Alison Sealy-Smith Dissects X-Men ’97 Episode 6’s Unexpected Turns

Storm voice actor Alison Sealy-Smith opens up about how it felt to come back as the iconic Marvel heroine in X-Men ’97 and Ororo’s latest evolution.

Storm's mutant powers glowing in her eyes while struggling in another episode

WARNING: Major spoilers from X-Men ’97 episode 6.

X-Men ’97 star Alison Sealy-Smith breaks down the big development for Storm in the Marvel animated series and how this will change her journey. As X-Men: The Animated Series has found new life through Disney+’s X-Men ’97, the sequel series is resisting the most beloved portrayal of the Marvel mutants. While fans of the original series are getting to continue living with this version of the X-Men that they grew up with, Marvel Studios is also gaining a whole new generation of viewers.

One of the major players who went through a game-changing arc in X-Men ’97 season 1 was Ororo Munroe, a.k.a. Storm, who lost her mutant powers in episode 2. Determined to restore her abilities, Storm has been on a journey with Forge, while also dealing with her inner demons throughout these circumstances. But the ending of X-Men ’97 episode 6 saw Storm finally get her powers back, setting her up for the remaining episodes of season 1.

Following the fallout from X-Men ’97 episode 6, S.R interviewed Storm herself, as Sealy-Smith shared her experience about getting to explore the Marvel heroine’s new chapter. Throughout the interview, Sealy-Smith chats about how the events of X-Men ’97 episode 6 will be crucial for Storm going forward, how she dealt with going through this storyline, and whether or not she will have a forgiving heart for a certain character who was believed to be dead.

Alison Sealy-Smith On Returning To X-Men ’97: “Jump In With Everything You’ve Got”

Force Reveals Truth To Storm In X-Men '97 Episode 4.

Where Storm starts off in the series really shocked me. Episode 2 made me cry because I think Storm is the heart and soul of the X-Men team. With the series taking away Storm’s powers for an extended period of time, how much did that change your approach to voicing her in this new state?

Alison Sealy-Smith: It didn’t. You jump in with everything you’ve got and you go with what’s on the page. Now, remember, that the very first thing I think I recorded for this season was, ‘I am Storm, mistress of the elements! So we picked right back up with her power and everything that she’s known for, and there she was in all her radiant, powerful glory and then you see what happens. To me, there’s something really beautiful and spontaneous about what it is that we do with voice acting.

I’m a theater artist, so you have script months in advance and you’re sitting at home and you’re pouring over it and you’re doing your research and all of this stuff, and there are other iterations of it. So you go to see what somebody else did with it. With this one, it’s different and I am not a comic book person. I always feel so terrible when I say that [laughs] I feel like I’m admitting to some awful sin or fault or flaw, but I did not grow up with the comics. I was telling somebody the other day, I come from a sort of very traditional middle class Caribbean family, and my father simply would not allow comics in the house.

I’m not quite sure what that was about, but that was supposed to guide us to be reading proper books and proper literature and let’s not get lost in the Archie Comics. Because I don’t know a lot of the backstories, each time I come to this and I get a script, I go, ‘Oh my God, what the hell? She’s what? Well, what does this mean? Where are we going to go?’ and then you get the next script and you realize, ‘Okay, now I’ve got to find something else inside me to be able to tackle this. I can’t just sit on my Shakespearean voice in canting and commanding.’ I’ve got to go deep and I’ve got to figure out what it feels like to lose all connection to everything that you love, your whole identity, your sense of self. It’s been beautiful that way, and I love that I don’t get to make any big broad decisions about what I’m going to go in there and do this time. In a way, I’m a little bit ahead of the audience, but I’m right there going, “How am I going to handle this?”

When you’re recording your work, how much do you know about other storylines happening in the show or do you get to experience the same surprise as the audience with the full episodes dropping week to week?

Alison Sealy-Smith: Well, I get the full script. I do know what’s going on. I do get the art. Now, we don’t get scripts way in advance, so I can’t tell you what’s going to happen. Well, I can’t now because I would’ve seen the whole thing and what I can remember. But usually, now, I can make another confession, which is that after you give the whole script to read so that you know what’s happening, because there’s always context. Context is important. You can’t pull your stuff out of context. You have to know what your colleagues are doing, what’s happening in your world and how your reality is shifting, all of that kind of stuff.

But after that, it’s just all about Storm! [laughs] If somebody came and asked me after that and said, ‘Oh my gosh, whatever happened to so-and-so in that episode,’ then I’m going, ‘So-and-so was in the episode, were they really?’ Because I’m just trying to get through mine and try to understand it, but because I have had, I think even from the time that I was in my theater days, I had so many scripts sometimes in my head, and I was often being called to audition at the same time as I would’ve been learning my other role.

I do a bit like a computer once I step off stage, and it is closing night, if you ask me the next day, Joseph, to do that incredible monologue from blah, blah, blah, it’s gone. It’s gone because I have moved on to the next thing. So at this point for me, and these, of course, are episodes that we recorded a year ago, so I’m going, ‘Oh wow, this is cool. I’d forgotten that!’ or ‘Hey, that’s some nice writing. That’s some really nice writing,’ I love that.

Storm’s Heart Of Gold

storm in x-men 97 episode 6

This week’s episode is very Storm-centric, with Storm forgiving Forge for even leading her to certain death. What is it about Storm that allows her to show that kind of empathy and forgiveness as well as she was being wronged so deeply?

