"How Can I Become A Voice Actor?"
By Tiffany Grant ( Nov. 2008)  

I am often contacted about how someone might get into the field of voice acting. Here's my response to a recent questioner.

Within our field, I am pretty well known, but then I have been doing this for nearly 15 years. The thing is, I was the first person to be hired in the state of Texas as an anime voice actor. Nowadays, there are hundreds (maybe thousands) of very experienced voice actors in Houston, Dallas, Ft. Worth and Austin. Therefore, my personal experience doesn't really apply to someone today. However, one thing I have noticed over the years talking to voice actors throughout the industry, is that we all have a fairly similar beginning.

My background, like that of most actors, was in theatre: elementary through high school and college as well as community theatre and local acting schools. When I got a call back in February 1994 from a friend who knew about ADV's first auditions, I was super excited. I made an appointment, and I went in for the audition. Since I was a trained, experienced actor, I felt pretty confident in my audition and my ability to make choices about the characters I was reading for - even though I had NO experience in that medium.

As it happens, I was hired on the spot to voice the lead female role in ADV's first dubbed project ("Guy - Double Target"). After that, they would call me every time they were doing a new show to either have me audition or to just offer me a role. As the years progressed, I was offered the opportunity to audition for - and subsequently work on - two video games. Also, I made connections with the folks up at FUNimation in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area, and I have since done many jobs with them. I even worked for a time with the now defunct Illumitoon in Ft. Worth (they only released a few shows).

So, I would say originally there was an element of luck involved, but I was also prepared to take advantage of that opportunity. After that, it was a matter of building a reputation as being reliable and having a wide range.

"I graduated this last summer from high school and I was thinking of things I would like to become and this is one of them. I was wondering if you could explain to me the criteria and knowledge required for the job, such as in college; what classes should I take or what area should I focus on?"

ACTING. It is entirely unrealistic to set out to be an anime voice actor. Period. I do not make a living at it, and I've been doing it for a LONG time. I believe you are asking me about voice ACTING, and the acting is the key part of this. I do not have a degree of any kind. Some actors go to college and get a four year degree and never make a living as actors, and some are high school dropouts who become movie stars. There is no degree or piece of paper that will ever, ever get you one single acting job. The training, however, is very important. Trust me when I say that no one ever is going to give a crap about your GPA when they ask you to audition for a role.

I'm not saying you shouldn't go to college or get a degree or whatever, I just want to be clear that it will never, ever get you one acting job. Ever. I loved college, and I had some great drama teachers. I believe those classes were invaluable. Many people make important connections in college, too.

The thing is to get as much training and experience as you possibly can. Work on school or community theatre productions. Be in student and independent films. The vast majority of voice actors I know got into anime because they were in a play or independent film with someone who was already working in anime.

If you get an audition for any kind of role in any medium, the only criteria that is important is how you do on the audition. That's it.

"If I may hear your experience and how you got to where you are that would be great."

Well, I've pretty much laid that out. Everyone has a different path, but they key is still training and experience. You also need to know the market you are in and what jobs are available where you are. As far as anime voice acting, the only US studios are in NY, LA, Houston and Ft. Worth/Dallas.

"Mostly I have just heard a few voice training classes and to have REALLY good connections."

I really didn't have much in the way of voice training before I got into anime, although it is beneficial as part of your acting training. In acting classes, you learn proper breathing techniques, how to project, how to overcome speech impediments, etc. Still, ACTING classes are the most important thing. And "Connection"? I dunno. I can never decide if that makes me want to laugh or vomit. The way you meet people who can help you is by DOING the thing you want to do. I can't even count the number of actors I know who were "discovered" by an anime director who saw them in a play. So what "connections" did those folks have? When you get out there and start working on plays and independent films, you will meet people who can help you get other work. Simple as that.

"Also that you go to auditions and it's very selective and a tough life until you get your first break."

It's true about going to a lot of auditions, but the one word that really jumped out at me here was "until." You are in a fantasy. I have been working as a professional actor for almost fifteen years, and every day, every week is a struggle. I have no way of knowing how much money I will make this month or the next. I don't know if I'll get an audition this week, much less a job. There is NEVER any certainty in acting. I have an agent, and I do get jobs that way as well as through other outside connections that have nothing to do with anime. I have no 401K, no retirement plan, no paid vacation or sick days, and I buy my own health insurance. I do what I can on my end to get work, but being an actor is ALWAYS TOUGH. Getting your foot in the door is only the beginning, NOT the end.

