The Voice of an Artist
Actress Nancy Cartwright, the voice of Bart Simpson for more than a quarter-century, brings art to life without saying a word.
Written byLinda Grasso Makeup
As the voice of Bart Simpson on the long-running animated series The Simpsons, actress Nancy Cartwright is used to sharing herself with the world. But in a quiet northwest quadrant of the Valley, she takes on a completely different artistic endeavor.
The actress recently discovered a love of and a talent for sculpting. It all began by taking a class and then, as Nancy describes it, the art “just came out of my fingertips.”
She is currently fully immersed at her home art studio on her fourth piece, an oil-based clay sculpture of a friend’s torso. “I’d say I’ve spent about 10 hours total on this piece so far,” she estimates.
Her studio is actually a tastefully tricked-out shipping container that was “delivered and literally plopped down one day right here,” shares her assistant, Monica, gesturing at the small structure (20 x 8 x 10). With the help of a designer, the container was transformed from a rudimentary rectangle to a bright, airy space that seamlessly abuts a building housing Nancy’s gym, theatre, recreation room and garage for her two electric cars.
A main house and a guesthouse are also on the sprawling compound, where Nancy has lived since the mid-‘90s. She and her ex-husband bought the property after the Northridge earthquake.
“He actually found it. I was out of town, and he called me and said, ‘Wow, it’s got a pool and a tennis court!’” Her parents live nearby.
The petite actress is currently serving her 11th year as honorary mayor of the North San Fernando Valley. At her induction ceremony earlier this year, Nancy gave an overview of the last 10 years—her “campaign promises” as well as her assertion that her “eat dessert first” promise was becoming a widely held health benefit.
The container, which has sides that slide completely open, was slightly enlarged … and then it was time for decor. There were several additions: red-paned French doors, a linoleum floor that looks like wood, running water and electricity. A succulent garden with its own watering system was installed on the roof to keep the unit cool.
“It is the perfect space,” she says, her bright blue eyes shining. “I come out here all by myself and on a sunny day open it up and put on music. Sometimes really loud. No cell phone. Just my creation and me. I can be out here for hours and hours. And when I’m here, I feel like I can do anything.”
Dual GoPro cameras are attached to the ceiling over Nancy’s workstation. They capture how much time she spends on each piece and offer “proof to friends that I actually made them!” she laughs.
While in college at Ohio University and working part-time at a Dayton radio station, Nancy discovered she had a special talent for voice-over. Convinced she needed to pursue her passion, she got the phone number for Daws Butler, known for voicing animated characters such as Elroy Jetson and Yogi Bear.
As the now-famous story goes, she left a message in a Cockney accent on his answering machine, and the actor immediately called her back. A mentorship blossomed, and Nancy ultimately transferred to UCLA to pursue her showbiz dream.
“At that point, I just knew that was exactly what I wanted to do,” she shares. Becoming a sculptress has been a more subtle, unexpected pleasure—a mid-life gift.”
Nancy has spent a relatively short time at her craft, but it is evident that she shows promise. Share that with Nancy, though, and she is low-key.
“Oh, I think everyone has an artist inside of them,” she says.
Paying it forward.