Variety published an extensive article about Nancy’s first episode of The Simpsons which has her own writer’s credit attached.
Nancy Cartwright has spent more than three decades immersed in the world of The Simpsons — first with “The Tracey Ullman Show” shorts, and then with the spinoff to its own franchise in 1989, as the voice of forever-10-year-old prankster Bart Simpson and a gaggle of other supporting characters. But it took Cartwright co-writing the 2017 independent film “In Search of Fellini,” which was loosely based on her own life, for the actress to consider penning an episode of the animated series.
“I never saw myself as a writer on the show, to be honest with you,” Cartwright tells Variety. “I wrote a book in 2000, [‘My Life as a 10-Year-Old Boy,’] but that was a memoir. To me, that was so easy to do, because that was my life. It’s not the same thing, with the structure of a three-act sitcom.”
But with “Fellini” under her belt, Cartwright decided to take the leap, and her episode, “Girl’s in the Band,” airs Mar. 31.
“I like the idea of challenging myself and getting out of my comfort zone,” she says. “Having been a voice, I’m trying things I’ve never done before as an artist, because I’ve got things to communicate. I’ve found in writing, I can do that. That’s what was the catalyst for writing this particular episode.”
In the episode, Lisa (voiced by Yeardley Smith) is recruited to join the Capitol City Philharmonic by a “Whiplash”-like conductor, played by guest star J.K. Simmons. But the trek to the neighboring town — and the costs associated with the group — takes its toll on everyone.
“The whole family gets involved with it, and there are a lot of sacrifices that are made to help her out,” Cartwright previews. “Any artist, I believe, you’re trying to communicate something. And in this case, with Lisa Simpson, if you watch the show, hopefully you will understand I’m trying to say there. What good is art if it doesn’t inspire people and make them feel good? That’s where I live. I want to make a difference.”
Here, Cartwright speaks with Variety about her experience in the writers’ room and how it’s reinvigorated her — on and off the series.
What led to penning an episode centered around Lisa, specifically?
This goes back to when I was a teenager: I was on the speech team back in Ohio and I would do these competitions. This was my background and playground of how to do voices. I would compete on the speech team, and I’d win; I’d win a lot. It was through the course of doing that, from the judges’ comments, [they said,] “You have an unusual voice. You should do cartoons for a living,” I realized, “Wow, I could actually do that.” It was really interesting. It never really occurred to me to do a show about Bart, because Lisa stood out. She is the middle child, she’s striving to be heard all of the time. She’s the voice of reason. To put her in a situation where she’s being artistically challenged, I thought that was something I could relate to. I took [my experience] and put it in the band room.