‘Daria’: You May Have Heard Tracy Grandstaff’s Voice Elsewhere

Animated sitcoms gained traction in the 1990s and continue to attract legions of fans. While some animated shows are simple, silly fun others, like Daria explore complex issues, creating an accessible platform that triggers important discussions. Daria was an animated sitcom that aired on MTV that did wonders to show girls that not only was it OK to be smart, but it was also OK to march to the beat of her own drummer.

Unlike many other animated programs, Daria wasn’t ditzy, a bombshell, or the kind of gal who changed herself to fit the expectations of others. Daria was content with herself.

Daria showed a viewership that her mind and her voice, which she borrowed from Tracy Grandstaff, were important commodities.

What is ‘Daria’?

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 If you’re in the mood for a show that involves a happy, bubbly character who believes that the world is a good place, Daria probably isn’t for you. On the other hand, if you like sarcasm and a biting commentary on life, you’ll love Daria.

The main character, Daria, first appeared on Beavis and Butthead. Fans fell in love with her dry wit. The response was so positive, a spin-off show was created around the character. There was also a Daria movie.

The interesting thing about Daria is that the characters owes her very existence to Judy McGrath, MTV’s president. While she liked the concept of Beavis and Butthead she felt it was important for the show to have at least one character who was intelligent and female. This proclamation inspired Mike Judge to create Daria.

The show provides a satirical look at teenage life. It’s a viewpoint some people feel everyone should familiarize themselves with.

“This is one of those shows that both adults and teenagers can really get a lot out of,” PHS_Togusa posted on Common Sense Media. “With all the vapid programming for teenagers permeating every corner of television these days (like 16 and Pregnant, Degrassi, and other such TV shows), Daria offers a different perspective on what life for a (junior) high school student is like.”

The look and voice of ‘Daria’

MTV channel logo
MTV channel logo | Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

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The fact that Daria looks and sounds like a real person lends gravity to the show that wouldn’t have been possible if the creative powers had gone with a more abstract look or voice. Mike Judge, Daria creator, turned to another sitcom, Roseanne, for inspiration. He wanted Daria to bear a strong resemblance, both in appearance and attitude, to Roseanne’s youngest daughter, Darlene.

Rumor has it that several artists presented ideas for Daria, but Judge wasn’t impressed until he saw John Garrett Andrews’ work. That first version was drawn on a paper plate. 

While Judge was thinking about Darlene Conner, Andrews had a different girl in mind when he first drew Daria. 

“It was a version somewhat inspired by my girlfriend senior year of high school, a smart but shy teenager with a sarcastic wit named Lindy Regan,” Andrews wrote in a Huffington Post article. “Having some underlying human inspiration for a character drawing I believe automatically makes the character more convincing.” 

Who is Tracy Grandstaff?

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 If you constantly get the nagging impression that you’ve heard Daria’s voice somewhere, you’re not wrong. Tracy Grandstaff’s lent her vocal cords to MTV’s Daily Upcoming Shows Calendar.

In addition to those projects, Grandstaff was also a cast member in The Real World pilot which was never aired. In addition to being a vocal actor, Grandstaff is also a writer. She worked as a writer in both The Tom Green Show and MTV’s On-Air Promo department.

According to Behind the Voice Actors, Grandstaff was also the voice of Mrs. Stevenson.