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Mai from GunParade March

How did you get into the Voice Acting Business?
After I graduated from college, I landed a job at a radio station (WCCW FM). I started out on the 7-midnight shift, then ended up hosting a morning show. As part of the job, we had to do dozens of commercials. I found I liked the commercials more than the on-air work and left radio. I moved to Chicago to study at the Second City and I got an agent. One day she sent me to a studio to audition for a soap opera. The studio was owned by Joby Cerney (the voice of the Pillsbury Doughboy and Raid Bugs). I introduced myself and had the guts to ask him if he'd listen to the demo tape I made from my radio days. He was kind enough to oblige. He was also kind enough to say I had the talent to compete as a professional voice actor. I listened to dozens of demos from other working talent and made my first real demo with his engineer. I've updated it through the years as I've gotten better. It serves as my calling card/resume. Since then I've done commercials, games, Television shows and corporate narration, but it all started with that first demo.

What is SD Gundam?
SD Gundam (Superior Defender Gundam) is a computer animated series using the unique technique of cell-shading, about a young boy named Shute who happens across a plan by ‘The Dark Axis’ to destroy Neotopia by turning it into concrete. Concerned about the safety of his world, Shute then teams up with and befriends a gang of Gundams, and joins a secret organization entitled ‘Superior Defender Gundam Force’. Together they battle against the evil Dark axis to protect Neotopia and perhaps the entire universe. The series ran on Cartoon Network's Toonami programming block, a cluster of action oriented programming targeted for young males. Deborah voices Shute, one of the lead characters.

.:What is GunParade March?
Gunparade March follows follows the lives of the 5,121st Platoon in a galactic war for the planet, who have just added a mysterious girl named Mai Shibamura to their ranks. After an alien race abruptly ended World War II and began to slaughter the human race, high school students are recruited to join the war and become pilots of advanced mecha called Humanoid Walking Tanks. Together they must fight another world war, but in this a turn of fate, one to save their own. Deborah voices one of the lead characters, Mai.

More information on the series can be found here.

What advice do you have for people with Voice acting aspirations?
Study acting and improvisation first. Voice acting is about the acting. You can learn to expand your vocal range and create characters, but if all of your characters are just you with a funny voice (as opposed to believable individual characters with their own lives and personalities), you won't get much work. It's also helpful to take a workshop on looping (matching voice to picture), if you want to do Anime, since it's all animated before it's voiced and you need to work on timing.

How do you hear about jobs auditions?
Usually I get a call from a casting director, or from a producer I've worked with in the past. I don't have an agent right now and all of my work comes from referrals. If I'm doing a show or game, I'm often asked for recommendations of other actors. We all help each other.

When you record for a character, do you get to see all of the show/movie/game?
Ha! Whoooo! Wow- that's a good one!. Oh, you're serious? No. We usually don't see anything (script, animation etc.) until we show up for the recording session. The director fills us in on what's happening at that moment and we just jump right in. That's why I recommend that you study improvisation if you want to do this work. You watch the screen (if it's an Anime) and react when the character does. In the case of a game, you only see the lines of the scenes you're doing and maybe a brief description of the action.

Do you approach each job the same way (I.E. Promo the same as Animation)?
Well, it's all about talking to someone. If I'm doing animation, my character is reacting to another character in the scene. In promo or commercial work, I need to imagine someone specific to talk to. If I do my job well, the person watching TV or listening to the radio will feel like I'm talking directly to them.

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