Ashly Burch scares up fun with ‘The Ghost and Molly McGee’

Rick's Reviews

Ashly Burch provides the voice of Moll in “The Ghost and Molly McGee.” (Photo courtesy of Disney Channel)

Parents looking for a way to calm down their young children who are on a candy high after trick-or-treating on Halloween can turn to one of the newest offerings on the Disney Channel. The animated “The Ghost and Molly McGee” follows the adventures of a tween girl who befriends a grumpy ghost named Scratch.

New episodes of the series air at 9 a.m. Saturdays but can be recorded, viewed on the streaming service of Disney+ or watched through services such as On Demand on Halloween night.

Providing the voice of the incredibly optimistic Molly is actor and writer Ashly Burch. Her past voice work has included projects such as “Adventure Time” and “We Bare Bears.” She’s also been seen on screen including her current role of Rachel on the Apple TV+ series “Mystic Quest.”

Burch understands how difficult it can be to find a show that features scares but is not too intense for some youngsters. When she was growing up in Phoenix, Burch couldn’t watch scary movies.

“What’s so nice about this show – in so many different ways – is that it really encourages kids to not be afraid of things that are different,” Burch says. “They should embrace them and see them as exciting.”

There’s no question Molly is enthusiastic about having Scratch in her life as the character is a full-speed-ahead dynamo. Burch credits Dana Snyder – who provides the voice of Scratch — with helping her find the energy to voice the character.

Generally, voice actors will record their lines without the other actors being in the room. Burch and Snyder were able to record their lines together and that meant they could feed off each other’s energy.

“It’s a real fun energy to keep up because we are always riffing back and forth and finding things in the scene and improving stuff,” Burch says. “So, it doesn’t feel like I am having to be at a 10 and hold it there. I am getting to perform with another person and find fun moments in a scene.”

“It gives me energy.”

Along with Burch and Snyder, the voice cast of “The Ghost and Molly McGee” also includes: Jordan Klepper as the voice of Pete, Molly’s anxiously idealistic father; Sumalee Montano as the voice of Sharon and Grandma Nin, Molly’s mother and grandmother; and Michaela Dietz as the voice of Darryl, Molly’s brother.

Another big motivation to help Burch keep her energy high is that the creators of “The Ghost and Molly McGee” waited until they cast the actor to voice Molly before creating the final cultural design of the character. They made Molly biracial once they cast Burch whose mother is from Thailand.  An episode of the series deals with that issue.

Burch found that very meaningful because she is a “white-passing” biracial woman who often doesn’t always embrace her own roots. And, she has seen directly how ethnicity has not been a big part of the animation world.

“I think in the past, we were often quite colorblind in the ways that we wrote our characters. And I think we thought that was the right thing to do in the past,” Burch says. “But, really, the more authentic we are to the cultures that we’re writing, I think the more resonant they are.

“I think the staff is filled with Asian folks, women, all sorts of people, and I think that perspective is really important because then you’re telling honest stories.”

Disney Channel executives have embraced Molly and Scratch with so much enthusiasm that a second season of the animated buddy-comedy has been ordered.  New episodes of the first season of “The Ghost and Molly McGee” will air Saturday mornings through Nov. 27.

A trio of “Chibi Tiny Tales” shorts, featuring Chibi-style versions of Molly and Scratch embarking on wild adventures, including a visit to The Haunted Mansion, can be seen on Disney Channel, Disney Channel YouTube and DisneyNOW. 

As for Burch, her work can be found in a variety of places. Along with being a voice talent with “The Ghost and Molly McGee” and being a writer and actor on “Mystic Quest,” she has done award-winning work as a voice actor in video games like “Hero Zero Dawn,” “Borderlands” and “Final Fantasy XV.”

Burch loves each aspect of her career in different ways.

“Being a voice actor or being on set are so different in what is required of you,” Burch says. “They are all so rich and interesting in such different ways.

“In voiceover you have to create a theater of the mind landscape of what’s going on which is a certain part of your imagination. And then being on set, you have to think about things like how a piece of clothing affects my character. That’s another part of my brain. And then being in the writer’s room is like trying to put together a puzzle while you are creating the pieces at the same time.”

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