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Photo: Disney


‘Kiff’ — Kimiko Glenn on playing the peppy overachieving lead

Kimiko Glenn, who plays the titular character of Kiff, discusses the new animated series and her role.

Kiff is an upcoming animated buddy comedy created and executive produced by Lucy Heavens and Nic Smal. It follows best buds Kiff and Barry as they navigate school, relationships, and their home of Table Town, which has its share of oddballs and eccentrics. The series is partially inspired by Heavens and Smal’s experience growing up in Cape Town, South Africa.

Kimiko Glenn plays the titular character. She is known for her role as Brook Soso in Orange is the New Black. The actress also has an extensive career in animation voicing Peni Parker in Spider-Man: Edge of the Spider-Verse in addition to roles in BoJack Horseman, DuckTales, and Close Enough. We recently had the opportunity to speak with Glenn about Kiff, her character, and more.

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AIPT: You play the titular character Kiff, who reminds me of a younger squirrel version of Leslie Knope from Parks and Recreations. She’s very peppy and positive, an overachiever, and she even loves civil engagement because her dream job is working for local government. How did you approach Kiff and did you draw inspiration from any person, either fictional or real, for the role?

Kimiko Glenn: You know I feel like I drew inspiration just from the writing itself. It’s kind of there on the page. I love the fact that she is an overachiever, but not in an annoying way. It’s very genuine, earnest. She loves school. She loves her teachers. She just wants the best for everyone and she has the best intentions at heart. She is very, very passionate.

I think in a lot of ways I relate to Kiff in that way. I think a lot of people will relate to her as well. She was really a very easy one for me to slip into and I think she always brightens my day whenever I record Kiff.

AIPT: You’ve had numerous roles in TV and film but you’ve also had a theatrical career having worked on stage productions of Spring Awakening and Waitress. I was curious if you face any challenges for the singing portion of the series. You have to do it in Kiff’s voice but you still have to carry a tune along with the other technical aspects.

Glenn: Yeah, you know that’s a funny one because it does play into it. No one has ever asked be that before. With Kiff or with Baby Shark or with any of these animated characters that I play, when you sing, you do have to sing in their voice and do what makes sense for them as a character. I think sometimes it can be tricky. With Kiff, sometimes it behooves it all to be a little bit lower in key and then with Baby Shark, it actually sounds odd if it’s too low. It needs to be high because it’s an exuberant actual baby.

There is a little toying around with things that needs to happen in order for it to feel like the character itself. It’s more so, I don’t know if it’s a challenge for me, but the creatives have to adjust in the moment.

Kimiko Glenn, the voice of Kiff on Kiff. (Christian Hgstedt)
Kimiko Glenn, the voice of Kiff on Kiff. (Christian Hšgstedt)

AIPT: At the interactive screening and Q&A the previous night, you had mentioned that your ideal project would be a musical television series.

Glenn: Oh yeah!

AIPT: Does Kiff scratch that itch for you or were you thinking something more live action? Say, Hulu has the upcoming Up Here series coming too.

Glenn: Listen, I love animation. It really does scratch that itch of doing theater. You don’t get that immediate feedback, but personally, I don’t really need the immediate feedback. I’m the type of person where when I was doing theater, I loved doing it over and over every night because then you sort of get closer and closer to perfecting it.

But it’s never reaching perfection. You’re kind of mastering the character and what the character might do. Being able to do several takes of something in a row, you just sort of experiment with what that feels like for the character. I love it. But, yes. Musical series would be ideal because I can physically express myself. It’s a little different.

AIPT: One last follow up on the music of Kiff. Is there a song that you loved performing the most that you think will catch on with viewers this season? One you think is a straight banger and parents might need a break from because their kids are singing it too much.

Glenn: I don’t know. There are a lot of really fun songs in this series. “Thirst to be the First” is obviously just full throttle. Even with the animation you can see the intensity. It’s kind of a full song and there is a joke at the end.

Some of the songs are a lot shorter in this. It’s sort of a musical moment versus big songs. I believe there is a musical episode where they put on a musical that is pretty great…yeah.

KIFF - "Thirst to be the First" (Disney) KIFF, MARTIN
Photo: Disney

AIPT: Kiff is a buddy comedy and her best friend is the rabbit Barry played by H. Michael Croner. I’m not sure the process for voice recording for the show, but typically in animation these days, everyone records their parts separately and sometimes you never cross paths with your cast mates in person. Are there any difficulties in developing the chemistry between Kiff and Barry that appears on screen? Do you connect with Michael off screen to build that rapport?

Glenn: I wouldn’t say there is any difficulty. Our voice director Sam Riegel, and the creatives like Kent Osborne and Nick (Smal) and Lucy (Heavens), they have a very specific vision. They have a playfulness of the whole thing. I’m always amazed at the end of the day when we’re able to do our records isolated and without one another and it still feels like a genuine conversation.

We do occasionally get to do some ensemble records with just him and I, and those are really fun. Because then we get to play off each other. We get to read with one another, and he’s just so brilliant. He’s intimidatingly funny. But he’s the sweetest human being in the world. I really cherish those moments. I wouldn’t say there is difficulty.

AIPT: It’s also putting a lot of trust in the creatives to piece it together to make it seem so authentic and genuine.

Glenn: Yeah, yeah.

AIPT: We’ll leave off on this. What are you most excited for this first season of Kiff?

Glenn: I’m just excited for people to see it. I feel like we’ve been working on it for years. Two or three years. I could be wrong. It’s like two or three years, but it’s been a while. I’ve been really talking about it when people ask what I’m excited about, I’m like, there’s this animation I’ve been doing for Disney that’s so fun. It’s going to be so funny. I can’t wait see it. And I can’t wait for people to see it. For it to finally come out in general, I’m very excited for that.

AIPT: Just to finally get to see that final product.

Glenn: Yeah! Seeing the screeners, I was like, oh my gosh. This is better than I could have ever expected. Because of course, the scripts are so funny, but when you put the animation on top of it and the in between expressions, it’s more than I could ever hope for. It’s so funny. It’s so smart.

Kiff premieres Friday, March 10, on Disney Channel and Disney+ shortly after.

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