Candi Milo, Voiceover Actress-Author-Episode #219

Sep 27, 2022 | 0 comments

Candi Milo is the busiest actress in voiceovers today. Among her numerous accomplishments, she was honored to take the mantle of the voice of Granny in all Warner Brothers Animation projects after the passing of the legendary voice talent, June Foray. For example, you heard Candi as Granny in Space Jam 2: A New Legacy with LeBron James, and also in various Looney Tunes cartoons.

She’s well-known for voicing Dexter in Dexter’s Laboratory, The Flea in Mucha Lucha, Coco and Cheese in Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends, and literally thousands of other well-known characters. Candi may well be the voice of your childhood. She also happens to be an Annie Award nominee.

Not only has Candi performed voiceover work in countless film and TV projects, you may have seen in her any number of on-camera commercials.


Candi starred with Jennifer Holliday in the first touring production of Dreamgirls, directed by none other than the renowned, Michael Bennett.


Candi has published a dark comedy memoir, Surviving the Odd, which offers a glimpse into her wildly inappropriate childhood as seen through the eyes of a 7-year-old who unravels the story of how her once prominent-but-now-fading comedian/singer father, Tony, left show business in 1968 to open one of the first board and care homes in California – Milo Arms – to care for and shelter developmentally disabled and emotionally disturbed adults.

I’ve read Surviving the Odd, and I can tell you it’s a beautifully written, intense and harrowing tale, but told with incredible heart and a lot of funny stuff, too.


Candi has performed as a singer, stand-up comic, and starred in her one-person nightclub show across the country. She also gives inspirational talks about her unusual childhood and how it informed her life as an actor, mother, and passionate advocate for people dealing with mental illness and homelessness. Much like her father, Candi also gives voice to the homeless because too many people pretend not to see them on the street.

For the record, Candi has lent her extraordinary voice talent to a few scripts that Steve has written – including playing Zadavia in the Warner Bros. cartoon, Loonatics Unleashed.




Read the Podcast Transcript

Steve Cuden: On today’s StoryBeat…

Candi Milo: The script has the job. You could go tomorrow, and they’ll get another voice actor. But they’ve put money behind the script. The script has the job. The writer’s sitting there. He’s on the team that pays. He’s on the production team. Get in there and do right by the script. Because that had been drilled into my head, I will always make the writing supreme.

Narrator: This is StoryBeat with Steve Cuden, a podcast for the creative mind. StoryBeat explores how masters of creativity develop and produce brilliant works that people everywhere love and admire. So join us as we discover how talented creators find success in the worlds of imagination and entertainment. Here now is your host, Steve Cuden.

Steve Cuden: Thanks for joining us on StoryBeat. We’re coming to you from the Steel City, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. My guest today, Candi Milo, is the busiest actress in voiceovers today. Among her numerous accomplishments, she was honored to take the mantle of the voice of Granny in All Warner Brothers animation projects after the passing of the legendary voice talent June Foray. For example, you heard Candi as Granny in Space Jam Two, a new legacy with LeBron James, and also in various Looney Tune’s cartoons. She’s well-known for voicing Dexter in Dexter’s laboratory, the flea in Mucha Lucha, Cocoa and Cheese in Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends and literally thousands of other well-known characters. She may well be the voice of your childhood. She also happens to be an Annie Award nominee. Not only has Candi performed voiceover work in countless film and TV projects, you may have seen her in any number of on-camera commercials. On stage, she starred with Jennifer Holiday in the first touring production of Dreamgirls directed by none other than the renowned Michael Bennett. Candi has published a dark comedy memoir Surviving the Odd, which offers a glimpse into her wildly inappropriate childhood, as seen through the eyes of a 7-year-old who unravels the story of how her once prominent but now fading comedian singer, father, Tony left show business in 1968 to open one of the first boarding care homes in California, Milo Arms to care for and shelter developmentally disabled and emotionally disturbed adults. I’ve read Surviving the Odd, and I can tell you it’s a beautifully written, intense and harrowing tale, but told with incredible heart and a lot of funny stuff too. We’ll be hearing more about Surviving the Odds shortly. Candi has performed as a singer standup comic and starred in her one-person nightclub show across the country. She also gives inspirational talks about her unusual childhood and how it informed her life as an actor, mother, and passionate advocate for people dealing with mental illness and homelessness. Much like her father, Candi also gives voice to the homeless because too many people pretend not to see them on the street. For the record, Candi has lent her extraordinary voice talent to a few scripts that I’ve written, including playing Zadavia in the Warner Brothers Cartoon Lunatics Unleashed. So for all those reasons and many more, it’s my tremendous honor and a truly great pleasure to be joined today on StoryBeat by the brilliant multi-talented Candi Milo. Candi, welcome to the show.

Candi Milo: Thank you, Steve. Gosh, that was so nice. I was like, goodness, I feel like I’m popular.

Steve Cuden: Well, we’ve covered everything and thank you for coming on the show. We’ll see you later. Bye-Bye.

Candi Milo: Yeah. Bye-Bye now. Thanks for coming.

Steve Cuden: Alright. Let’s go back in time and history in your life and tell us where the bug to be a performer first hit you. We know your father was a performer. Was that your inspiration?

Candi Milo: It actually was. I was in the audience. I always like to say if anybody’s seen the film Mr. Saturday Night, that was my dad. He was kind of a put down comic and a singer with a ton of kids. There were five of us. He was performing at the San Francisco Shriners, and I was in the audience. I think I was three, four, not even yet five. He was introducing everybody, and he went down, and he looked at me and he said, where’s Candi? I had walked up the stairs to get on the stage. He said, what are you doing? My mom said that I said, I want to perform. My dad said, what would you like to do? I said, I want to hoof. We sang Me and My Shadow. Of course we got a lot of applause because my dad made it out to be, here’s this little kid. I want to strangle her because she’s stealing all my thunder, but this is fabulous. Then he shooed me off and I guess I just kept bowing and bowing and he was shoving me off. I turn around and bow, and the audience went crazy, and I was hooked. It was like it was injected into my veins. Honest to God.

Steve Cuden: You had ham in your blood?

Candi Milo: Yes. The largest ham bone on the planet.

Steve Cuden: So did you then train for it?

Candi Milo: You couldn’t do that around my dad because my dad at that time knew what show business was for him. For him it meant it was a dirty business for women. So he didn’t want me to do this. I was a really bright and precocious kid. It turns out, as time went on, I skipped grades. I was incredibly bright, much like Corleone. He wanted me to be a lawyer and do that kind of thing. So everything that I learned, I learned on my own. I taught myself to play piano. I taught myself to read music. I taught myself to sing because I didn’t have a lot of support. But growing up in San Jose, California, I did San Jose Children’s Music Theater, and I did shows and performances wherever I could. I graduated high school at 17 and went to college locally, which I hated. I wanted to go away.

Steve Cuden: That’s because you have so much to give and so many gifts that college was holding you back probably.

Candi Milo: Well, my dad said the only way he’d pay for college is if I was pre-law. So I went to the University of Santa Clara Pre-Law. At that time I was the youngest declared pre-law in Santa Clara University. I don’t know if it still is, but it was pre-eminent. It was the law school of all law schools. I was pre-Law. Then I think the next year or the next semester, they let this guy that was 12 or 13, and he had skipped a million grades. I was like, ah, to the gods.

Steve Cuden: Was his name Doogie?

Candi Milo: Yeah, probably. But it was so funny because it was like, I’m upstaged by a child. Exactly. Probably what my dad thought as I was like doing Me and My Shadow.

Steve Cuden: So you obviously abandoned that and went into being a performer, right?

Candi Milo: Yeah, I sang for Disney in Florida. I was an all-American college player, but I had auditioned for them when I was too young. You had to be 18 to work in the park and I was 17. So they said, go to college, become a thing, and we’re going to hire you for the college program. I was at Santa Clara. I sang that summer. I think that was the summer of ‘79. Yeah. Because I would be 18, the summer of ‘79. They all said, we don’t know why you’re in college, but you should… All the producers were like, you have a picture that I sent you with me with the Disney thing on. One of the producers had found me and said, and I learned Bette Midler’s Up the Ladder to the Roof. That’s what I was performing in the park outside of our regular skits and stuff we were doing as players. We were like Saturday Night Live. We did sketches in the park. I came back and I said to my dad, I’m done. I’m out of school. I’m done. He said, I’ll tell you what. You can stay out of school, this is ‘79-80, if you make $20,000 a year as a performer.