"If you could pass on any experience and wisdom down to me I would appreciate it sooo much! I know your a very busy lady too so thank you for taking the time."

You are sincerely welcome. I realize that some of my information (okay, maybe a lot!) is not so uplifting and rosy as you might have wanted to hear, but I feel I have to be honest. I've worked in a talent agency (8 years) and as a casting assistant in addition to my various acting jobs, so I'm quite familiar with the many ins and outs of show business. I won't sugar coat it for anyone. As crazy as it is though, I don't see myself doing anything else, which is why I plan to spend the rest of the day updating my website and the casting director websites. Our country is in recession, so companies aren't spending as much on advertising which means fewer opportunities for me to work in commercials. Also, illegal downloading has decimated the anime industry worldwide, meaning I work significantly less now in that field than I did a few years ago.

Please keep in mind that there are many avenues to work as an actor and a voice actor: stage, TV & radio commercials, video games, toys, audio books, on-hold messaging, radio and so many different forms of podcasting and web-based entertainment, too.

Good luck in your endeavors!


"Notes About the Live Action Evangelion Movie"
By Tiffany Grant ( Nov. 2005)  

As you can imagine, I have received a large number of questions
inquiring about various aspects of the announced live-action
Evangelion movie. As I answered each question, I would add on
to my earlier response
, which is how I came up with this "article"
on the subject. I hope this will address your concerns.

First off, there are 26 TV episodes and two movies in the Eva
library (not to mention the as yet unfinished manga series by
co-creator Sadamoto). The first goal is to produce a movie that
encapsulates the most important elements of the early part of
the series so that the viewer will not have to have seen the
aforementioned 15 or so hours of video, and still leave room
for one or two (maybe more?) follow up films that can finish
off the story.

The movie is being produced jointly by Gainax (of course),
ADV and WETA. If you are somehow NOT familiar with the
WETA Workshop, this is the incredible studio founded by
Peter Jackson in New Zealand that created the Lord of the
Rings films - for which they just won an unprecedented
number of Academy awards in a clean sweep of all categories
in which they were nominated. By watching the fantastic
documentaries on the LOTR DVDs, you can get an excellent
idea of the kind of attention to detail that this group gives
to everything they do.

Also, if you have read the LOTR, I think you will see that the
characters in that iconic tome have been very faithfully
brought to life. In fact, in a film adaptation of the second
most read book in the English language (the Bible is the first),
it is pretty well unanimously agreed that WETA got it exactly
right. Bearing that in mind, I have every reason to have
confidence that the same folks who hand glued every hair
on each hobbit foot, will do a spectacular job with our NGE

Keep in mind that WETA will not be doing this in a vacuum
either, as they will be supervised by people at both Gainax
and ADV (such as my husband, of course).

As for the "slug" names used in the preliminary script
(NOT the final version!!!) which appear on the production
drawings, they are only used so as not to refer to them as
"Pilot A" and "Captain B" etc. As has been widely discussed,
the cast will be international, and mostly of European descent.
Meaning, for example, if Daniel Radcliffe (Anime Insider's
suggestion - NOT mine!) were to play the lead male role, it
would be pretty stupid to call an ENGLISH boy "Shinji."
Therefore, "Kate Rose" for example is the name they are
using for the designs is in place of "Pilot of 02" or whatever.

As no actors have yet been cast, the pre-production drawings
are simply pictures that are drawn of imaginary people in place
of having a headless body in a plug suit. The artists are trying
to design what a real-life plug suit will look like, and it would
seem easier to do (and better to look at!) if the person also has
a head. Remember - we don't know what the suits are even made
of! Rubber? Plastic? Leather? The sketches are part of the early
costuming process, and I am quite certain that when a director
is found, he or she will seek out the best people for the roles.
It seems quite doubtful that they would try to find a person to
match a drawing.

It may also be of interest to note that there is a genuine desire to
cast kids of the right age to play the main roles - NOT 22 year-olds
to "play younger." Therefore, it is difficult to speculate at this early
stage on who will play these roles since it is not possible to tell
right now when principal filming will begin.

