As the stars of the “UglyDolls” musical get prepped for their May 3, 2019, premiere, they’re doing the omnipresent press junkets. All around the country, the different voice actors are sending out texts, appearing on podcasts and interview shows, answering e-mailed queries about what it means to be an animated role model. Kelly Clarkson, who has the starring role as Moxy, is truly one committed cartoon character. In fact, she doesn’t see her Moxy part as “cartoony at all.”
In a series of interviews granted to magazine writers and bloggers — thank you, “Doll Chronicles” — Kelly discussed how she considers Moxy to be an extension of herself: “Moxy could not be more perfect for me! Because I’m really not that kind of a Princess Girl. I’m really this girl. Moxy’s personality is 100 percent me. It is so weird. It’s not acting. It’s almost as if she has been written specifically for me!”
When Kelly Clarkson discovered exactly what her doll doppelganger would look like, she was a tad taken aback. “I knew she wouldn’t be a beauty like Belle or Cinderella, but I was sort of surprised by her … prominent teeth, I guess I’d say!” Then Kelly looks on the bright side and finds a positive compliment about her doll counterpart. “She is totally pink! Moxy is pink perfection. If you like pink, you’ll love her! She is pink and she is powerful!”
Making a name for herself as an award-winning singer and songwriter, Clarkson knew she had the grit and gumption to co-star in a Hollywood film. After she won “American Idol” back in 2002 — can you believe it was 17 years ago — she jumped into a movie role. “Yes, I was in ‘From Justin to Kelly’ back in 2003, and I feel a bit embarrassed by that whole experience. I was getting my feet wet back then, and didn’t know any better. It was me testing the water. It’s just odd that that movie was like an audition for me, but it was an actual film for people to go and see! Hollywood can be a weird scene.”
Having been the lead in a teen-romance musical, which went on to win notoriety as “one of the worst movies ever made,” Clarkson figured that animation was a safer haven. “I’m a mother now, and I see how much animated movies mean to my kids,” she said. “When I saw what the ‘UglyDolls’ story was about, I bawled. I admit it, I cried. The movie has heart. It has a great cast and it’s got great music. It is so cute, but it is also has meaning to me as a parent and as a person who ‘grew up’ in front of the world.”
When Kelly Clarkson won “American Idol,” she was 20 years old and was “naïve enough” to think that everyone was looking out for her best interests. That meant Clarkson went along with suggestions about changing her hair, her weight, her makeup, and even her voice. Her handlers had one idea about who she was supposed to be; Kelly had another. The “UglyDolls” movie resonates with her because it deals with characters accepting their shortcomings and imperfections.
“The movie is a giant metaphor for life. We all come in different sizes, shapes, and personalities. We all have our own individuality,” Clarkson said. The film’s director, Kelly Asbury, encouraged Clarkson to let her own personality seep into the character of Moxy. “Kelly is a great guy. He told me to hold nothing back. He said to me that I should let my ‘freak flag’ fly! And I did,” Clarkson shared.
“Moxy really did evolve into me. She’s very positive, and we’re very similar,” Kelly said. “Kelly the director encouraged me to feel comfortable in the recording sessions, and I opened up and improvised. Toward the end, I’m not even acting there. It’s all me. I would turn to everyone and say, ‘Can we just make her more like me?’”
The premise of “UglyDolls” involves personal self-worth and living life as one sees fit. “The tag of the movie is ‘Perfection Can Stuff It,’ and that is so true. None of us is perfect, and that’s a great lesson to teach ourselves and our kids.”
The mom of a son and daughter, as well as a stepmom to two children from her husband’s first marriage, Clarkson understands the impact that a doll and a film can have on a child. Her daughter, River Rose, appears alongside her mother in the “UglyDolls” music video for “Broken and Beautiful.”
“The song is one of the best experiences I’ve ever had,” Kelly stated. “It’s one of my most favorite things I’ve ever been able to record. I’m a huge Pink fan, and I love that she wrote this track. There couldn’t have been a more perfect song written for the whole theme of this movie.”
When Kelly Clarkson’s character Moxy travels from her hometown to the neighboring village of Perfection, the little pink UglyDoll discovers that everyone is different, and some people don’t appreciate that. “Nick Jonas plays the villain in this movie, which is 180 degrees opposite of who he is in real life,” Kelly explained. “His character, Lou, is the very image of perfection and he trains the citizens of Perfection to become the dolls that supposedly every little girl dreams of owning. If you learn these prescribed doll ways, then you can graduate to the human world and find a child’s love.”
Clarkson acknowledges that her Moxy doll is not a traditionally adorable one. The doll has quirks and eccentricities. However, Moxy’s bizarre traits have endeared her to Kelly Clarkson. “In many ways, Moxy is a clear picture of who I am on the inside. I admit I dreamed of doing a big animated movie with me singing for the heroine. I never would have thought she’d look like Moxy. Now I’m glad this is my first big role. I love her so much.”
Happy to be a cheerleader for the “UglyDolls” film, Kelly Clarkson points out that the lyrics to “Broken and Beautiful” speak to her and to millions of other folks around the world: “I know I’m superwoman. I know I’m strong. I know I’ve got this because I’ve had it all along. I’m phenomenal. I’m enough. I don’t need you to tell me who to be.”
If Kelly Clarkson regrets anything about her “UglyDolls” involvement, she wishes she could have been more involved. “I didn’t have the time to provide a soundtrack for this movie. Honestly, I know when I’m spread too thin. I told producers that I would love to find amazing songwriters, and then be able to click with a song,” Kelly admitted. “I did just that with ‘Broken and Beautiful.’ It impacted me. Hopefully, it does that to you, too!”