Steve Cuden: Wow.

Candi Milo: The day you earn less than that, you go back to school. We shook hands. I have never earned less than $20,000 in my life as a performer.

Steve Cuden: That’s impressive. Did you know at that time that you were talented? Did you feel that?

Candi Milo: I don’t know. Honestly, what an odd thing. I have gone through my entire life bursting into rooms and bursting onto the scenes and bursting in probably because of how I grew up. Bursting in and saying, don’t overlook me. Don’t judge me by what you see. Let me show you. Because I’m little and I have this gigantic Broadway voice, I knew that I could wow them, but I didn’t know if I could entertain them. I knew I could blow them away and they’d be like, how does that sound come out of that little, tiny body? I’d be like, yes, but I can’t stay on key, and I can’t sing harmony. However, I’m adorable and I’m loud.

Steve Cuden: When you look in the dictionary under the word energy it has your picture,

Candi Milo: True.

Steve Cuden: You’re definitely full of character and characters.

Candi Milo: Yes.

Steve Cuden: Who was or who were your early influences aside from your dad? Who did you look up to?

Candi Milo: I loved Bette Midler, just so you know. My dad was friends with the owners of Pinocchio’s in San Francisco. Bette would come into town to do her shows at all the big hotels. I’m trying to think of the year, and I can’t, because I don’t want to box myself in with the wrong year. But I know I was severely underage and we went to watch a rehearsal of hers at Pinocchio’s. I was madly in love with that.

Steve Cuden: Wow.

Candi Milo: All I wanted to be was a comedian slash doing characters slash singing my guts out. That’s what I wanted to do. So she was really an early influence. Martha Ray was another huge influence of mine. Believe it or not, I know this sounds so weird, but the art of timing and understatement was Art Linkletter.

Steve Cuden: Art Linkletter.

Candi Milo: Yeah. Because I would watch that, Kids Say the Darndest Things, and I would watch how he would let the kids in a very funny way, hang themselves. He’d pause and it was all for effect. He’d look at the camera and I thought that guy is genius. I’ve always done this in my comedy. Wait for the quiet. People are like, you are on stage, and nobody could touch you. We love you the most. I say, no, man. I’m the only one you hear because I’m waiting. As soon as everybody’s quiet, I say what I’m going to say, and you hear me clearly. Those are my influences. Then as a writer, Carrie Fisher. Voices would be Frank Weir, Mel Blank. One of my favorite female voiceover actresses was Rusty Taylor who’s no longer with us. I mean, just could do it all. I am a bigger fan than I am a performer. I’m always in awe and I learn so much by watching.

Steve Cuden: Well, you obviously have done your homework because you have—

Candi Milo: I have.

Steve Cuden: All of those things are part and parcel of what you do.

Candi Milo: Thank you.

Steve Cuden: Certainly I think the more unusual thing that you said is that your comedic timing comes from Martin Linkletter.

Candi Milo: From Martin Linkletter.

Steve Cuden: I think you’re the first person to ever say that to me, is that your comedic timing came from Martin Linkletter. I find that fascinating.

Candi Milo: Living in San Jose, which is northern California in the south of the San Francisco Bay area. I would go all the time to San Francisco to catch Robin Williams. My next book is going to be about how Bill Graham Presents completely changed my life. Bill Graham was a huge promoter of rock and roll. I just finished his biography, which was autobiography, which was mind blowing. I would go and catch all of his shows and watch his stuff. Whenever I would see a comedy show, I would get a headache because they were all on stage screaming at the same time. Improv you could never hear.

The one who was in the clear every time was Robin Williams. Every time. But I knew that he got it from Martin Linkletter. I knew. I was like, I know how you got that. Watching him was like somebody watching how to jump in on a jump rope that he would wait, and he would wait. All you needed was a sliver of silence. John Belushi did the same thing. Lorraine Newman did the same thing. Gilda Radner. They waited for that quiet, and then they slipped in.

Steve Cuden: Do you think that someone can learn that? Or do you think that that has to be somewhat innate?

Candi Milo: Being funny, I really believe is innate. I think you have to find what your funny is. What’s it about you? You have to be able to take a joke as well as tell one because that will shape how others perceive you. What is funny about you. But I do think that I would encourage everybody who is a comedy writer, anybody who’s thinking about doing comedy to go out and watch other people do comedy. There’s a brilliant comedian, Carrie Snow, and she never talked above this. Her entire act was like this. You found yourself listening intently. She was always about the drop-dead punchline. Just when you think the joke was funny and you were tittering and you’d go, nah, it wasn’t very good. She dropped the punchline and then you would roar. She’s brilliant. I never enjoyed myself as a standup. Never liked it. Didn’t like the room. Didn’t like the company. I said, it was a room of miserable people whose goal was to make you miserable and then steal your act while you were on stage. I never dug it. I found my footing by just moving through show business, different venues and different disciplines and show business. Water seeks its own level. I just would move on and find it. My one-woman show, I don’t know how sassy I can get. But it’s called If She Taps, You’re Fucked. Which is a story, of course, in my book, which is a true story. It was like a Bette Midler homage. It was standup in characters and singing. I think that was the best fit for me. Then cartoons where we do it all.

Steve Cuden: I would say, and you would agree, that you’ve definitely found your niche.

Candi Milo: I think so.

Steve Cuden: I think so. In fact, let’s talk about your niche. Let’s talk for a moment about voiceover acting.

Candi Milo: Yeah.

Steve Cuden: There must be at least a thousand people in your head. At least.

Candi Milo: At least a thousand people.

Steve Cuden: So where do they all come from?

Candi Milo: I like to say that they fight. These are little reasons I live alone, folks. They fight for supremacy. They’re always there. I find that I watch TV. I forget what I was watching the other night, and I cracked myself up because they had a scene that was written. I can’t think of what it was. It was so poorly written that I literally said out loud, oh no. They were supposed to be in peril. I find that I was absorbing this one character just by the fact that nothing that she said was good. I was like, who writes this? This should be in a sketch. Then I realized, oh, she’s this character that I did in this animated series. I think that they come from keen observation.

Steve Cuden: Clearly you have to have the writing first, right?

Candi Milo: Yeah. The writing is key. I don’t go off book, just so you know Steve. If you wrote it, I will say what you wrote.

Steve Cuden: There you go.

Candi Milo: When I audition, when we were doing it in person. When I got a call back, I would preface if the writer was in the room by saying, man, I’m just tap dancing for a job. So I’m going to do what you wrote, and I’m going to do what you wrote again, and then I want to show you the rest of this guy’s day. I want to show you how he is, or she is in my head, and that I can give you how they would react in any situation. We’re just not doing that anymore. It’s why a lot of shows I feel are only getting one or two seasons, because you’ve just got a bunch of squeaky voices, people doing that, and then people doing that. The writing only rises to who they get. I think, you’ve got somebody like Lauren Faust, who’s a brilliant writer married to Craig McCracken, who created Powerpuff Girls, and she was My Little Pony. They had a husband-and-wife team, and they came together on Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends, which was one of the most brilliant shows I’ve ever worked on. I would read a script that looked like a movie script. We didn’t get boards for Foster. We got a movie script. I would wait until my daughter went to bed. I was a single parent. I wait for my daughter to go to bed and sit with a glass of wine and underline and read and laugh so hard I cried. Because it was so well written that I never ad-libbed. I never went off book ever. Now when I audition, I do get writing that is absolutely still really great stuff. But you have to know that after 38 years, I have literally seen it all and read it all. You’re trying to make a different voice and you’re trying to do a different character. It doesn’t matter what they draw. It’s all in the writing.

Steve Cuden: I agree. I will tell you. I’ve got about 90 teleplay credits, almost all of it in animation. I will tell you the one thing about animation, voiceover actors, specifically in the world of animation. No matter whether it was great or not, no matter what I wrote, if the actors were any good at all, they always took it to a whole other level. Always.

