At just 13 years old, Clara Young has built an impressive acting resume. It includes playing scene-stealer Cindy Lou Who in the national tour of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” and voicing a character in “My Life as A Zucchini,” which was nominated for an Oscar this year in the best animated feature film category. Since the film hails from Switzerland, Young did the voice-over work for orphan Alice in the English version, alongside actors Will Forte, Nick Offerman, Ellen Page and Amy Sedaris. It will celebrate its English premiere at the New York International Children’s Film Festival on February 24.
“It’s just really cool to do all these different voices because since I was little, I could do all these funny things with my voice and now it actually helps me,” she said of her voice-over skills. The starlet explained she’s always loved the aspect of “putting yourself in somebody else’s shoes” as an actor. That talent is certainly in her genes — her mother Carla is an actor and comedian, and sister Violet, 11, also acts. In fact, the sisters will share the stage in the upcoming production of “13: The Musical” at the Actors Temple Theatre next month.
As for her future plans, the triple threat — she can sing and dance as well — has her heart set on Broadway. When asked what her dream role would be, she replied, without hesitation, “one of the Schuyler sisters in ‘Hamilton.’”
What was your first acting job?The national tour of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” and I played Cindy Lou Who when I was 8. And it was really fun because I got to tour around everywhere and I hadn’t been that many places because I was little.
Did you like acting right away?Yeah, I’ve always really liked acting and just putting yourself in somebody else’s shoes. And it’s just always been really fun for me to do and I’ve just always really had a love for it.
How do you balance school with your job?Well, I try to keep up with my school work as much as I can. But for voice-over, usually it’s pretty easy because it doesn’t take as long. And I just try to stay focused on my school work as much as I can too. And what I really do is make sure that I use my time well and use time management.
What is voice-over work like?So basically you go in a booth and have this microphone and you put on headphones. Voice-over itself is when you are doing the voice of a character, so animation or Claymation. “My Life as a Zucchini,” for example. All you have to do is say the lines that are in front of you on paper and they can do all the techy stuff and put the character to it.
So you didn’t change your voice at all?Well, for “My Life as a Zucchini,” I talked in my lower register, but I can also talk really high. Because for voice-over, I started doing books for ESL, which is English as a Second Language. And I did “Pinkalicious,” which is a really high voice.
What do your friends think about what you do outside of school?They’re really happy for me. They’re very supportive and really excited about what I do. And they’re just always there for me.
You’re working with your sister on “13: The Musical.” What are the good and bad parts about working with her?The good part is that we get to go over stuff together. It’s just really fun being in the room with her. And I love her a lot so that always helps. For me, I don’t really think that there’s anything bad about working with my sister. I think it’s better that we work together because we’re better together than we are alone. I just really love her and it’s really good to work things out together.
What is the rehearsal schedule for that musical like?The rehearsal is spread out, for the most part. So we usually have rehearsal on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, and sometimes during the week too. We usually have about six to eight hours of rehearsal, so it’s pretty long, but it’s worth it.
Your mom is a comedian. Do you go to her shows?Well, I haven’t really gone to her shows. Most of them aren’t inappropriate or anything, but it’s just mostly I can’t go to her shows because of the place she’s doing them at. If they have a bar, then they won’t let younger kids in. She’s really funny. She jokes around a lot at home. She cheers me up when I’m in a bad mood. What’s a funny story from your career so far?
Something went wrong in “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” My costume had a really big bow in the back that always dragged on the floor a little bit because I was really short at the time. It had these little buttons that unclip and clip like on a jacket. So I was doing the choreography because it’s this big dance number. And we have to go on the floor for one part, and then we stand back up. And as I was standing up, I stood on the bow because it was dragging on the floor. The bow itself came off and it was on stage. But then one of the people, while dancing, just kicked it off to the side.
Any other memorable on-stage stories?Oh yeah, I have another story. It was the same show. So we had to skip off stage at one part and they kept telling us to look at the audience because we had to smile of course. So I was skipping off stage and there was this mirror, and backstage was really small. So it was this huge mirror that was on the side of the stage, backstage in the wings. And as I skipping off, I ran right into it and hit my lip. So then my lip started bleeding and it was in the middle of the show. And I got all puffy. And I said, “I have to keep going.” [Laughs] Because I was really excited and I was like, “I can’t stop,” even though I was on the verge of crying. So then I went back on stage and it was OK.
What are your future plans?For my future, I want to continue doing voice-over because I find it really fun. So I’m definitely going to continue doing voice-overs. And when I get older, I want to be on Broadway because for average height kids, it’s hard to be on Broadway because they are always looking for short people. So I’ve never really been that short, so I really want to be on Broadway when I’m older. I think as an adult it will be much easier to do that.