The Autobots finally have their chance to roll out on Paramount’s new streaming platform through the upcoming series, Transformers: Earthspark! As part of the show’s upcoming release, I was given the chance to interview several cast members including Sydney Mikayla (Robby Malto), Zion Broadnax (Morgan Malto), Kathreen Khavari (Twitch Malto), Zeno Robinson (Thrash Malto), and Cissy Jones (Elita-1).
Transformers: Earthspark introduces a new generation of Transformers robots called Terrans – the first Transformers robots to be born on Earth – and together with the humans who welcome them in and care for them, they’ll redefine what it means to be a family. The cast includes Sydney Mikayla (Robby Malto), Zion Broadnax (Morgan Malto), Benni Latham (Dot Malto), Jon Jon Briones (Alex Malto), Kathreen Khavari (Twitch Malto), Zeno Robinson (Thrash Malto), Danny Pudi (Bumblebee), Alan Tudyk (Optimus Prime), Rory McCann (Megatron), Cissy Jones (Elita-1), and Diedrich Bader (Mandroid).
On a personal note, I’d like to give my thanks to Paramount+ and Nickelodeon for this opportunity!
THH: What can you say about the world, from Elita’s perspective, that has led her to this point since fans have been so used to the idea of Autobots and Decepticons fighting each other from the 2010s movies to shows like Transformers: Prime?
JONES: So, you know, imagine you’ve been fighting this battle for eons. You’ve been fighting the same group of people for eons and suddenly, you’re not fighting anymore and you have to find a way to be nice. I imagine it’s a bit of an uneasy truce even though the truce is necessary to face the oncoming threat and I think a lot of that is going to get to play out in the series as it goes along, I can’t wait for y’all to see it.
THH: You have been acting in video games for a long time, including several characters from The Walking Dead and Firewatch’s Delilah. What inspiration and experience did you gain from voicing those roles that you applied to form the personality of Elita-1?
JONES: That’s a good question! I got into voice over right as [Telltale’s] The Walking Dead. Katjaa was my first job in The Walking Dead and since then, games and animation have become more and more realistic and more grounded and less like “Oh, I’m a walking character!” you know what I mean? A character like this in a show like this fun but still real, you know? She’s not gonna go out and be like ‘crazy pants, robot lady.’ There’s a realness to her and there’s a human-ness, if you will, to her character, which I think is very much informed by characters like Delilah and characters from The Walking Dead.
THH: Optimus Prime and Elita-1 have had this strong relationship from the start of the series and we continually see them providing almost an omniscient guiding hand to help the new Terrans become Transformers. What do you think is the most important lesson the Terrans can learn from Elita and Optimus?
JONES: “Teamwork makes the dream work.” I think Optimus and Elita-1 have such an easy rapport with each other because they know each other so well, especially in this iteration of the show, of the universe. You know, they get one another and they get where each of their strengths and weaknesses lie and I think that’s something, honestly, we could all learn as humans and that we can’t do all the things and that is the importance of network and community and support structure. So, the Terrans being new beings on this planet, I think if they learn that, which it seems like they are with the Malto kids and with each other, then rock and roll!
THH: We know that Robby and Morgan have this physical connection to Thrash and Twitch thanks to their hand gadgets, but they also begin to have an emotional and familial connection that is reflective from the humans to the Terrans. What can any of you say about the development of this reflective connection?
ROBINSON: That’s a good question. I think about the connection between the Terrans and Robbie and Mo [Morgan] and the Malto family, I think it’s an element that allows, especially the Terrans, to really connect with human emotions and what that means. It also brings them closer together because being able to feel what the other feels, I think Kathreen and I said this earlier, it gives us a sense of empathy toward another person, which is kind of how we want to be with each other. We want to empathize and be able to feel what the other feels and be able to be there, to hold space for them and support them and it enhances our strong bond and enhances [the Malto kids’] already strong bond into stronger bonds to create a stronger family dynamic.
THH: This is actually the first time we’re getting to see Transformers being birthed on Earth and Thrash and Twitch are very unique in that nature. However, with them being both Cybertronian and “Human,” they have two identities that sort of clash. Do you think identity plays a big role in their development throughout the show?
KHAVARI: Yeah, absolutely! I think that [the Terrans] are trying to find, they’re trying to find the balance of who they are, you know, these very first, Earth-born Transformers robots that have elements of both ‘bot’ and human and I think they’re really trying to navigate both sides and really trying to understand who they are. That’s a huge part of it, I think that identity is, it’s really a big part of their story arc, each one of them.
ROBINSON: I agree, I think that identity has an integral role in not just Twitch and Thrash, but in the entire show. I think with Robbie being a teenager and kind of on the cusp of trying to figure out who he is and Mo, you know, being who she is and standing firm and what she believes in and Twitch and Thrash and how they’re new and new to this environment and being caught in the middle of these two worlds and trying to find their place in it and with this new family. And there’s a lot more touched stones of identity when it comes to diversity and inclusion that is touched upon throughout the entire show. I think as fans watch the show, they’ll see that identity also plays a huge role symbolically as well.
Transformers: Earthspark premieres on Paramount+ November 11.