Candi Milo: Yeah. It is really, yes and I see you, Steve. I see what you wrote. I dig it. I get it. And here you go. Here’s the rest of their day. Here’s the way they deliver this so that the next person’s line makes sense.

Steve Cuden: I’ve talked to many writers who agree with me about this. No matter what’s in your head, sometimes it gets sent to overseas voiceover actors and they don’t understand the rhythm and timing of America’s idioms and how we speak. But if it’s LA or sometimes New York, but mostly LA, if it’s in LA, there is a kind of a rhythm and a timing that the voiceover actors have that just takes whatever you’ve written, and it just gets tweaked into a whole better level.

Candi Milo: Yeah. I think it’s because we have writers and producers and showrunners who are all on our side. They all get what we do. They know we’re not interested in having our names listed as writers. We don’t want that credit. What we’re trying to do is make you who wrote it laugh. I’m trying to make you laugh. I’m trying to say, watch this stupid voice. Watch this character that popped out of my head. This is what they sound like. And they totally agree with what you wrote. And we’re going to take it up a notch.

Steve Cuden: I can tell you, when I had the privilege to be in the studio when you folks were recording. If I walked out of there and my face hurt, I knew it was a good session.

Candi Milo: Right.

Steve Cuden: If my face hurt, because I was smiling the whole time. It was like, oh, wow.

Candi Milo: I think of the people, Jeff Glenn Bennett, and now there’s Eric Bowser and Bob Bergen and—

Steve Cuden: Mo LaMarche.

Candi Milo: Mo LaMarche and—

Steve Cuden: Rob Paulsen.

Candi Milo: And Rob Paulsen and Tress MacNeille and Tara Strong. I was like, I’ve worked with Dee Bradley Baker, Tom Kenny. I mean, all these people that I have known since we were all in our twenties. We have grown up in this era that was just after the Jay Ward and just when Hannah Barbero went to Warner Brothers. Just when that was all happening is when I walked in the room. My furry first audition was for Tiny Tunes. My agency at the time was William Morris. We were in a closet with the guy running reel to reel tape, putting his hands up to his mouth, going shshsh and pointing. Then you would go. I remember getting a callback, and my callback was at Hannah Barbera. The Flint Mobile was in the roof, and I was like, oh, this is really great. Also, I don’t want to do this. I don’t want to do cartoons. My thought was, this is where actors go to die because I’d never heard of any cartoon people. I didn’t know their names except Mel Blank. I didn’t know June’s name. I was 25 years old. I came out of singing. I had just gotten off the road in a rock and roll movie called Reaching for the Stars, which was the very first reality TV show besides the Loud Family. We were like the hottest thing. ABC and Dick Clark did this. I walked in a room and there’s Steven Spielberg and I’m doing my thing. They wanted me to read a fairy tale. So I did my things. I said I’m just going to do the Three Little Pigs. I made the Wolf Kosher and the three little pigs, suicidal. I told the story of the Three Little Pigs, and I walked out. I did three different voices for the three little pigs and the wolf. Then I came out and Steven Spielberg put his head out and went, you are very good at this. You should do this. In true Candi Milo fashion ending my career, I said, do people tell you look like Steven Spielberg? He looked at me and he went, yes, and then closed the door and went back in. Rather than saying, oh my God, Steven, thank you. But I did end up getting that, and a couple other roles on there. There’s a freedom that comes from the storytelling and the writing. That’s another aspect of the writing, is how good is the storytelling.

Steve Cuden: Absolutely.

Candi Milo: Then we as voice actors are not doing stupid voices. We’re telling your story. That’s what our job is.

Steve Cuden: Do you work with your voice every day in some way? Do you exercise your voice every day?

Candi Milo: Yes.

Steve Cuden: How so?

Candi Milo: I do. Because I was a singer for so many years, I have a vocal coach and every six months I get brand new warmup tapes. As my voice changes, as I get a little bit older, it drops down. But you kind of want to keep that range. I do a 15-minute warmup every single day in the shower, in the car, wherever I am. Then I just bought this thing called The Breather. It is to build power in my lungs. I unfortunately contracted Covid last month and I wanted to make sure that it didn’t impact my breath control. Because literally how you do an old woman is that you keep having her run out of breath. I was like, oh God, I want to do one. I don’t want to be one. So I do that for 15 minutes every day. I can do that while I’m making dinner. I blow into this tube, which forces your lungs to get tougher, which I appreciate. So yeah, I do. I work on my voice, and I do try to sing a song out of my register usually too high, every single day to see—

Steve Cuden: That forces your voice to keep high then.

Candi Milo: Yeah. It forces it out of your neck and your throat. The more that you get comfortable singing out of your range and you work on placing your voice, the less you’ll use your shoulders and scrunch it up, or you’ll belt, or you’ll growl. The less you’ll use gimmicks. That helps me. I’m looking in my little booth now. I have pages to audition for a show, and they’re all little girls, which is the hardest thing to do on the planet is the voice of little girls. because it exhausts me. It just exhausts me.

Steve Cuden: What would you prefer to play? Little boys?

Candi Milo: Little boys. Little boys and now old ladies because there’s no vocal fry. There’s no heavy screaming or something. They say, you’re going to do this video game, you’re going to scream like an old lady. Here it is. Ah, dead. Dead.

Steve Cuden: When you go into the studio to do recording, do you do some special preparation before you go into the studio?

Candi Milo: I do something that a lot of my friends don’t. I read the script.

Steve Cuden: Oh gee.

Candi Milo: I got to tell you. A lot of people don’t. A lot of people believe they are funny enough to wing it and they don’t make choices. I like to say that I plan out all of my ad libs and I never use them unless it’s all not going very well. Then I’ll be like, hey, do you know what I thought was funny? What if I said this or I did that? I do read. I will tell you that I write. These days, I always mask up. I mean, that’s the only thing I do differently, and I bring my own script from home. I try not to touch the papers of anything in a row.

Steve Cuden: Well, good. Alright. So in terms of the script, when you get it, you get it in advance, obviously. They don’t hand it to you when you walk in the door. You have it in advance. What do you do aside from reading it? You get it. You read it. What is your preparation of that script? What kind of work do you do to it?

Candi Milo: So the first thing that I do is I read every single thing on every single page. That’s my first read through. I don’t concentrate on my part. I read every single thing. Then I make a note of when I come in by putting an asterisk by my first line. Then I see what page number it’s on, because it’ll tell me where I am in the act and where I’m coming in, which will also tell me how much bravado I need to enter. It’ll tell me who I basically am. Then I go back, and I read three times in a row, all of the stage direction. Because I think the glory in any character is the line 122A, the grunt run fall. You’d be surprised how many people I work with that have prepared all their lines, but they don’t know the story. So I read it once, all the way through. Then I read to see where my first line is. Then I read three times, all of the stage direction.

Steve Cuden: Alone. No dialogue. Just the stage direction.

Candi Milo: Just read it. Then I read the entire script out loud. Everybody’s part. Because if I can hear in my mind how I think the bunny is going to do this line, and I’m a wart hog. If I can hear in my mind and say the bunny’s lines, all of a sudden, I know it all makes sense to me. That’s my process. Then I go through the last time. It’s like six or seven times that I’ve read it and I highlight my lines. Then in the stage direction I highlight anything. I can’t tell you how many times when they’ve gone, thank you Candi, you’re done. I’ll go, hey, you guys, on page 11, there was this thing. Do you want a vocalization or are you going to do an SFX? You’re going to do a sound effect? They were like, oh my God, we missed it. Thank you. Oh my God.

Steve Cuden: So let’s stop there for a moment. For the listeners that don’t know what you’re talking about, you said grunt run fall. That’s inside baseball. Tell us what grunt run fall is. Now, we don’t write it every time that way. The character will actually make vocal sounds.