The show is in VERY early stages of pre-production, so nothing is
final yet. ADV was just trying to share a little Eva goodness with
everyone by showing off some of the thousands of production
drawings that have been produced. I think they are fabulous,
personally, and I eagerly await each new development in the project.

I believe you can all rest easy knowing that the films will be everything
and more that we ever thought they could be.


"In Defense of Asuka"
By Tiffany Grant (Circa 1998)

Okay, I know - I hear it all the time - she's annoying.  There.  I've said  
it.  But wait!  There IS more...  Asuka is also very misunderstood.  I'm sure  
some of you are probably wondering: "what gives?"  The American  
VA for Asuka is writing about herself?  Not at all - this is about HER.  
Now I realize that this being a site about Asuka's VA, I am probably  
"preaching to the choir" as they say, but I feel it's worth being said.  
In the 13 or 14 months it took me to voice all of Asuka's episodes,  
I really feel like I got to know her intimately - she became a part of me.  
She's kinda like my kid sister, which is why I feel the need to stick up  
for her, so here goes...  

The only Eva pilot who actually likes her job, Asuka is a breed apart.  A  
mother who left her, a father and stepmother who didn't care...  How'd you  
expect her to be "normal"?  As if there is such a thing a "normal" in this  
series...  And now I will admit a terrible secret - I LIKE Asuka.  No, I mean  
it!  I really do!  With the odds stacked insurmountably against her, she  
triumphed (for a time anyway) over her own fears and inadequacies and against  
humanity's worst enemies - the angels.  She didn't let anyone hold her down.  
She took pride (some might say TOO much pride) in her accomplishments and  
steadfastly refused to take no for an answer.  Okay, she IS also beautiful  
AND intelligent (a COLLEGE degree by age 14!), but those are not the only  
reasons to admire this Evangelion firecracker.  Let's face it - the gal's got  

My favorite description of Asuka to date appeared in the Dec. 1997 issue of  
Animerica magazine (referring to my portrayal of the character): "...shrill  
and unpleasant enough to make the character properly unlikeable but not so  
over the top as to make her completely unsympathetic." - Mark Simmons.  That  
pretty much wraps up my feelings for her in a nutshell.  

She is, of course, the polar opposite of Rei with Shinji sitting somewhere in  
the middle.  It's almost like the old Flintstones episodes with Fred talking  
to his "conscience" - the devil saying what he'd really like to do & the  
angel (coincidence?) telling him what he was supposed to do.  I know my  
philosophizing probably won't persuade the more vehement Asuka detractors,  
but I wish people wouldn't be so hasty to judge her - let those among you  
without sin cast the first stone.  

If you know someone who hasn't seen Neon Genesis Evangelion, it is your  
mission to get them to do so - be it subtitled, raw, or however you can find  
it.  Any way you can get it, Eva's definitely a show worth watching.  I know.  
I've already seen it.   :)  


Gamera Review  
Released by ADV Films  
English language version  

"My Life in the Turtle's Shadow"  
By Tiffany Grant (Circa 1997)  

Yes, that's right.  An ADV voice actor is reviewing a film she was actually  
in, but I hope you'll stick with me for a bit.  First I should admit that it  
is impossible for me to write this review with complete objectivity, but  
since I originally wrote this at someone else's request, I will make a  
concerted effort.  You will probably notice that this review mainly focuses  
on the voice acting.  You've heard the saying "write what you know"?  Well,  
that's just what I did.  I should also add that I could not have written this  
article without the help and advice of ADV's Matt Greenfield.  

As I'm sure most of you will already know, Gamera is a live action Japanese  
monster movie in the classic tradition of monster movies.  Okay, it's still a  
cheesy monster flick with a guy in a 5'6" turtle suit stomping on models, but  
this is the new and much improved version.  The cinematography is great.  The  
models are amazing. Not to mention some very fine acting and direction on the  
part of the original Japanese cast... And the critters are pretty darn good,  

A plutonium transport ship, the Kairyu Maru, headed for Japan runs into a  
mysterious moving atoll.  The escort boat's young, dedicated navigator,  
Yoshinara Yonemori, takes it as a personal defeat for the Kairyu Maru to have  
hit even a fish, much less an atoll considering the transport's volatile  
cargo.  When the shipment has finally reached its destination safely,  
Yonemori begs the leader of the investigation, Mr. Kusanagi, to allow him to  
assist him in the search for this elusive atoll.  When they find a large  
moving object in the Pacific Ocean - the "atoll" - they realize it's headed  
right for Japan!  

