BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Ruth Righi is at a slight disadvantage at the Disney Junior Fest being held at California Adventure. The festival is designed to allow fans of programming on the cable channel to get close to the stars of their favorite shows such as “Mickey Mouse Funhouse” or “Alice’s Wonderland Bakery.”
Fans of “Sydney to the Max” recognize Righi from that Disney Channel series but no one has seen her new project, the animated “Eureka!” as it doesn’t debut until 7:30 p.m. June 22 on Disney Junior.
The lack of recognition for the series set in the fantastical prehistoric world of Rocky Falls hasn’t dampened Ruth’s enthusiasm. She’s as excited as a child who just spent the night in a candy shop when talking about “Eureka!”
Ruth’s first deep dive into the world of being a voice talent for an animated project has her speaking for Eureka, a young girl inventor who is way ahead of her time. She designs inventions and contraptions in the hopes of making the world a better place and moving her prehistoric community into a more modern era. That can mean turning a stick and rock into a pizza maker or creating a ski lift or a pencil.
“Eureka is a little younger than I am and she’s a cave girl so there’s a little disconnect there,” Ruth says with a laugh. “She’s a young black girl who has a wonderful smile and is a lot cooler than I am.
“She has no fear of anything.”
Ruth is particularly happy that giving voice to Eureka has put her in a very select sorority of actors providing voices for Disney animated characters. She grew up with a passion for reading because of Belle and learned from Mulan that she didn’t have to worry about what others thought but just tackled the kind of life she wanted to lead.
That life has included Ruth – the daughter of a mother who dances and a father who is a musician – performing since she was 3 years old. Before becoming a voice actor, Ruth’s resume ranged from TV work playing the title character of Sydney in Disney Channel’s daughter/father comedy “Sydney to the Max” for three seasons to being on Broadway in “School of Rock: The Musical.”
Ruth became convinced she wanted to be an actor after seeing her first Broadway show, “School of Rock.” She told her mom that she was going to do that and six months later was part of the “School of Rock” Broadway cast.
The year she spent on the New York stage where she had to project to the back of the auditorium ended up being a major help when she started her voice work for “Eureka!”
“It helps with the vocal endurance you need for recording vocal sessions,” Ruth says. “You are saying things over and over again until you get things just right.
“It also helped with finding the power to do the pitch of a young girl’s voice.”
As for her first work as a voice talent, Ruth explains it wasn’t the animation aspect that was the big draw for her.
“When I get an audition it comes down to whether or not I resonate with something,” Ruth says. “When I got this audition, it was very exciting because of all the music. I love to sing.
“Also, it was a young girl who was very empowered who wanted to create things. It just had a lot of female empowerment to it. It reflects what I want to be as a person.”
It’s a good thing that Ruth was drawn to the singing as the first season of “Eureka!” includes 76 original songs. A typical work day for her would be two hours of recording dialogue and two hours of singing.
Voice work strips away many tools actors use from facial expressions to hand gestures. Ruth found depending solely on her voice to get across the joy and enthusiasm of Eureka was a lot simpler than other acting she has done.
The California teen did come to the project with some experience behind the microphone. She released her first single, “Curls,” for Disney Channel Voices in 2019.
What struck Ruth as the oddest part of voice work was that she recorded her lines by herself. The rest of the voice talents for “Eureka!” – Kai Zen, Devin Trey Campbell, Fred Tatasciore, Cree Summer and Kevin Michael Richardson – were recorded on different days.
The series will feature a long list of guest performers providing voices including Loretta Devine, Sheila E. and Misty Copeland. Devine will voice Eureka’s grandmother, Wanda, while Sheila E. and Copeland will voice the characters of Yurt, a traveling musician, and Rockanne, a dance teacher, respectively.
“Eureka!” will debut on Disney Junior and the streaming service of Disney+ on the same day.