Candi Milo: Right. Vocalizations. Folks, they’re never in the dialogue portion of the script. They’re always in the story above. Let’s just say Granny runs into her office looking around frantically. Tasmanian devil comes in, slams the door, granny jumps and runs out. So that would sound like, hehehe, oh dear, oh dear. Oh, ah-ah-ah-ah. So I come in, ha-ha-ha, breathless out of shape. I’m startled, ah. Then I run out the door, ah-ah-ah. That is in the stage direction.

Steve Cuden: Not in the dialogue.

Candi Milo: Not in the dialogue. Then the dialogue might be something like that happens right after that. But there are oftentimes when you have a crowd where everybody’s cheering, and you have to ask yourself by reading the script and knowing that you are in that crowd. Now they may want you to pick up Walla, and Walla is just an outside crowd where you’re doing, pea and carrots, pea and carrots, visa-visa-visa.

Steve Cuden: People are saying, Walla-walla-walla-walla.

Candi Milo: Right. Or they’re cheering or booing. You need to ask, well, am I cheering as granny or am I just a towns person? Am I screaming as granny or am I screaming? That you can only know if you read. You can only know if you read.

Steve Cuden: You’re saying it’s helpful to prepare.

Candi Milo: Just saying, pretend you like getting the money and you really like your job. I’m not just saying that because I’m here. I will always honor the writer. That’s my job.

Steve Cuden: Is there anything that you wish cartoon writers would do more of to help your job be easier?

Candi Milo: Yes. Never write in the accent. Don’t ever put in the patois. Don’t ever write. If you’ve hired me, you know I can do the accent. Just write in regular English and I’ll do the accent. But I have read scripts where I’ve said, I have no fucking idea what this says. It’s like with zees sings at ze here. It’s like, zees. I’m like, what is Z-E-E-E-S. Then all you’re doing is saying nonsense words and you’ve lost the fact that she might go, it is me over her with zees in my hand. Because I’m so busy trying to figure out what in the hell it says.

Steve Cuden: Somewhere in there, the writer has to have indicated that it’s a French accent.

Candi Milo: Thank you. It’s why you’ve hired me because I’ve probably auditioned in the French accent, and you picked my audition. So you know I can do it. So don’t do it. Also, all caps. When writers over punctuate, it is really indicating, and it’s really leading. It’s like leading the witness. Do you know what I mean? Over punctuation, exclamation mark, question mark. That should be written in the dialogue. It should be a parenthetical at the top of the speech, or it should be in that, so we know, but to dictate all caps. Sometimes the writer is sitting there screaming along with you. I would say, then you’re not letting me act. You are just using my voice for you to act.

Steve Cuden: I will tell you it comes from the fear that all writers have.

Candi Milo: What is that?

Steve Cuden: That no one will understand what you’ve written. So sometimes you go overboard on it to make sure people understand what it is you’re intending. Then it comes out for you as, wait a minute, you don’t need to dictate to me how to do my job.

Candi Milo: I have the greatest story from Tiny Tunes, the original. There was a very young writer who did not believe that any of us understood, hello nurse. We did it and this person was apoplectic, and she kept repeating exactly what we had done and saying, it’s from when we were all like, we’ve watched the Marx Brothers, the Three Stooges. We know hello nurse. We know what this is. I can tell you, you just made perfect sense because that’s what her fear was, is that we wouldn’t understand what she was getting at.

Steve Cuden: Well, when you sit and write action and dialogue in a cartoon, you’re trying to express something that you aren’t sure when you’re writing it, that anyone else will understand. Right. So sometimes you go further.

Candi Milo: What I think is so great about animation today as opposed to what it was before, is now dialogue and character is king. But when I was growing up, it was all action. The art director was the king. The Tex Averies. These were the kings, Bob Clampett. These were the kings of the cartoons. How Tex Avery had the ay-oo-ga eyes, and it was sound effects. Now it’s a little more dialogue friendly because we’re all online and we’re all connected, and we’ve all seen it all before. So I do think that actors have made the leap, so to speak. We’re back to getting it and being able to act rather than just get in there and speak.

Steve Cuden: That is the way that over time things sort of work their way into one thing or another. It gets driven by usually a group of people like actors who say, we don’t need this. So don’t do that. Over time, writers will get that.

Candi Milo: Right. I learned this from an acting coach. A script has the job. You could go tomorrow, and they’ll get another voice actor. But they’ve put money behind the script. The script has the job. The writer’s sitting there. He’s on the team that pays. He’s on the production team. Get in there and do right by the script. Because that’s been drilled into my head, I will always make the writing supreme, where other people will always try to just squeeze by with a funny voice and a voice director going, oh, that’s brilliant, but try it this way. I always under my breath will go, oh, do you mean as written? Why don’t you try doing that? Don’t mind me, but you should have hired me for this if you wanted somebody to honor the script. Kidding.

Steve Cuden: Alright. You also do on-camera work.

Candi Milo: I do. Whenever they let me.

Steve Cuden: I see you on TV and I think to myself, I know who that person is. Would you say you prefer to do on-camera, or does it matter?

Candi Milo: I prefer to do voiceover. I prefer it. It’s just easier. It’s funnier. I get more out of it. I know this is going to sound so silly. I love making commercials. Those are 30 second movies. I love doing shorts. I love doing commercials. They’re loud, fast, and funny, just like me. If they were in the dating world, they’d be alone, just like me. I think that I do love that. I have done enough on camera movies, I think, probably in my lifetime to know that an entire day at the craft service table and then sleeping in my trailer is no fun. I did a soap opera for a year, once. Days of Our Lives in 1984 in case anybody is listening that’s older than that. That was a lot of fun because I would just go out and watch the others ham it up. It was like I could have popcorn and watch the other actors on set. I enjoyed doing that because you’d go home exhausted and an hour later, you’d have your script for the next day that you’d have to have memorized. Because you were a small enough character, they weren’t going to put it on any cue cards. It was live, which I loved. Then I was in bed at 7:00 PM because I had to be up at four and there on the set at 5:30.

Steve Cuden: Not much of a life outside.

Candi Milo: Not much of a life. But man, it was fun. Man, it was really fun.

Steve Cuden: Do you have any particular technique that you use to memorize lines? Is it just the brute force of just going over and over again?

Candi Milo: It is the brute force of going over and over. I have two auditions this afternoon for stuff. One of these bits is so easy for me that I literally looked at it and went, I got it. I don’t have to look at it again. I know exactly how they’re writing it. They wrote this like I talk. I know what I’m after. I know what the next line is because I know what I’m saying. That’s a lot of fun. The other one is in Spanish. Spanish is a second language to me, and it is completely in Spanish. I am sweating. I’m a little nervous about that.

Steve Cuden: Have you done a bunch of Spanish speaking parts?

Candi Milo: Yeah, I have done. I actually have done, and my background is Italian and then I have Spanish and Armenian and some other little things, but I speak Spanish. I just haven’t been speaking Spanish—

Steve Cuden: Fluently for a while.

Candi Milo: I would say all of Covid I was not getting Spanish speaking roles. I was not doing Spanish-speaking commercials. I was doing mostly Anglo. We call them white. I was doing the white commercials. I haven’t been doing it. It makes me anxious because not only am I translating as I’m talking, I’m trying to honor the writing and act it. Then you have to act it and put the right emphasis on the right syllable in the right word. It makes me crazy because it isn’t easy, but I’m going to kill it. I’m going to do well. I’m going to kill it.

Steve Cuden: Well, it’s obviously a lot easier to do voiceover work from the perspective of you go in. Usually, if you’re doing a half hour show, you’re there for two or three or four hours at the most. You go home. You don’t put on costumes. You don’t put on special makeup. There’s no lighting. People aren’t pushing you around. It’s a lot easier.

Candi Milo: It is. We talked really earlier. I got that rhythm. I know how to do it. Maybe I’ll get it two days before, but lately there’ve been so many revisions that a couple of shows I’m on, I’m getting them the night before. But I sit down at dinner with a highlighter and I’m going through and doing my reading and making ideas and going, oh my God, that’s really funny. I get that. Because I’m regular characters on these shows, I know what I sound like. I know what my point of view is. It is easier. But there is something fun. I have this Tide commercial where I play this grandmother that’s been running all of COVID. Thank you, God. It saved my life.

