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Road to the Oscars 2023: ‘Marcel the Shell with Shoes On’ star Jenny Slate talks emotions and creativity

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George Evan Photo

Jenny Slate has been voicing the 1-inch-tall sentient shell Marcel for over a decade. Her journey with the character, which started as a bit during a stand-up comedy routine and evolved into a popular short film series on YouTube, now finds her as the lead of an Oscar-nominated feature.

Marcel the Shell with Shoes On is up for Best Animated Feature at this year’s Academy Awards, and Slate opened up to ABC Audio about the biggest obstacle she had to overcome to be able to get to this moment.

“The really incorrect assumption that I would have to be only positive all the time or totally perfect or 100 percent confident in order to be able to do my creative work,” Slate says. “In fact, it’s the variations in my emotions and the way that I can kind of all try to hold them at once that has led me to today.”

Slate explains that getting over the notion of perfection was hard, but ultimately the most rewarding thing for her creativity.

“I think in our culture, we certainly have tended to hold up people who just seem like they’re totally confident, they’re totally blessed, and all they had to do was kind of arrive and then persevere and feel good about themselves,” Slate says. “But, especially artists, a lot of our work comes from perceiving ourselves as fragile, or, you know, people of many dimensions. You just can’t be one thing.”

The 95th annual Academy Awards ceremony airs Sunday, March 12, only on ABC.

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