‘Toy Story 4’ Interview: How Ally Maki’s Giggle McDimples Brings Joy To Pixar’s Sequel Through Laughter and Inspiration
Monday, June 24th, 2019 at 11:00 am
Pixar’s Toy Story 4 may bring back some of the most beloved characters that we’ve cherished since 1995, but the latest installment adds a few new unforgettable characters that come in all shapes and sizes. One of them is the tiniest toy of the entire Toy Story family: Giggle McDimples is the pocket figure who happens to be an officer of Miniopolis’ Pet Patrol. But whenever she isn’t out on patrol, she can be seen perched on Bo Peep’s shoulder. And just as her surname suggests, she is full of infectious giggles and has an energy that simply cannot be contained.
Voiced by Ally Maki, Giggles will help Woody and Bo rescue Forky, who is being held captive by Gabby Gabby. But Giggles isn’t just some simple side supporting character. She has a fairly substantial role in the film. And a lot of that will show in her assertiveness and fearlessness, and also that contagious laughter that she has.
Geeks of Doom joined fellow journalists for a roundtable interview with Maki at Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, CA. There, she talked about what it was like to voice the pocket-sized toy, why she created Asian American Girls Club, and what she hopes Toy Story 4 can accomplish. Check out our roundtable chat with her here below.
The actress, who starred on the TBS TV comedy series Wrecked, said it didn’t take long for her to find the voice of Giggle McDimples because director Josh Cooly already wanted the character to be 100% her. So there was no need for her to add anything or tone it down, which made the entire experience easier. “They were like, “˜We just want you to be 100% you. For every Pixar movie, we go to great lengths to just cast the heart and soul and personality of the character,'” Maki said. “So already I just felt so free in that moment to just be myself and play and be different versions of her.”
Even though she was getting to voice a character that is a part of the Toy Story legacy, it still felt very surreal to her. At times she thought it was a prank that she was voicing a character in a franchise that she is a big fan of. “From day one I said, “˜This has got to be a prank. Something is going to go wrong along the way,’ because you know how these projects are, you never know if you are going to make to the final edit of the film,” Maki said.
Indeed, these films can take up to four to six years to make, and during that time, it is very likely that the iterations and storylines will change, which means characters may be added or removed. “I felt so incredibly lucky to even make it into the film and to be such an incredible new character within, that is mind-blowing,” Maki said.
At times, she found herself starstruck when she finally got to meet the rest of the voice cast during a press day for the film. “My hair and makeup team had to remind me halfway through the day like, “˜Hey Ally, you know you’re in the movie, right? You can be cool with that,'” Maki said. “I am like, “˜Yeah, I can, but like I can’t.’ How do you be like, “˜Hey, dude. How’ve you been?’ You can’t just do that. So I had to be like I had like won a contest like win a day in the life of being in the Toy Story family, and I am like “˜Oh, yeah, I guess I am in this movie.’ It was just a bananas moment.”
And she is a big fan, so much so that she believes it is becoming a bit of a problem. “I have a whole room full of it. It is actually getting to be a problem,” Maki said. “I wanted to ask some of the toy collectors about how do you guys organize it? How do you display it so it doesn’t look like it is just cluttered?”
While she joked about willingly paying full price for merchandise, the one thing that really caught her off guard was the fact that Giggles appears on Babybel cheese. “I’ll go into WalMart and buy the cheese. Honestly. That was what made me cry though, shockingly. It was when I saw her on Babybel cheese,” Maki said. “I was like, “˜Wait, what is happening, and why am I having a visceral emotional reaction to this?’ I don’t know why. Maybe we will dissect that sometime.”
However, the same cannot be said for the talking doll that gives a different reaction every time you tap her hat. “By the way, the doll is very shady,” Maki said. “We did another thing where we asked, “˜Hey, are you excited for Toy Story 4?’ And she goes, “˜Haha, not today.’ And we were like, ‘Let’s try it again,’ and she goes, “˜Uh, that’s a negative.’ And we were like, “˜Oh my gosh, you’re so shady right now. Stop. You need to chill.'”
To this day, the Maki cannot believe that she gets to be a part of the Toy Story family. “I don’t know if this is going to be good or bad for you guys, but I will be all over freaking out every single day,” Maki said. “To be the tiniest character in the Toy Story universe is really awesome.”
But it goes far beyond just voicing the tiniest character. “To be the first Asian American female within this universe is so incredible,” Maki said. “To be a woman of color in this universe is incredible. To be the new character in Toy Story 4, I mean it is just mind-blowing to me on every level.”