Steve Cuden: I’ve seen it more than once.

Candi Milo: Thank you. I’m so happy. I have a dur wiener schnitzel only now it’s just called wiener schnitzel. There’s no dur. Wiener schnitzel spot running. That was the most fun that I’d had in forever because I only had one line, which was thank you.

Steve Cuden: Thank you.

Candi Milo: I got the same money as everybody else. I was so happy. I was like, this reminds me of voiceover. But I drove all the way out to Ontario to this beautiful wiener schnitzel. The director was so damn fun. I was in the cutest outfit. I had great makeup. I looked great. I said, thank you. We did five takes from three different angles. I was wrapped within four hours. I was like, this is like doing voiceover. Super fun. So I do love making commercials. I was the spokesperson for Mervins for eight years back in the day I was there.

Steve Cuden: I recall open, open, open. I remember it.

Candi Milo: Open, open, open, which was an ad-lib. Thank you so much. They made a campaign out of it. Thank you so much. Thank you, I love doing it. I did Southern Ford and Pearl Vision and oh my God, you name it. I did enjoy that. But then I did this horrible thing called, got a little older. Then I no longer can play a young mom. Now I’m just the crazy next-door neighbor or the crazy aunt because I’m not really old enough to play a grandmother. I am, but I won’t let my hair go gray. I’m not going to do it. I know you did. I won’t. I can’t.

Steve Cuden: I let it go.

Candi Milo: You did. But you’re a boy. You can.

Steve Cuden: Yeah, I can get away with it. Let’s talk about directors for one moment. You’ve worked with lots of different directors in various different ways. Clearly voice directing is a little bit different than directing for the stage, which is a little bit different than directing for camera. So what would you say that you’ve learned from the better directors over time that you think is something that most actors should have from directors?

Candi Milo: Yeah. I think the best directors that I know leave the people alone that know what they’re doing. They’re scary enough so that everybody on their show is prepared. Because I’ve been with voice directors where they’ve said, you haven’t read it. Then the next week there’s somebody else in the part. I think that there is over directing. I think there’s a really wonderful expression that I love and appreciate. Listen man, after three times, say this to an actor. Voice directors. Do you mind if I give you a line reading so that we can… I will say, absolutely not. Am I not nailing it? They’ll be like, you’re so close. Which is beautiful, especially when you’re way off. Then they’ll give it to you. When a voice director gives you a line reading, they want you to mimic them. That’s what a line reading is. I can’t tell you the amount of people who don’t understand and think that this is the gist of what they want. Now, a line reading means mimic me. Do exactly what I’m doing. Put the emphasis on this syllable, or very easily they’ll go, one more time. Three in a row. But can you hit this? Rather than come. I’ll be like, got it, got it, got it, got it. I prefer to work a page, which is weird. I’d like to do one read through with the casting. Because now it’s Covid, so you can’t have a group read. When I go in, it’s just me. So I like the person that’s voice directing to read the page. A queen of this is Mary Elizabeth McGlynn. She and Ashley and Ben DeWitt. They will read with you and the mic is live. We’re reading it, and I’ll do my line. We leave razor blades so that they can cut. Then I want to do the page again. Take a direction. Do the page again. By the page, I mean, just my lines. But the first time she reads everybody else in. Then the second and third time, I’m just doing my lines. I get lost and cuckoo bird, when we do each line three times in a row. I lose context. I lose timing. I then just start throwing anything in take three. I’m just throwing stuff in because it’s take three and I don’t know how to do it any different way. So I love doing it page by page.

Steve Cuden: You need the context of all the other lines in order to give you the full performance.

Candi Milo: Right. So that I know how that is. Then the voice director’s going to read the other lines, how she’s going to direct them. So I get a heads up on what they’re going to end up sounding like so that I can do it. I do not like hearing the other actors read it. Because there’s a part of me that’s a mimic. So I’ll either go into their register or into their cadence, and I don’t want to do that.

Steve Cuden: What do you mean you don’t want to hear them do their line?

Candi Milo: Sometimes I’m not the first one recorded. They’ve got somebody and they’re like, do you want to hear that line before you? I’m like, no, thank you.

Steve Cuden: What about if you’re in a room and it’s eight actors in there at one time?

Candi Milo: Well, that’s great because that’s organic. And then when somebody plays me something that’s already recorded…

Steve Cuden: I see.

Candi Milo: It doesn’t really matter. It’s also, why do you need me to hear that? Why don’t you just read it like you directed them to read it.

Steve Cuden: Got it.

Candi Milo: I would be responding to somebody, and also, it’s ego, their read takes precedence. What if I don’t like it? What if I’m like, If I do this, you got that. What’s funny, I’m usually the first in, and they’ll lay down my characters first.

Steve Cuden: So you don’t have to deal with it.

Candi Milo: Then I don’t have to deal with it. I’m fast. There are a couple of directors that I love because they just let the tape roll. Of course there’s no tape, but that’s what we say. Just let it roll. We do that. I do miss group records though. Oh my God.

Steve Cuden: The energy of a group record is totally different than when you’re recording individually.

Candi Milo: Yeah. I mean, I think the first to start this individual records was Disney because they used so many celebrities. They stunt cast so much of their nineties and early two thousands series that they could never get them in a room.

Steve Cuden: Also Pixar does it.

Candi Milo: Yeah. Pixar does that. So all you’re doing is like, basically you feel like you’re doing Walla or you’re just doing extra lines. You have nobody to read off of. You have no idea how the celebrity is going to do it. I didn’t like it. Now, that’s what we’re doing. Although when we did Space Jam, it was the height of Covid. I did it in this little, tiny booth. Here’s the space of my booth right here. It’s also called a closet where I keep my winter clothes. My booth slash closet slash linen closet up above. We did Zooms where Malcolm D. Lee, the director, was on all the writers spike, all the writers were on, and LeBron was on. He was never on camera. But I think he was usually in the room with Malcolm D. Lee. We did A Movie Man in this closet. We made a movie.

Steve Cuden: Wow.

Candi Milo: They sometimes had animatic. Sometimes not. Then we would ad lib, and then they were pushing granny. How street would granny sound? There’s the greatest line in Space Jam Two, A New Legacy, is Granny walks up with the rim of the basket and she says, game blouses what? I tell you that is Malcolm D. Lee’s line to me. He made that up. After I did it, you could see everybody. 12 people on the Zoom. They were all muted, just roaring in their own little thing. I was like, it is my favorite line in the entire movie. Game blouses what? I like it better when there’s an audience. I think that comes from live performing. Dee Bradley Baker says that same thing. It’s better when there’s an audience.

Steve Cuden: Have you ever worked with anyone that’s never been a stage actor and they don’t know what that’s like?

Candi Milo: Yeah. I have.

Steve Cuden: How different is it for you to work with those kinds of performers?

Candi Milo: Well, I will tell you, and this is really dating myself that I worked with the late Eddie Albert Jr. What a beautiful guy that guy was. He had only done film and television. He had never done a theme park because he’s not a carny like me. He had never done records. He had never done any stage performance at all. He had never hosted anything. He had never been in front of a live audience. He’d got a room with maniacs. We’re idiots. We’re morons. We’re carny folk. Voice actors are one step from swinging from the rafters. We’re nuts.

Steve Cuden: That’s what they pay you for.

Candi Milo: That is it. I will tell you. He didn’t know what to do and he couldn’t get the energy up. He just really couldn’t. Somebody who could, I think he did do live, was Henry Winkler. He was an idiot. He was like one of us.

Steve Cuden: He also does a lot of comedy.

Candi Milo: Yeah. Exactly. He was wonderful. He’s a wonderful actor. But I have to tell you one quick story. That is, I was at Cartoon Network, and I don’t remember what show it is. I wanted to say that I was doing some fun stuff on Johnny Bravo for Cartoon Network. I think that was the show where Mark Hamill was in the room. Because I don’t think we were at LA’s Salami Studios, which was also such a great place. I think we were at Cartoon Network, and I walked in and Mark Hamill was there. So I consider Mark a good friend who’s now so fricking famous that he doesn’t know me. It’s like Bryan Cranston. Our kids went to grammar school together and he set me up on a date. Now he’s so famous, he doesn’t know me. But I was like, I’m dying because I walked in and I was like, because it is my line. It is why I will die single. I walked up to Mark Hamill and say, do people tell you look like Mark Hamill?

