"U.S.Avengers": A Guide to Marvel's New Patriotic Superhero Team
Ask any child of the ‘80s and they’ll tell you: No woman compared to She-Ra, Princess of Power. Not only was she fighting to free the planet Etheria from the Evil Horde that had brainwashed her since infancy, she did it in style – atop a winged unicorn, with a golden tiara, red cape, flowing blonde locks and a tennis skirt that stayed put no matter how many somersaults were required to get the job done.
Forget Jem and her magical earring. She-Ra could heal the sick and communicate with animals — and she had a Sword of Protection that not only changed shape, but kept her in touch with her brother He-Man in Eternia, sans long-distance charges. None of these “fabulous secret powers” would have mattered much, though, without the talents of actress Melendy Britt to back them up. For 93 episodes and two movies, she gave She-Ra (and secret identity Adora) her confident voice … and a generation of children goose bumps every time she proclaimed, “For the Honor of Grayskull – I am She-Ra!”
“Looking back, I remember I always felt it,” Britt recalled of recording the iconic battle-cry. “I can’t tell you why. Maybe it was just meant for me to do. I actually hadn’t watched the series … until last year when it was the 25th anniversary and they sent me some copies of the DVDs. I listened to it again and I went, ‘Wow – you really nailed that! You must have really felt it.’ And I did. I think it was an intrinsic part of me that was just waiting to come out.”
Britt will be a guest of honor Sept. 24-25 at the inaugural Power-Con in Los Angeles, the first convention entirely dedicated to He-Man, She-Ra and the ThunderCats. From her L.A. home, the actress admitted to Spinoff Online she’s always been reluctant to appear publicly, having even shied away from participating in special features on DVD releases. “This is the very first time I’ve ever consented to do one of these. It’s always scared me,” she admitted. “I guess because I love that character so much, and I almost would like to keep her as this vision. I mean, I’m a real person and that was this gorgeous, wonderful, powerful character. I’m just an actress, you know?”
Britt needn’t worry about living up to the expectations of fans. Not only are Power-Con attendees sure to be charmed by the fact that she confuses Etheria with Eternia as much as the rest of us, but it turns out she’s also as witty as her animated counterpart.
“Somebody needs to give me a sword like that,” she declared, recalling She-Ra’s multipurpose weapon. “Actually, my iPhone’s a bit like my sword. I was thinking about that the other day. You know the picture in the sword where the Sorceress would appear [to speak to She-Ra]? I thought, ‘Well, gee, that’s like an iPhone!’”
She can also offer answers to questions fans have been pondering for nearly 25 years. Consider: Does Adora call upon the honor of Grayskull, instead of its power, like her brother, because producers felt the princess should have something dainty and dignified to shout? Apparently not. “He-Man’s quest and purpose in life was to keep the power of Grayskull going, and because the Horde had come in and there had been so many battles and then they had stolen Adora as a baby, I think she wanted the honor of everything back.”
As if getting schooled by She-Ra weren’t enough of a draw, Alan Oppenheimer, the voice of Skeletor, will also be in attendance to cackle his way through the Q&A with his co-star. According to Britt, the two still fondly recall their days in the recording booth, pulling double, triple or even quadruple duty depending on the needs of the script.
“That part was a little difficult,” she laughed, having voiced Catra, Octavia, Castaspella and Mermista in addition to the dual lead role. “I think there were two days when I was playing like four characters at one time, but we did it.”
Although the memorable performances helped to launch He-Man and She-Ra into the pop-culture stratosphere, the cast didn’t receive a cut of the profits from Mattel’s record-breaking toy sales. “As actors, what we get paid, we get paid and that’s it,” she stated calmly, although others apparently are still up in arms. Toy Masters, a documentary that will be previewed at Power-Con, highlights the continued bickering among former Mattel designers over who originated the cash-cow concepts, as well as interviews with Oppenheimer and Filmation co-founder Lou Scheimer. While it’s clear that Britt has accepted how it all worked out, she conceded with a chuckle, “Yeah, it sucks!”
She-Ra and He-Man have proven resilient properties, with Mattel’s Masters of the Universe Classics toyline churning out new figures on a monthly basis, and rumors of live-action adaptations regularly emerging from Hollywood. Although it seems only a matter of time before the Princess of Power makes a comeback, fans can at least finally sit down with the woman who originated the role and applaud her particular talent for making even the silliest of She-Ra’s adventures entertaining and inspiring. “I feel that I am a fan of hers as much as they are,” the actress said, “so it’s going to be interesting.”
While she isn’t making any promises, it’s possible that the upcoming reunion might even inspire Britt to speak the magic words that won her a place in the hearts of a generation of viewers. “I’m scared to say it, it’s funny,” she revealed. “I want the whole cast together. Maybe if I had the support of the cast and the whole feeling of that, maybe I would do it, but I haven’t said it in a long, long time.”