Female Ghostbuster Actress Says Franchise Lacks “Representation”

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Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones) in Ghostbusters Answer the Call

Credit: Sony Pictures

If there’s one complaint most fans and audiences don’t have about the Ghostbusters franchise, it’s the lack of diversity. Ghostbusters has always featured characters who represent certain minorities — at least when you get past the original two films.

But not everyone agrees, and in this case, it’s one of the Ghostbusters themselves. On the latest episode of The Ship-It Show, co-host Tara Strong, a well-known voice actor who lent her great vocal talents to the female Ghostbuster Kylie Griffin in the cult animated series Extreme Ghostbusters (1997), had quite a bit to say on the matter.

Kylie Griffin (Tara Strong) screaming in Extreme Ghostbusters
Credit: Columbia TriStar Television Distribution / Bohbot Entertainment

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In explaining how she loved “the idea of a female Ghostbuster inspiring young girls and friends of young girls” at the time the show aired, Strong said the following:

“I’ve always been drawn to magic, and I loved, of course the idea of a female Ghostbuster inspiring young girls and friends of young girls. I was so excited when I booked it. To be an actual Ghostbuster in some sort of professional entertainment way, was like, oh my god, I can say I was a Ghostbuster. It was so exciting and cool, and I still think it is.”

McKenna Grace as Phoebe on the phone in Ghostbusters Afterlife
Credit: Sony Pictures

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Speaking specifically to diversity within the Ghostbusters franchise, however, while Strong applauded Extreme Ghostbusters for being an incredibly progressive show for its time, she expressed some disappointment at her character’s absence in modern pop culture, and also criticized the live-action side of the franchise, which she feels is lacking in diversity, saying:

“I don’t see many Kylie cosplays, and it’s so important. I actually feel like Extreme Ghostbusters was wonderful for representation. We have our first girl Ghostbuster, we had our first guy in a wheelchair Ghostbuster [Garrett Miller], we had all kinds of ethnicities, and I think that’s lacking in a lot of other Ghostbusters iterations. We had a girl movie [Ghostbusters: Answer the Call], but I don’t think there’s ever been an on-camera person in a wheelchair.”

Kylie Griffin (Tara Strong) in Extreme Ghostbusters 1997
Credit: Columbia TriStar Television Distribution / Bohbot Entertainment

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Strong is absolutely right — while some of the Extreme Ghostbusters, including Kylie Griffin, went on to appear in IDW Publishing’s long-running “Ghostbusters” comic book series, they are yet to appear in any of the live-action films. As such, the animated side of Ghostbusters, whether television shows or comic books, remains a lot more diverse than any of the films.

In fact, the comics are where the first female-led Ghostbusters team appeared, and not the 2016 reboot Ghostbusters: Answer the Call (2016) like many fans believe. Eventually, though, characters from that film also made an appearance in the comics.

But while that film was a box office bomb, it does feature an all-female lead cast. Ghostbusters: Afterlife (2021) also introduced two new female Ghostbusters, one of whom is African-American, while one of the male characters is Asian-American.

Ghostbusters at the rock concert in Ghostbusters Answer the Call
Credit: Sony Pictures

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But outside having a diverse range of ethnicities among its characters, is the franchise doing enough where diversity is concerned in general? Well, perhaps the next film should take a page out of Extreme Ghostbusters or those IDW comics.

Whether or not Strong’s character will ever appear in live action remains to be seen, but it’s one of many things Ghostbusters: Afterlife didn’t get right, as it missed the perfect opportunity to introduce her. Should Ghostbusters 4 (2023) rectify this, though, it would be a good segue to bring Extreme Ghostbuster Garrett Miller (voiced by Jason Marsden) into the fold too.

Ghostbusters Answer the Call character poster
Credit: Sony Pictures

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Either way, it seems that Extreme Ghostbusters holds a special place in Strong’s heart. While it wasn’t much of a hit at the time it aired in 1997 (it was canceled after just one season), it has since developed a cult following within the franchise.

“I don’t know that I knew initially that it would carry fandom this long, of course,” Strong went on to say. “I was hopeful. All the actors, when they book something, they hope it goes on forever, and people love it, even past, when we’re no longer on the planet anymore. Look at all the things Kevin Conroy touched. We’re all so moved by his work and always will be, but it was a wonderful, wonderful time in my life.”

Ghostbusters Afterlife character ensemble poster
Credit: Sony Pictures

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As per Sony Pictures, here’s the synopsis for Ghostbusters: Answer the Call:

Ghostbusters makes its long-awaited return with Director Paul Feig’s unique and hilarious take on the classic, supernatural comedy, led by the freshest minds in comedy today, Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, and Chris Hemsworth. Together they team-up to save Manhattan from a sudden invasion of spirits, spooks and slime that engulfs the city. Robert Abele of TheWrap says, “This new A-team of ghostbusters are fresh and funny.”

Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy) in in Ghostbusters Answer the Call
Credit: Sony Pictures

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Ghostbusters: Answer the Call stars Kristen Wiig (Erin Gilbert), Melissa McCarthy (Abby Yates), Leslie Jones (Patty Tolan), Kate McKinnon (Jillian Holtzmann), Chris Hemsworth (Kevin Beckman), and cameos from original Ghostbusters icons Sigourney Weaver, Annie Potts, Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, and Ernie Hudson, all of whom play new characters.

Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones) in Ghostbusters: Answer the Call
Credit: Sony Pictures

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Ghostbusters 4 will be released on December 20, 2023.

Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed is out now, and VR game Ghostbusters: Rise of the Ghost Lord (2023) is expected some time this year. There’s also a Ghostbusters animated series and a Ghostbusters animated movie in the works. A new “Ghostbusters” comic book series is also expected in 2023.

Lady Slimer with Slimer in the Ecto-1 in Ghostbusters: Answer the Call
Credit: Sony Pictures

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Do you think there’s enough representation in Ghostbusters? Let Inside the Magic know in the comments down below!

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