By Karen La Pierre
Hoisington’s hometown girl Kari Wahlgren has made a place for herself in the bright lights of Hollywood with her ability to convey a wide array of characters and people vocally.
“I’ve discovered over the years that I can do a lot of different things with my voice,” Wahlgren said. “I think that has helped me make a career out of this.
“That is the wonderful thing about voiceover, I’m not limited by my age or what I look like or my gender. So I play everything from babies to little boys to vixens to grandmas. And sometimes all in one day.”
She even has her own Wikipedia page filled with her long list of anime, animations and vocal acting jobs now numbering over 200.
Wahlgren played Tinkerbell in “Neverland,” has been on “Criminal Minds,” in a documentary on voice acting, was the Mud Girl on the Swiffer commercial, Mevia, on “Minecraft Story,” The Nut Job 2, Guardians of the Galaxy, Suzy Johnson on “Phineas and Ferb,” and too many more to mention.
Wahlgren said she actually has a Swiffer at home in her kitchen. “I support the product,” she said.
She is currently reprising a “sentimental” role in a cartoon as “Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz,” playing Dorothy. It is on Boomerang streaming.
“It’s one of my favorite roles,” she said.
She is also playing Jamie in The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature.
The youngest of five children, Wahlgren lived most of her growing up years in Hoisington. She was born in Topeka, but the family moved to Hoisington not too long after.
Her parents, Lonnie and David Wahlgren were school teachers. Lonnie taught at the elementary school and David taught at the middle school. Wahlgren went to grade school in Hoisington and attended junior high and middle school in Great Bend.
The Hoisington 2001 tornado missed the Wahlgren home on 4th Street but friends and neighbors faced the devastating destruction, which was a year or two after Wahlgren moved to Los Angeles. Shortly thereafter, her parents moved and now live in Salina.
“So many people in LA joke about tornadoes or say ‘earthquakes I’m totally fine with,’ and for me, earthquakes were terrifying,” Wahlgren said. “I find them so much more unsettling than the tornadoes.”
Her years in the central U.S. have made a difference in her life.
“Perspective,” is what Wahlgren appreciates about growing up in Kansas.
“Maybe there is a kindness or work ethic,” she said.
Whatever it is, it immediately makes her stand out from the crowd. Strangers immediately know she is not a native of California, she said. “People always say, ‘you gotta be from somewhere else.’”
At this point in her career, Wahlgren acquires the script in advance and prepares herself beforehand. She no longer has to practice much, but occasionally takes a class for new perspectives and ideas.
Like any freelancer and like in any career there are some challenges. Wahlgren said, “You are always auditioning, every day. You never get to a point you can stop hustling. That can be a little stressful because the pace is always crazy.”
People think she can take a vacation whenever, but then if she’s on vacation, she doesn’t know when her next job will be.
“It can be a little stressful at times,” Wahlgren said. “It’s the life of a freelancer.”
One of her biggest goals is a long career, she said. “If I’m still working and still fulfilled 10 years from now, that will be real accomplishment.”
For today, however, the voice actress is quite satisfied.
“I love it. I absolutely love it,” Wahlgren said. “I can’t think of doing anything else that makes me quite so happy.”