Steve Cuden: No. They told me I look like Steven Spielberg.

Candi Milo: Right. He roared. He just absolutely roared. I swear to God, we were friends from then on and we did a lot of animation work. A lot of it.

Steve Cuden: He’s done a ton of these.

Candi Milo: A ton. The Joker.

Steve Cuden: He’s done a lot of my stuff.

Candi Milo: Yeah. A ton. He’s the nicest human. Now he’s just like so famous. I tell him that I liked him when he was Luke and then dead Luke for 20 years where there was no Star Wars. Then they did those other things. Then Disney picked it up and now he’s gigantic. But he’s still a marvelous human being. But that’s my opening line when I’m shocked. Oh my God, do people tell you, you look like Steven Spielberg? Because you can’t be Steven Spielberg. because you’re giving me a compliment. You can’t be Mark Hamill that I was in love with in high school because I’m sitting next to you. So I have to do my line.

Steve Cuden: I understand. Let’s chat for a brief time about your book, which we haven’t gotten to yet. Surviving the Odd. All right.

Candi Milo: Yes.

Steve Cuden: So tell us just a little bit in brief what the overview of the book is about. What is this story of Surviving the Odd.

Candi Milo: The story is the story of a daughter trying to understand her father and some of the choices that he’s made. My father was a very successful nightclub performer, singer, actor, comedian, opened for Cab Callaway, Louis Armstrong, The Ames brothers. Sophie Tucker loved him. Bobby Darren loved him. As he aged, he decided he wanted to give something back to society. Of course it was my childhood. But that’s okay. I didn’t even get a Brownie badge. He opened one of the very first halfway houses for the developmentally disabled and emotionally abused adults and didn’t get us a second house. So the first year and a half, I’m seven and a half going on eight. I lived in a converted fraternity house with a put down comic, 12 special needs adults. My mom, my grandfather, and four brothers and sisters. I’m still not recovered, but I’m a lot older. Then after about a year and a half, we moved next door and my dad cut a hole in the fence so that he could get out and walk across and go in the side door. But this old fraternity house had lost its charter, and our family stayed in the den mother’s apartment. I didn’t meet my dad until I was about four. He had been traveling with the USO in Vietnam for about 20 months. He came back and didn’t know what he was going to do to make a living. But the USO used to be a job where they paid you. So that was being phased out, and it was becoming a charity. So he needed something else to do. He decided this was a really good idea. I was really my dad’s sidekick. I went with him wherever he went. I know that my brothers and sisters probably have a different perspective. I’ll let them write their own books. But this is mine, where I came to grips with the fact that I would be living in a place with people that were heavily medicated, that were developmentally and mentally disabled, and that my life outside of Milo Arm’s Board and Care Home would be forever altered based on people’s shaming of me and my parents for doing this. That I was embarrassed to tell somebody that we did this. I have never had a slumber party ever in my entire life. I only went to one and I was like, we all sleep on the floor in these strawberry shortcake little things. I got to go home. Somebody called my mom. I’m not sleeping on a floor. It hurts my head. I didn’t have a lot of friends and I wouldn’t allow people to get close to me, which unfortunately is still a hallmark of kind of who I am. I think, Steve, that’s why I’m so outwardly pushing. So my story with photos is a true story of my dad. The struggles that he had with the government on all levels, city, county, state, and federal level on trying to get care and money for these residents, and the emptying of these hospitals, especially in Northern California, where there was a plethora of them. We were the first state to do it. Our governor was Ronald Reagan. He did it to balance the state budget. I am not talking about politics. I’m just talking about reality. Had it been a Democrat, it would’ve been him that I said, but this is what happened. Then President Nixon took it up nationally. Then they started because the mentally disabled and developmentally disabled did not vote. So they didn’t really care whether anybody cared for them. Then they dumped them on the streets. In my book, I talk about my dad picking up the residents from Agnew State Mental Hospital. There were others. Napa, San Francisco, Menlo Park. There were other hospitals up there. But I concentrate mostly on Agnews because it was near San Jose. Then we had the largest homeless population from 1969 and ‘72 today.

Steve Cuden: It’s why we have so many homeless today.

Candi Milo: I believe. Thank you, San Jose Public Library. The research that I did. To give you an idea, we were a block and a half from the San Jose State campus, but it was not a university yet. It was just San Jose State. I was two doors down from a 7-11 in the heart of downtown San Jose. My cousins were blocks away. They grew up on treelined streets. I grew up next door to a 7-11. It was just a harsher life that I had. They did not discern who would be released and who would not. It was basically, if you weren’t a danger to society, you were out. If you were a danger to society, you were out. They were emptying the hospitals. Now we know people were unmedicated and crimes were happening because they didn’t take into account how long somebody had been institutionalized. Whether they could read and write, hold a job. None of them had held jobs. My dad used to say, these were a group of people waiting for the lunch bell to ring. They slept in parks. They couldn’t get apartments. Because they couldn’t get apartments, they didn’t have addresses. So they couldn’t get their medication. When they did the initial release, I think in the first two months, they did three or four waves of releases. Close to 200,000 people had been let out statewide.

Steve Cuden: Wow.

Candi Milo: In the San Jose Bay area, there were 4,300 beds.

Steve Cuden: In the book, I mean, it’s not parallel, but in a way it is. It’s almost like reading your life as if you lived in the story of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

Candi Milo: My father said, when we saw One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, my dad said—and forgive me, I don’t know if I can say this. My dad said, where’s my fucking name in the credits? Because I think Ken Kesey, they had done it as a play.

Steve Cuden: They had,

Candi Milo: Yeah. I think it was a play before it was a movie.

Steve Cuden: Well, he wrote a book, and then there was a play, and then there was a movie.

Candi Milo: I don’t know when it was, but my dad said he definitely saw our guys, because I have a picture in our day room. Our guys were, chief was Pedro Roa, Martini was this guy, Louie. I have a picture and you tell me if this is not. That’s why my dad said he watched it and he said, where the fuck’s my name? Because he was from the Bronx, just so you know.

Steve Cuden: The extraordinary part about it is that you were living with these people. For a long time you were not separated from them at all. You were in the same house.

Candi Milo: No, we were in the same house.

Steve Cuden: They were slightly off, as you would say.

Candi Milo: They were, but they were not violent. One of the things you get when my dad went to pick them up, as I say in my book, my mom said, you got to be kidding me. My dad said, this was all that was left. I got what I got. Let’s deal with it. We did not get anybody violent, anybody with a history of sexual or violent past at all. They were so heavily medicated and they were not medicated to help them. They were medicated to help the undiagnosed. The people who didn’t want to see them talking to themselves or talking to fire hydrants or being ridiculous. They were so heavily medicated. But my dad gave them jobs. My dad was one of the first people to work with Goodwill and had them repairing toasters and small appliances in our house. In our house.

Steve Cuden: You’re talking about the folks that lived with you were making repairs on things.

Candi Milo: Yes. My dad was getting them jobs and sending them to adult daycare at churches and groups. We got a larger house, and then we got a larger house. I think over the years, my parents housed more than 250 residents.

Steve Cuden: That’s amazing.

Candi Milo: 90% of them never left.

Steve Cuden: That’s amazing. In the book, it’s clear that your house was filled with warmth and love. It was chaos to a certain extent, but there was kind of controlled chaos is the way that it’s presented in the book. And that those folks liked being there. It wasn’t like a prison to them in any way, shape, or form.

Candi Milo: No. I’ll tell you. I think with the best intentions, the ACLU was on board with the initial emptying of the hospitals based on the fact that if one person was there against their will, they wanted that person to be able to be free. Of course, there was a history of institutionalizing women. So I got it. It didn’t pan out how they thought it was, but the biggest threat my father could do was point his finger and say, if you don’t behave and knock that crap off, I’m going to put you back in the hospital. He could bring these guys to tears. It would be like, no, I got a roommate. I got an outfit. I got a job. I am loved. I am respected. I am seen. I get to go on field trips.

