at it, but it's an experiment I'd love to take on.

At the same time, we can also work to tell others how accepted and valued they are ("beautiful" in all sorts of ways), in hopes that all those positive opinions can help outweigh the negative ones we're so inclined to believe. :)

I get that it's hard. I suspect that I've managed to avoid a lot of the pain that comes from people, especially kids and teenagers, judging others harshly...I can only imagine how difficult that can be. But I'm hopeful that there are ways to navigate it. :) And hopefully it's gotten easier over time for you, too.

Joet23863 karma

Francesca do you feel that Nickelodeon has cracked the formula on how to appeal to both old and new fans and how to properly revive TV Shows?

francesca_smith9 karma

I think that's a huge challenge, and I know it's something the creative team was very mindful of during the process. I think we'll know for sure after Friday whether it worked, but I think they have a lot of wonderful pieces in play to try to accomplish those various goals (e.g., references to things from the original series, recognition of and resolution with respect to the things that were meaningful to fans of the original show, but also setting up the key relationships and goals in an efficient and elegant way to bring new viewers up to speed and help them get invested quickly).

schnorgal3 karma

What are your favorite pizza toppings?

francesca_smith5 karma

I actually have an amazing pizza recipe that involves basil, balsamic reduction, chicken apple sausage, fire-roasted tomatoes, and red bell peppers. And, of course, garlic. :)

Joet23863 karma

Franny Have you Tried Reptar Bars and Reptar Cereal yet?

francesca_smith5 karma

I haven't! Should I?

Joet23863 karma

Were you ever Slimed?

francesca_smith10 karma

Ooo, this is a good trivia question!

I don't recall being officially slimed, but one of the scenes I did on The Amanda Show involved getting sprayed by a skunk, and I believe the formula they used for that was the same as slime (something like vanilla pudding...?).

redditusernamenumbah3 karma

Hey! Hey Arnold fan here. If I'm not busy the day of the premiere, I'll most likely be watching. :)

How likely is it at the moment that some new Hey Arnold is coming around (new season or etc)?

Thanks!

francesca_smith3 karma

Hi there!

You know, I really have no idea. I guess The Jungle Movie shows that anything's possible. :) But there are so many moving parts that I really can't even venture a guess.

Zekumi2 karma

Aside from Hey Arnold!, what was your favorite show on Nickelodeon?

francesca_smith6 karma

I have to give a shout-out to my brother's show (which I also showed up on a couple of times): The Secret World of Alex Mack. :)

Edwardistheman2 karma

Are you like Helga in real life?

francesca_smith6 karma

I definitely think we have a fair amount in common (which sometimes isn't always a good thing, because sometimes I forget that her attitude can be funny in a cartoon, but not so much in real life). You can hear her come out when I'm particularly annoyed about something. And I think we both get pretty emotional, and pretty analytical. Thankfully, I've got a little better control over those extremes. ;) And no bubble-gum shrines, I promise.

Zekumi1 karma

How often do people recognize your voice while out in public?

francesca_smith5 karma

I'm not sure that anyone has without being told. The closest I might have gotten is somebody possibly saying my voice was familiar but couldn't place it...?

Zekumi1 karma

In your personal opinion, what career do you think Helga would end up having as an adult?

francesca_smith5 karma

Hi Zekumi!

Think I answered this elsewhere in this thread! :)

nicholasbloom1 karma

whats your favorite place to travel to?

francesca_smith5 karma

Hmm, tough question! Santorini was magical. I'm a pretty huge fan of London. Ghent was the most wonderful surprise. Still so many places to explore! How about you?

JosephSnap1 karma

Dear Francesca, Does one of the other characters you voice (besides Helga), have a speaking Role in the Jungle Movie?

francesca_smith3 karma

Not that I know of/recall, outside of group chatter. :)

thxxx13371 karma

Marry, bang, kill.... Sam, Cass, Dean?

francesca_smith6 karma

I'm told this is about Supernatural. I really need to catch up on that, don't I?