Alison Sealy-Smith: I think when you’re as connected to the forces of nature as Storm is, then you have to keep an open heart. This is somebody who channels the power of the universe, who controls those most primal elements. I do not think that you can channel that kind of energy, you cannot open your body up to the power of lightning and command it unless your heart is open. I do believe that that’s what it does. And if you believe, for example, that with The Adversary, the fact that The Adversary is an owl and it is beautiful how they’ve stayed within the natural to get her, and I just feel as though somebody who is that tuned in to the natural world, to the birth and death and regeneration to the winds that blow.

I don’t quite understand how you can do that and remain stuck. She talks about how the weather is stuck, and Storm is not usually a stuck person. She is very open and I think that’s where her forgiveness comes from and we don’t know because this episode is so much about your personal demons and fighting them, who knows if not being able to forgive if holding on to resentment was one of the things that she was working through, and that she comes out on the other end of that as well and manages to fully forgive.

The Return Of Charles Xavier

Charles Xavier and Gladiator Discuss Kipling

Following the reveal that Charles Xavier is alive, how do you think Storm and the rest of the X-Men are going to react to that news? Do you think Storm will show Charles Xavier the same kind of forgiveness that she showed Forge?

Alison Sealy-Smith: Now you’re asking me to go back and remember! [laughs] The Storm that I know will accept him, especially this Storm who has gone through the fires of hell and had certain things burned, I would prefer, but for me, it’s going to be just as interesting [laughs] as it is for you to get back into it and go, ‘Okay, yes, that’s what happened and what’s going to happen in the next season.’ That’s the beautiful thing about how this whole thing is being handled by Marvel and Disney, the fact that we keep wanting to know more and I’m in a lot of the same position of going, ‘Well, I have my thoughts on what my girl would do, and I want to see what my girl’s going to do!’ [laughs]

Storm Vs The Adversary

Storm from X-Men '97 next to The Adversary

Storm’s battle against The Adversary is arguably the scariest fight in the animated show’s entire run. How did you embody that kind of fear in the character that you deliver in her lines while recording? Because you did such a phenomenal job in this episode, every episode really!

Alison Sealy-Smith: Well, I mean, it was wonderful and, of course, when we made the first pass through the episodes, I played The Adversary first. So we did The Adversary arc and I was doing my usual thing, ‘I don’t want to know what Storm’s doing! I have no idea what Storm’s doing, I am focusing mostly on The Adversary. I have to find this thing.’ Then, after that, and a good bit of time passed before they called me in and I was in the studio to do the other one. How do I do it? I’m an actress, this is what I do, this is what I’m paid for, is to go to those places and to find that. I don’t think I’m of a certain vintage, and I’ve lived a really nice full life, which means that I have known pain and grief and horror and terror and joy and excitement.

I know these, it’s just that for a lot of us, they become hard to access and then even harder to express. The one thing that an actor has got to be able to do is not to be afraid of the big emotions, to go down into those deep dark places and not just allow yourself to feel them, but to figure out how do I best express them so that they’re accessible for other human beings? Of course, this one for me was exceptionally terrifying because of the idea that The Adversary, this evil shape-shifting demon was able to figure out what my weaknesses, what my fears are, and turn them against me. To me, that was more terrifying than anything else. For something to be right there going, ‘No, you’re not afraid of death, you are afraid to live.’

That’s a different kind of terror. Yes, there is the enormity of it’s a scary being to look at and when it sort of comes around the corner like that, but the idea that it has this window into your soul is absolutely terrifying. So yes, I was glad that I have had the acting experience that I have had, and I am glad that I’ve had the life experience that I have had to be able to go to those places and to know what terror is and to know what resilience is, and to know what it’s like to fall down deep to feel like you can’t get back up and then get back up.

Alison Sealy-Smith’s Reaction To Storm’s New Look In X-Men ’97

Storm flies and conjured lightning while wearing her new 70s-style suit in X-Men '97.

What was your reaction to seeing Storm suit up in her iconic comic costume from Giant Size X-Men #1?

Alison Sealy-Smith: What is every woman’s dream to be able to change their look? So for me, it was coming in and going, ‘Oh, Mohawk, looking good!’ and then there was all the talk about people who preferred the long hair. This was one time where I got to say to myself, ‘I know something!’ Because at first I was going, ‘Okay, there’s all this talk about the Mohawk, but I don’t think this is going to be good.’ Then to see it, and because I haven’t been exposed to the comics that much, my first reaction was, ‘That’s hot, that’s cool. Oh, there’s the hair!’ and then I get to go back and go, ‘That’s her original look. That is so cool!’ The writers and producers at Marvel, this is so cool. But I think my very first reaction was just as a woman going, ‘Yeah, I like that. I like that!’ [laughs]

About X-Men ’97

X-Men ’97 revisits the iconic era of the 1990s as The X-Men, a band of mutants who use their uncanny gifts to protect a world that hates and fears them, are challenged like never before, forced to face a dangerous and unexpected new future.

Check out our X-Men ’97 other interviews here:

Jake Castorena
Emi Yonemura & Chase Conley
The Newton Brothers
Brad Winderbaum

New episodes of X-Men ’97 season 1 drops Wednesday, exclusively on Disney+.

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