Scooby Doo has a new human pal.
"When he says my name in that Scooby voice, I feel like I'm really getting somewhere with my career," Nzinga Blake said kiddingly.
The 1999 Munster High School graduate and Cartoon Fridays co-host, Tommy Snider, are the first humans ever on the 8-year-old Cartoon Network. Every Friday Blake and Snider regularly get zapped in and out of cartoons to interact with the likes of Scooby, Fred Flintstone, the Powerpuff Girls and Daffy Duck.
Cartoons have always filled her life, said her mother, Hortensia Blake.
Now she lives in them. Blake landed the gig in August after three auditions and works three to seven days a month filming two episodes each day.
It's her dream job.
When she was a sophomore at Munster High, Gary Dean, a Los Angeles sports agent originally from Northwest Indiana, spoke at her school about following your dream.
"He kept in touch with me every month after that and encouraged me to come to California. I've had such strong support from so many people in my life," Blake said.
When she returned home recently, Blake went to Munster High speech teacher Mary York's class to do for those students what Dean had done for her.
"I told them that hard work really pays off and that speech is one of the most essential courses they will take. No matter what career path you take, you have to be able to market yourself," Blake said.
York said the students hung on her every word. Some even got her autographs.
York remembers Blake, who used her first name Christine, as "always so totally animated ... always so into the story she was telling" that people were riveted to her face and voice. York saw the same animation and same intensity during Blake's recent visit.
Blake told the class how fortunate she had been. York said: "Was she lucky? She was lucky because she worked so hard."
Blake's stage-and-screen ambitions only grew during a two-year stint at Indiana University and blossomed when she was one of 15 out of 700 applicants to be accepted into the prestigious University of California School of Film and Television in Los Angeles. She graduated summa cum laude in 2003 with a bachelor of arts degree and plans to pursue her master's in fine art, while continuing to act, write and produce.
The reality shows are starting to knock on her door, but finishing her screenplay, "Hear the Children Cry," about the war in Sierra Leone is at the top of her list.
Hortensia Blake, a registered dietitian at The Methodist Hospitals Southlake Campus, said her self-assured daughter with sparkling brown eyes always wanted to stand out, to be different. That's why she dropped her first name, Christine, and goes by her middle name, the name of a 16th century warrior queen of Angola.
Her father, Cecil Blake, a professor of mass communications at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, previously served as the Sierra Leone minister of information. That job gave his daughter an opportunity to live in Tokyo, Nairobi and the United States and has given her an understanding of world events that belie her 22 years.