For her, it is almost as if she was destined for the role as she opened up about how each Toy Story film release align almost perfectly with her life. “I think I was nine in the first one, and then high school, and then college, and then four is me as an adult,” Maki said. “So it is really special.”
Maki describes Giggles as “100% authentically real and not afraid to be herself,” and that it is dynamic between herself and Bo Peep that really shines a light on the film’s themes of “female friendship and female strength.”
She then went into how she didn’t have a lot of friendships growing up, and how performing allowed her to come out of her shell to help her find the confidence to find and develop friendships and female friendships.
“Growing up, I was a very shy girl and performing was my outlet. So, friendship has been something I have always struggled with only because it is hard to make friends when you are really shy and insecure about who you are. So now, growing up and finding the confidence to find these friendships, especially female friendships.”
Toy Story 4 is the kind of film that Maki can stand behind. Not only because she is in it, but what the film ultimately represents as a whole to those who may feel like they do not have a voice or are marginalized.
“I think as someone who is an Asian-American female growing up, in a world where we didn’t have that many strong representations in TV and film and magazines, I think Toy Story resonated with me so much because these characters are without borders and barriers. You could see yourself in Rex. You could see yourself in RC. You can be Slinky Dog. You can be any of these characters. I think that is why it resonates so much with me. And I think that is why it resonates with a lot of people.”
I think what is so great about this film is we are able to give that to these young people at a much younger age where they don’t have to go through this. Of course, they are going to go through the up and down struggles of finding their personal identity, but, I think, for me, finding that my self worth mattered, just as a human, obviously as a woman of color, but as a woman of any race or any gender, it doesn’t matter. I think that has been the greatest lesson for me, I found a lot of confidence and a lot of identity through just being in this film. It is basically saying someone like you matters. Girls like you matter. I am excited for the next generation, because they are going to be 10-years-old, and they got their dolls and they are like, ‘I can be a police chief. Obviously! Why would you think I couldn’t be?!’ And I love that. It’s like, ‘Wow, where did you get your confidence?’ But that is what these characters do for them. It creates their new normal. It is their reality of ‘I am growing up in a world where women are police chiefs. Duh! Where women aren’t afraid to say what they want. Duh! Duh! Ally, why don’t you say how you feel.'”
In addition to using these characters as an outlet to help people be secure with who they are, she hopes Asian American Girl Club, an apparel company she founded, can help inspire and empower.
“Asian American Girl Club is where I found so much empowerment in using my voice because I feel like when you do have that sisterhood of that female connection, it fills a hole in your heart that nothing else can. So I think that is why it is so meaningful. Especially to see these strong female friendships on board. They don’t need each other but they do at the same time. I think that is why it is really special to me.”
And she is excited about the thought of entertainment having more diversity, inclusion, and representation across the board. Whether it is on film, behind the camera, or in a voice booth.
“I feel like we are all at a place where we are all finding these different representations of everybody which is exciting. I mean Asian Americans have had a momentous year and it has been very exciting to watch. That is a lot of why I created Asian American Girls Club. It was because I knew there were all these girls all over the country that were the only ones in their whole school or whole town that felt like they didn’t have anyone to reach out to, and I felt like this was the web I wanted to create to those lines to those girls and say, ‘I totally understand how you feel, and I resonate with your story just as much as mine.'”
Maki admits that it has been somewhat of a perilous journey to get where she is now, especially since she felt like she “boxed in” and lost her identity at a young age. “So much of my career has been trying to rebuild that and trying to find it,” Maki said.
So she does have a bit of advice for those who are trying to break into the industry,
I would say, 150% create your own content, because, and I’ve told this story before, but the only reason why I am in this film is because I woke up one day and said, ‘I have to make this skit.’ For no reason. And I made it on a Saturday, with no budget, my dog, my nephew, my fiancee’s little brother. And we went out in my neighborhood and made this thing that was just the way I viewed the world personally. I didn’t think it would resonate with anyone, it barely got any views. But one of the views was the head of casting at Pixar and that is 100% why I am in this film. And they said they use YouTube as a resource because they are trying to find the most authentically new stories and people, and variations of reality and how you see the world. So I would 100% say, make your own content because it really doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter if it gets five views or a 100 million views, if it even resonates with one person, then you know that you are moving things forward.
Toy Story 4 is out in theaters now. Check out our review here. And get to know who Giggle McDimples is in the clip below.
We also want to thanks the people at Walt Disney Studios for giving us the opportunity to be a part of this roundtable interview and Ally Maki for giving us the time to chat about Toy Story 4.