(KGET) — The casting of Yvette Nicole Brown to be the voice of the canine character Captain Tully in the new Disney Junior animated comedy-adventure series “The Chicken Squad” would suggest her career has gone to the dogs. The reality is the actress, singer and television host gladly has seen her career go to the dogs over the years.
She was the voice of multiple characters in the animated “Pound Puppies” and “Puppy Dog Pals.” And, Brown shares her home with her adopted dog Harley, who starred with her in the live-action version of “Lady and the Tramp.”
“I am such a dog lover, there is really no other place to be,” Brown says.
“The Chicken Squad” – scheduled to launch at 7:30 p.m. May 14 on Disney Junior – is inspired by Doreen Cronin’s popular children’s books. The series features a trio of young chicken siblings — Coop (Ramone Hamilton), Sweetie (Gabriella Graves) and Little Boo (Maxwell Simkins) — being mentored by Captain Tully (Brown), a retired search and rescue dog. The trio must team up on problem-solving adventures in their backyard to help their animal friends – often with a song in their heart.
Each episode is made up of two 11-minute stories that features the recurring “Chicken Charge” anthem that the chickens sing upon determination of a new mission and at least one new original song that showcases a variety of musical styles ranging from pop and R&B to country, hip-hop and electronic.
Brown’s love of canines and voice work made it easy for Brown to agree to be part of “The Chicken Squad.” It was also nice that the job came during the pandemic and she was able to keep working in a safe manner.
“The voice work I ever did was ‘Pound Puppies’ and I think I was trying to be a little too method,” Brown says. “The whole point is we are people playing dogs and so we embody them the way a human would do it. So, my ‘woofs’ and my darks are always the way I think a human would do sounding like a dog.
“You don’t have to get into the mindset of a dog because a dog is just love.”
The approach Brown used with voicing Captain Tully came out of numerous jobs aimed at young audience members. Her tone is to make sure that those viewers never feel yelled at, talked down to or threatened.
Even when Captain Tully is upset or concerned, Brown makes sure the sound of her voice gets across a very loving and caring tone. She wants the young viewers to always feel the love from the character.
Brown currently is not only working on “The Chicken Squad” but she also has a role on the Disney+ series “Big Shot.” She plays the headmistress of the high school that hired a shamed college basketball coach (John Stamos) to be the head of the girls’ basketball team.
The series has Brown returning to an educational setting after her long run on the comedy “Community.” She is enjoying her return to that environment.
“I am so used to hallways on sets with lockers and bookbags and, you know, different, you know, parties and dances and all of that. So it kind of feels like home,” Brown says. “It’s kind of fun this time to be the dean and to be the one that’s in control and keeping everything together.”
Brown calls it a blessing to do so many Disney projects because her criteria for selecting work over the years has been to make it safe for those eight to 80. In the case of “The Chicken Squad” she hits an even younger audience.
The Cleveland native has been doing family-friendly work since she started her entertainment career as a recording artist while still in her teens. She quickly made the move to TV with roles on “Community,” “The Mayor,” “Drake & Josh,” “The Odd Couple,” “Mom,” “Psych,” “House,” “Entourage,” “The Office,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “Two and a Half Men,” “Malcolm in the Middle” and “That ’70s Show.”
She’s had a long career as a voice actor before “The Chicken Squad” with “Elena of Avalor,” “DC Super Hero Girls,” “SuperMansion” and “Lego Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures.”
The big difference between the on-camera and voice-over work is that generally recording sessions are done by the actor working alone. That became even more the case during the pandemic.
Brown has never had a problem working on her own.
“It’s not hard for me because I’m an introvert and a self-starter,” Brown says. “I started as a singer so I think of comedy and acting as music. I can hear the music whether I have accompaniment or not.
“The reason I like when I record by myself is because I can record a whole episode in 15 minutes. Whereas when you are working with other people you have to wait until they say their line. For efficiency’s sake, I love recording by myself. But nothing can capture the magic of a bunch of silly people together and that’s what ‘Community’ was.”
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