Nancy Cartwright Chats with Andrea Romano -- Part 1
Andrea Romano has been a staple of TV animation since the '80s, working at Hanna-Barbera and then on the Smurfs, among others, before segueing into the '90s with Batman, Tiny Toon Adventures, Animaniacs, Pinky and the Brain, Superman and more; and then, most recently, on Justice League, Teen Titans, Avatar: The Last Airbender, Superman/Doomsday, Batman: Gotham Knight, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern: First Flight and Ben 10: Alien Force.
Nancy Cartwright: So tell me about your beginning -- all the way back to 1981 or '82 at Hanna-Barbera (HB).
Andrea Romano: I grew up in Eastern Long Island in NY and did my undergraduate school at Fredonia NY which is 60 miles SW of Buffalo -- an excellent theater arts school--excellent! I graduated in three years because it's near Buffalo, NY and freezing cold and I wanted to get the heck out of that 40 below temperature! I did my graduate at Rutgers in NJ and didn't finish my graduate degree because I just felt the need to get out of academia and into the professional industry. I was auditioning in Manhattan and working at Capezio, a dance and fashion shop in The Village and I'd take my lunch break, go do an audition, come back to work until 7:00 pm, then go out and do a play at night! When I wasn't doing a play at night I would go do phone sales because you had to just keep trying to make a living in NY. I didn't have two nickels to rub together when I was there!
But it was good phone experience it was good just to use your voice of all things. So then, I always had this feeling that I belonged in Southern California, every time a classmate would come out here for a vacation and come back tan in the middle of winter I just thought I need to go out to California... I only just found out a few years ago that I was conceived in Santa Monica.
NC: So, in other words, you're a native?
AR: Yeah, exactly, so there were always roots here for me. I moved here in 1979, just packed up my life in my mom's attic and came out with one suitcase and $400, which was my entire life savings and I moved to San Diego thinking I would get some theater work. There is very little theater work in San Diego. I was a trained actress but I was also five-feet tall and 200 lbs-- a quite large Italian Jewish actress… not many roles for that. I knew nothing about voice-over. I did a couple of plays down there and then my dear friend, Anthony Barnao, who I had gone to college with at Fredonia, called me up and said, "Hey, I'm at a big talent agency in Los Angeles and they need a voice-over assistant for a couple of weeks while Vanessa Gilbert recovers from a car accident. Can you come up and temp for a little while?" So I came up to Los Angeles and I was there just a few weeks when Vanessa called in and said "I'm not going to come back. It's going to take me a lot longer to recover." So within months they franchised me as an agent at Abrams-Rubaloff, which was a very large talent agency at the time. It had Paul Winchell, Frank Welker, June Foray and Gene Moss -- all these remarkable voice-over actors and every day I would meet these people and my jaw would drop. I was just astounded at their talent and to me, Paul Winchell, from Winchell and Mahoney was just amazing!
NC: Did you make a decision right then?