Steve Cuden: The food is good.

Candi Milo: The food is good. I have a little job here. Basically, my dad modeled it on a family. The controlled chaos was that my dad was one of 12 lunatics himself. So it was not the greatest family model, but they were part of our family. They behaved just like we did. I have a great story. I am the strong person that I am today, Steve, because of Milo Arms. So I got the role of Dolly and Hello Dolly. I think I was a sophomore. Might’ve been a freshman when I was at this school. My dad brought eight of the residents and put them in the front row. But he had taught them the Overture to Brigadoon and I was doing Hello Dolly. So they were sitting there going Brigadoon when they started to play the Overture for Hello Dolly, which I think starts with [vocal percussion] and they were going Brigadoon. So the teacher comes back and says, I want everybody to know that in the front row we have some special needs people. I just started to be like Homer Simpson in The Simpsons fading back into a bush. I just kept moving further and further back thinking, I am going to fucking kill my father. I walked out with such a puss on my face, like, oh, I hate you. I saw my dad in the back with my little brother on his lap smoking a cigar, blowing the smoke out of the door that he had cracked a little bit laughing. But when I walked out on stage and they brought up the lights, those eight people stood up and clapped. I had just walked out on stage because I had done something that they, in their wildest dreams would never be able to do. That was, I performed on a stage in a costume, and they wanted to let everybody know how much they loved me.

Steve Cuden: I would say that the miracle of the book is how much humor is in it. You have a lot of very funny stories. Your father clearly was a very funny person both on stage and off stage.

Candi Milo: He was.

Steve Cuden: You are a very funny person, and you tell the book in a very funny way. So, even as it’s kind of sad in a number of places, it’s really a very uplifting book. It’s not a sad book.

Candi Milo: Thank you. No, it isn’t. I think what it is, is real. Why I wanted to do it is because I see the same thing happening today. I see the mentally ill being scapegoated. I see this happening. I think that we are misusing the word hate for mental illness. I think that I just wanted to say, we haven’t solved the homeless problem. You haven’t medicated people who want to be. We haven’t figured out how to house everybody. I just wanted to bring it to the forefront. But I think what my father did was admirable. He did it his way. He bucked the system. I don’t want to give away the book. He ended up being successful, but it didn’t last long.

Steve Cuden: Right. It was a struggle. The whole thing was a big struggle.

Candi Milo: The whole thing was a struggle. It not only was a struggle against the powers that be, but it was a struggle against my father’s personality and his strengths and his demons, of which there were many of both. I think it’s important to see that not every protagonist is a hundred percent noble and not every antagonist is a hundred percent evil.

Steve Cuden: Well, that’s for sure.

Candi Milo: Right.

Steve Cuden: That’s usually true for antagonists as well. They’re not usually a hundred percent evil either. Would you say that your experiences have informed many of the characters you’ve developed over time?

Candi Milo: Absolutely. I’ll tell you why. It’s because first, out of necessity for safety, I had to watch people very closely. I can tell when somebody’s off their meds. I had to be able to tell who needed an intervention when I had to call our head nurse. We had one head nurse and that’s because my sister and I, who were seven and eight were medicating everybody. We got in a fight and dropped it, and I put a baby aspirin in when it should have been an anti-seizure medication. Then there became a law. Anyway, things like that. So we would call. Her name was Ruth. We’d call her and I got to see people. But one of the things that I got to do, Steve, is I got to see beyond the exterior where most people stopped at what they were wearing, or the fact that they had medicated spill in the corners of their mouth, or they had lithium breath, or their eyes were rolling back. They stopped and never got to know their first name or their last name, or who their parents were, or what they used to do, and who they used to be and what happened to them, where they would end up with us. So I learned as an actor to look past even the writing. Not look past the writing, look into the writing and find this character. Everybody says, do you find yourself in the character? I think, yeah. Normally I look and I find somebody from Milo Arms.

Steve Cuden: In a weird way, it was very helpful for your career.

Candi Milo: It was very helpful. It’s also when I moved to LA, and I had just turned 18. I lived alone and I was struggling, and I never moved home. I stayed in Los Angeles. It was because I had a lot of street smarts, and I knew who to stay away from, and I knew what to stay away from. I knew the difference between drugs and medication. I knew the difference between somebody who was over and under medicated. I could tell helplessness from evil. It just really was reading people. I think when you go through a childhood trauma like this, and I’m not using trauma in a pejorative term. It was what it was. I think when you have childhood trauma, it makes you overly brave. I think I got all of the jobs that I got from the time I was 18 to 25 from having the biggest set of balls in the room, because you cannot hurt something that’s already broken.

Steve Cuden: Oh, that’s a very good line.

Candi Milo: Oh, thank you.

Steve Cuden: You can’t hurt something that’s already broken is a very good line.

Candi Milo: Yeah.

Steve Cuden: Clearly you matured fast by growing up in that circumstance.

Candi Milo: Right. I did. I think it’s why I never put my daughter Gabby in show business, because I, like my dad who’d also never had a childhood. He was a child star by the time he was five. He was on the road. He had 12 brothers and sisters. He was making money for the entire family. So he was always working. I was always working, or I was always on guard. I wanted to make sure that my kid didn’t know anything about that. I grew up. I had written down one of the things that I wanted to say was the only wistful thing about my childhood is that I find myself today better alone and I don’t like that. I’m more comfortable when I’m by myself. I remember saying this to a friend at school in the group project, just let me do it and I’ll give everybody credit. But if I do it, we can get an A. Just let me do it because I couldn’t trust anybody. We didn’t have bedtimes. My parents were always at Milo Arms. There was never food on the table for breakfast. My mom was exhausted. I always bought lunch because there was never anything in the house to be made. We didn’t have regular bath times. We didn’t have regular bedtimes. We were feral. The only thing that I regret out of all of that is that I don’t know how to be in a group and feel supported and feel protected. I don’t know how to have a close friend and really trust. That’s not a great thing. But other than that, I don’t think I would trade anything.

Steve Cuden: I’m sorry that you have that hat sense about your world. But at the same time, you have done amazing things with what you have been given.

Candi Milo: Thank you. Yeah. We’ve started off and you said, are you self-trained or did you study? The hardest thing was I wanted to be in show business. I wanted to be a singer so badly. I was so micro-aggressively turned off to show business by my dad. I mean, my dad told me I had a face for radio. My dad told me I was off pitch because he did not want me to do it. Right. He knew I was bright. He did not see a future for women in show business, which is so odd.

Steve Cuden: He was trying to dissuade you from it.

Candi Milo: Yeah, he was. Then when it got to be that I was good, and I have this, I was trying to put it into the chat. I can’t figure out how to get it out of iTunes, but I have a recording of my dad at his 60th birthday. Of course, we had a band in our backyard. Of course we did.

Steve Cuden: Of course.

Candi Milo: Of course we did.

Steve Cuden: Doesn’t everyone?

Candi Milo: He’s doing a show, and he introduces me as his brilliant daughter who can sing, but she’s going to be an attorney. She’s going to Santa Clara University, and she’s going to be an attorney. Then you have 16-year-old me getting up and belting my face off and everybody’s screaming. Then my dad takes the mic from me and says, you only hit two bad notes. I was like, my God, I’m 16. Fuck you. God, could you not just say, great. Then I sang the next song, The Way We Were completely off key.

Steve Cuden: On purpose or by mistake.

Candi Milo: No. My mind is so blown. To this day, I cannot sing Harmony because I have this thing where if I have to listen to my own voice, I am in a state of panic. Because I was supposed to be an attorney. I just want you to know, if I was an attorney, I would’ve ended my life by now. Trust me.

Steve Cuden: But you would’ve been the most entertaining attorney ever.

Candi Milo: Right.

Steve Cuden: I have been speaking for almost an hour and 15 minutes to the divine Candi Milo. We’re going to wind this thing down just a little bit. You’ve already told us an enormous number of hilarious and wonderful stories. But I’m wondering, in all of your experiences, do you have one particular story that might be either beyond what you’ve already told us, oddball, weird, quirky, offbeat, or just plain funny?

