She's been making fans cry every Tuesday on This Is Us, but Chrissy Metz is ready to make parents and kids laugh with her latest show

By Karen Mizoguchi
November 13, 2018 12:00 PM

She’s been making fans cry every Tuesday on This Is Us, but Chrissy Metz is ready to make parents and kids laugh with her latest show.

The actress, 38, tells PEOPLE she’s landed her “bucket list” role with Kung Fu Panda: The Paws of Destiny, the upcoming animated web television series produced by DreamWorks Animation Television and to be released for Amazon Prime Video on Nov. 16.

“Animated movies are some of my favorites and it’s on my bucket list to play one, so this is doubly exciting. It was a surprise and really exciting,” Metz says. “I love comedy, so it’s always, always something I wanted to do. I feel like I can stretch that and keep those muscles that I may not use with the very dramatic roles that I play.”

Metz voices fan favorite character Mei Mei, who was voiced by Kate Hudson in 2016’s Kung Fu Panda 3.

“Mei Mei is a babe, a cutie patootie. She’s definitely a character in that she is very sure of what she wants. The diva, the actress but she does have a very big heart and she does mean well. She definitely provides a lot of comic relief,” Metz shares.

Chrissy Metz
| Credit: Charley Gallay/Getty

The This Is Me author also says Mei Mei could be her “cutest” role yet.

“I’m grateful that I get to do all sorts of things but this has been probably the cutest,” Metz says. “She’s really fun, quite opinionated and not afraid to express her opinions and what she wants. It’s definitely the most fun I had in terms of good, wholesome fun.”

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Kung Fu Panda: The Paws of Destiny marks Metz’s first role where she is not in front of the camera — but that was not the reason she signed on.

“It has nothing to do with weight. I wasn’t hired because I was or wasn’t a particular size,” Metz clarifies.

Mei Mei
| Credit: Dreamworks

“It was like, ‘Let’s speak with Chrissy because she always wanted to do voiceover work specifically animated characters.’ The fact that I get to play a panda bear, it just happened,” she says. “Those things continue to happen where much like other actors who have come before me it’s about ‘Can you portray this character?’ It has nothing to do with the way anybody looks or whether or not they fit a particular mold. It’s about, ‘Can you convey the emotions of this really awesome character?’ ”

Above all, Metz wants her young fans to take away an important message from Kung Fu Panda: The Paws of Destiny.

Mei Mei
| Credit: Dreamworks

“I know how instrumental and informative the young years are for children. You have to treat the soil. So many kids are taught things that are projections of their own families or parents. The show is conveying a message about knowing how important just how good just as you are,” she says. “It’s really about accepting yourself as you are and having someone believe in you before you believe in yourself. It’s wonderful because that’s the reason that we’re here to evolve.”

As for her own destiny, Metz is looking forward to more roles that will expand her acting range.

“I would like to think it’s just the beginning. I’ve waited for 12 pretty, long years in Los Angeles to have this particular career. I also know that every single job, every lesson really prepared me for this journey that I’m on,” she says. “When you touch people’s lives by the job that you do and the person that you are, that’s ultimately what we all want. I think I’m sort of at the beginning but gratefully moving toward all the things that I dream of doing, checking off the bucket list. Hopefully, this is just the beginning.”