April 6-7, 2024
June Supa-Star Sean Schemmel, aka Dragon Ball Z legend, Goku, gave Sydney fans a crash course in breaking into voice acting during his panel alongside fellow Z Fighter, Chris Sabat. Take note!
Here’s what you need to know:
“You need to really love it because it’s going to be hard, and it’s going to be difficult to make a living doing it.
I always recommend that people who are interested in doing it get involved in a tangential part of production, because if you’re working 40 hours a week as a waiter and you’re trying to be a voice actor, that’s going to be a real slog. Find a way to get a job in a recording studio as the receptionist, or as the janitor, or as the production assistant, or some way so you’re listening to voice actors all the time and you’re around them all the time.
Justin Cook, who’s the Head of Production at Funimation, was playing in a rock band and working construction or something, and then he got a job offer to just run the recording board through a friend who worked at Funimation. [He] watched, learned, studied, and then after a couple of years, our producer Barry Watson was retiring, and he thought [Justin] was so talented and good, he got the part of Yusuke Urameshi in Yu Yu Hakusho, and then eventually got promoted to Head of Production. So he was able to do that because he just kind of worked his way up by doing grunt work, being around it.
You also make social connections; a big part of it is being connected. And so, sometimes, it can be like this – you work at reception and they go, ‘Oh, a guy didn’t show! Hey, we’ve got this small part, you can do some funny voices, do that voice!’ And then you do a good job, they go, ‘Oh, you’re not bad! We’re going to try you in something else.’ And then they give you a bigger part and a bigger part, and it can happen that way. But you always want to be around production, and if you can’t do that, you want to take acting classes, study acting, practice voices, practice doing impersonations. Not necessarily to put them on your reel, unless you’re going to be a professional impersonator, but to stretch your vocal muscles and your vocal skillset.
When I moved to LA, I downloaded every single audition from all the agencies and just listened to everybody… and I would copy them, because sometimes you can copy somebody and if it’s bad, it’s a new voice if it doesn’t even sound like that guy. For example, my voice of Amidamaru on Shaman King is an exact- well, not exact – is an attempted copy at Dan Green’s Yugi Muto.
If you want to work in America, you have to master the American accent. Some Australians fool me, some don’t. Some French people fool me, some don’t. The secret is: if you’re going to do an American accent, it has to be from somewhere in America… you definitely want to master that if you want to work in America. Lots of great Australian actors come to America, we’ve got a lot of them, they’re amazing!”
Lead image: Sean Schemmel at Supanova Sydney. Pic by Ewan Ly.