Candi Milo: I am recording two stupid dogs at Hanna-Barbera. I’ve been in the business like a minute and a half. I think I’ve only done Tiny Tune Adventures by Steven Spielberg. That’s all I’ve done. I am recording Little Red Riding Hood, and they bring in as the witch Carol Channing. So Carol Channing is sitting there. It’s me, Brad Garrett, Jeff Glenn Bennett—and I forget the young man’s name, Scott somebody—and Carol Channing, and the engineer, and Hanna-Barbera. There’s some noise we’re getting from your jacket. She’s got a navy-blue jacket on and a white silk shirt. So she takes her jacket off and he says, we’re still getting it. A kind of a jangly, windy thing. So she takes off her necklaces. She’s got chunky jewelry on. She’s got these big black glasses, bigger than the ones I’m wearing now that Steve can see but you guys can’t. She’s got giant glasses on. She takes her rings, everything off, and he said, we’re still getting it. She stands up and takes her blouse off. I want you to know, I stood up off of my chair and gave her a standing fucking ovation. I couldn’t believe it. Brad Garrett was like, oh my god. Jeff Glenn Bennett was like, oh my God. I’m clapping. Her boobs were perfect. She had to be 75-77. Her body was gorgeous. She had on the most gorgeous black bra. I said to myself, that bitch planned it. At the end, there is a picture of us hugging. I was madly in love from that moment on with Carol Channing. Oh my God, I don’t know what it is. Just took her top off. You’re welcome.

Steve Cuden: Did she say hello, Dolly?

Candi Milo: Yes. She was like, is this better? Eddie was an older guy and kind of a little conservative. His face was so red, I was waiting for his hair to go up in flames. He did not know what to do. Brad Garrett, who is brilliant and funny, and fast, was dumbfounded. Jeff Glenn Bennett was covering his eyes. I was just like this is the greatest thing I have ever seen in my life. Well, you are my kind of gal.

Steve Cuden: Who among you, when you went into the studio that day, expected to see Carol Channing take her top off?

Candi Milo: An older woman. I want to say, if I hear elderly from my age one more time, people are going to end up crying. Probably me. But she was an older woman. She was an elderly woman because she died at 96, I think 95, Just recently just prior to Covid. So it’s got to be, she was 75-80 years old with the most rocking body I have ever seen in my life and a gorgeous black lingerie.

Steve Cuden: Well, she took care of herself.

Candi Milo: She took care of herself. She was thin. She was gorgeous. She was naked. You are welcome.

Steve Cuden: No one had cell phones to take pictures.

Candi Milo: No. My picture was taken on a camera that somebody—and I don’t know if it was Chris Zimmerman who took it. But somebody had a camera at Hanna-Barbera. She did put her top back on, but I was hugging her. The way that I am grinning was me and my new best friend.

Steve Cuden: Was she laughing about it?

Candi Milo: She was, and she was delightful. Let me tell you something. She had read her script and she had made choices.

Steve Cuden: Oh, well there was no one more professional than Carol Channing.

Candi Milo: Carol Channing was like working with Phyllis Diller. Let me tell you. Absolute read it. We were at Nickelodeon and Phyllis Diller came in. It could have been Jimmy Neutron. I’m not sure. She was older. I could do a hundred jokes in a minute. That was my thing. She sat there and she said, somebody time me. Time me. She did like 60 jokes in a minute.

Steve Cuden: Oh wow.

Candi Milo: I mean, she was just going off [vocal percussion]. But it was just 60 punchlines. But they all added up to one joke.

Steve Cuden: Really.

Candi Milo: That was her bit that she used to do. She also must have been 70 or 80, but she could still do. That’s what I want to be when I grow up.

Steve Cuden: She was basically the original female standup.

Candi Milo: The original prior to Joan Rivers, it was Bill Dillon.

Steve Cuden: Prior to Joan Rivers.

Candi Milo: Yeah. The one before that was Martha Ray, who was actually a singer. But nobody wanted to listen to her sing because she was not very attractive. So she started to mug and make funny faces, and she became a comedian. But she was a little Italian woman that could sing. She was there. Then when Joan Rivers came, it was that whole thing that my dad said, you never saw how they treated Phyllis Diller. That’s why my dad didn’t want me to go into show business. You have no idea how they treat women. You’re garbage, or you got to sleep with somebody. I was like, well. Thanks dad.

Steve Cuden: In some ways it’s gotten better and in some ways, it hasn’t changed at all.

Candi Milo: It hasn’t changed all. I was kidding around with you earlier. I mean, I would love to let my hair go grey. I’d never work. I’d never work in animation because I am hired by fetuses. Their mothers are not funny. But do you know, who’s really not funny? Their grandmothers. So as long as they kind of don’t know how old I am, and they kind of see me with my Zoom on with touch it all the way up, it doesn’t really phase them. They can’t put an age on me, but the day I walk in with gray hair, I’ll never work again.

Steve Cuden: Well, I would submit to you the beauty part about what you do is they’re not casting your physicality. They’re casting your vocal.

Candi Milo: Yeah. Which is so great. Why, which is why when you said, do you warm up? I said, yeah. Because he who doesn’t use it loses it. If you don’t warm up your voice every day, you fall into some older funky rhythm patterns. So as long as you keep it up and keep it fresh, you can still work.

Steve Cuden: Alright, well, last question for you today, Candi. You’ve already given us an enormous amount of advice throughout this whole show. But I’m wondering if you have a single solid piece of advice or a tip that you like to give people who are starting out in the business, or maybe they’re in a little bit, but trying to get to that next level.

Candi Milo: I think the worst thing that anybody could do is fall into the mindset that you don’t know anybody in the industry and that you need an entree, or you need a mentor. I can promise you that. I say to everybody out there, why not you? If I can come from a showbiz family, but by the time I was born, everybody my dad knew was gone and dead. Everybody in Vaudeville was gone. Nobody helped me. I did okay. Not by pulling myself up from my bootstraps in case you don’t have boots. Do you know what I’m saying? It’s not that. It’s that I never wavered in my belief that why couldn’t it also be me. If I have something to say to the world and give to the world, why not me? So I say to you, why not you? Why not you? If you can keep that mindset, there is no door that you cannot knock down. Or climb through a window. If you’re a minor, it’ll be a misdemeanor.

Steve Cuden: That is really terrific advice. I mean, that’s true.

Candi Milo: Thank you.

Steve Cuden: If you put your mind to it and you go do it something usually will happen for you.

Candi Milo: Yeah. Build a network. Build your network of people so that you are the next generation of people that everybody else is trying to get past. But you can’t stop and say, well, I don’t have an agent, or I don’t know anybody to get me a good agent. You just keep doing your thing. Audition, audition, audition, audition. They can’t keep you out forever. They just can’t. They can’t.

Steve Cuden: Well, there’s a fact that’s true and that is that no one who gives up will succeed.

Candi Milo: No. You miss a hundred percent of the shots you don’t take.

Steve Cuden: That’s a hundred percent true.

Candi Milo: Right.

Steve Cuden: Candi Milo, this has been a spectacular almost an hour and a half.

Candi Milo: I’m sorry.

Steve Cuden: Oh, no. I love it.

Candi Milo: Talk so much.

Steve Cuden: It’s fantastic.

Candi Milo: It was so great to see you and talk to you again, Steve. We go back a long way. Some really great shows. I thank you for this and this has been such a pleasure for me as well. Thank you for liking my book and I hope it does well.

Steve Cuden: So we’ve come to the end of today’s StoryBeat. If you liked this episode, won’t you please take a moment to give us a comment, rating, or review on whatever app or platform you are listening to. Your support helps us bring more great StoryBeat episodes to you. StoryBeat is available on all major podcast apps and platforms, including Apple Podcasts, YouTube, Spotify, iHeartRadio, Stitcher, Tune In, and many others. Until next time, I’m Steve Cuden. May all your stories be unforgettable.

Executive Producer: Steve Cuden, Producer: Casey Georgi, Announcer: Javier Grajeda
Social Media: Mina Hoffman, Design & Marketing: Holly Reed, Reed Creative Group


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