Zach Callison, Michaela Dietz, Grace Rolek and Deedee Magno Hall provide the voices for Steven Universe, Amethyst, Connie and Pearl on Cartoon Network’s Steven Universe. The foursome sat down to talk about the show at MOMOCON here in Atlanta. Check out what they had to say.
How are you guys enjoying Atlanta, and what are you nerding out about?
Zach- Atlanta’s great. I’ve been here once for MOMOCON and once for MOMOCON (cue laughter). I love it. It’s given a good impression.
Michaela- I’ve been here once before but, it was for a layover and I was in this weird hotel and this guy asked me to play chess. It was just weird, I decided not to. It’s just fun to be here without a weird guy in an elevator.
Grace- It is my first time in Atlanta, so I’m hoping that over the course of the weekend I get to see all the sights, like the aquarium.
Deedee- I have been to Atlanta several times; once with Miss Saigon and once with Wicked, a couple of times with Wicked actually. I recently freaked out about seeing Bismuth cosplayer outside.
Are you guys playing videogames right now, and if so what are you playing?
Zach- I have not had the time I wanted to so I’ve just been playing games on Skype from like five years ago like, World of WarCraft, King of Legends, Civilization, and Mass Effect Andromeda, I’ll hopefully get around to it.
Michaela- I’m just saving up for Steven Universe: Save The Light.
Grace- The last game I played was Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime.
Deedee- I don’t play videogames, but I try to get my kids to stop playing them and to pick up a book.
Do you guys have the opportunity to give your input on how a character would react?
Zach- Sometimes. There’s not a lot of room for like dialogue, but with certain things, yeah.
Michaela- The writing on the show is so good. It’s not like we have to stray far for reactions.
What’s the most stressful thing about voice acting?
Zach- The most challenging part for me was puberty. I’ve got a song postponed now so that my voice can get a bit better.
Michaela- I don’t now if it’s stress per se, but we only have so much time to get the takes done, but you get in your head a little, but you want to bring your best but that’s the most stress for me.
Grace- I feel like it’s the stress free job. I mean working on Steven Universe in particular is very fun. We have a lot of fun.
Deedee- I had another role while I was recording and I had to end up postponing a session so I could get the song right.
Do you have any vocal warm-ups?
Zach- Lip trills. I did one tongue twister that was, “The sick sheik’s sixth sheep’s sick.”
Grace- Tongue twisters are great for voice actors. I had to do “Peter Piper picked a pan of pickled peppers,” but sad.
What’s the best advice you can give for someone trying to break into voice acting?
Zach- Just go to Dee Bradley Baker’s website iwanttobeavoiceactor.com. He made the website and linked a bunch of amazing resources, and it’s all about finding your own sound.
Michaela- My advice is to just keep putting yourself out there and you’ll hear something back. Be authentic and real unless they are looking for something wacky like that.
Grace- I’ve noticed, since I’ve been doing voice over, a shift from cartoon sounding voices to regular speaking voices. If you have a good sounding vice people will just want to listen to that.
Deedee- I also think that being able to do a lot of different voices is a plus, but to embrace your natural voice as well.
For Deedee and Michaela, does voice acting open up roles for you that you might not otherwise be considered for?
Deedee- I think at this point, I’m auditioning for anything and everything, unless she has to have an Asian accent, and I’m horrible at Asian accents. I was born in Portsmouth, Virginia, so I don’t have that accent. But yes absolutely. If you’re voicing a crystal gem, it doesn’t matter what you look like; they’re not human.
Michaela- I would definitely say that voiceovers in general are fairly liberating. The same day I audition to b a rock I could also audition to be a cool Indian chick, I don’t know. Also, do you know that Grace is a quarter Asian?
Grace- Yeah. My mom is half Japanese and a quarter black, so I’m a little bit of a racial amalgam.
Michaela- it’s funny, I was telling Deedee this story. The first day we were recording together, I saw se was going in too, I was like oh man, there’s another Asian chick. I didn’t know we were still auditioning. In my experience there’s only one. And then we get there and everyone’s a minority. And I was convinced for a while that Zach was half Asian, but he’s not (cue laughter).
Zach- Sorry I messed it up (more laughter).
Michaela- But I would say that this show has done so much for so many people, but especially for people of color. It’s sad that it’s taken almost a whole cast to bring notice to it, but that is the one thing that I think we hear a lot. It’s great how Rebecca Sugar (show creator) brought together such a diverse cast.
Grace- I think it’s great that Steven Universe has so much representation for lots of underrepresented communities.