Meanwhile... After Dr. Hirata (and all the other inhabitants) mysteriously  
disappears from an expedition on Himekami Island, the authorities, in the  
person of Inspector Osako, plead for the assistance of the only qualified  
person they can find - Dr. Nagamine.  An ornithologist at a local zoo and  
friend of Dr. Hirata's, Nagamine reluctantly joins the hunt for the giant  
birds that have supposedly destroyed the island and its residents.  The young  
doctor knows that no ordinary birds could have caused so much annihilation,  
and is led to a horrific discovery.  

Soon the discoveries of both Nagamine and Yonemori lead them to join forces  
in their fight to save mankind from its deadliest foes ever.  But who is the  
greater enemy?  The "birds" or the "turtle"?  When the pterodactyl-like  
man-eating Gayos creatures awaken, Gamera returns from a centuries-  
long sleep to save mankind, and therein lies our tale.  But it is only with the help of  
Asagi Kusanagi, Investigator Kusanagi's teenaged daughter, that Gamera is  
able to garner his strength to fight the flying carnivorous beasties.  

Now I want to tell you WHY you should watch it. The performances of  
both the Japanese cast and the American voice actors make this a truly  
memorable experience as far as English dubbed films are concerned.  
This film served as a catapult to fame for most of its stars in Japan, and  
they do deliver some fine work.  If you don't speak Japanese however,  
you will require subtitles or an English language cast to deliver the story  
to you.  Since this film is not available subtitled, I would boldly like to  
suggest that you watch it  

This wonderful adapted script, written and directed beautifully by Matt  
Greenfield is brought to life by a very well cast group of actors.  So much  
attention was paid to the detail of the lip sync, that many people have  
mistakenly believed that the film was partially filmed in English.  I have  
personally watched the film many times, and am sure to watch it again because  
I am so amazed by the near flawless quality of this dubbing job.  I have  
shown this film to many friends and family members, all of whom have enjoyed  
it tremendously.  A showbiz friend of mine agreed with me that the dub is  
well done enough that you actually forget these people are NOT speaking  

Gamera is beyond a doubt the most difficult A. D. R. work (additional  
dialogue recording - "dubbing") I have ever done, and it has profoundly  
affected all the work I have done since.  Why's that you ask?  Well, after  
three and a half years (we recorded in May of 1997) of giving voices to many  
animated characters, I was quite daunted by the thought of putting my voice  
in someone else's mouth.  Would it look right?  Would people want to watch  
it?  The only dubbed films I'd ever seen were those 70's Kung Fu movies  
where the lip-sync was so bad, you couldn't do anything but laugh.  
I knew that Gamera was a good enough film to merit watching in Japanese,  
and I hoped our efforts would produce that result in my own language.  
And when I refer to "our" efforts, I feel I must make a special mention to  
the man with the magic, Charles Campbell.  Charlie, our sound engineer,  
made us all look even better than we really were by making sure all those  
wonderful words were in just the right place.  

How was this different from doing anime?  Well, as some of you may or  
may not know, anime was never meant to be synced.  We just get as  
close as we can, and it's usually good enough for animation.  
In real life however, people notice.  Matt worked tirelessly on the  
script for many months, checking each syllable and avoiding "hard  
consonants" which the Japanese don't use.  Every breath and lip  
smack was carefully put in exactly the right place.  Most of  
those "little touches" aren't even audible or noticeable to the general  
public, but we wanted everything to be perfect.  Every line was  
done as many times as necessary to get proper fit.  I might mention that it's  
technologically possible to alter the pitch and speed of actors' voices with  
computerized recording equipment, but that was not done at all.  Period.  I  
just want you to know that this film was truly a labor of love for all of us  

I do not wish to use this forum as a platform to toot my own horn - I was the  
English voice of the lead actor Shinobu Nakayama (Dr. Nagamine, the  
ornithologist) - but rather as an arena to express my feelings about my  
favorite piece of work from ADV Films. I would like to take this opportunity,  
however, to tip my hat to my fellow VAs: Aaron Krohn, Tristan MacAvery,  
Amanda Winn, Paul Sidello and the entire supporting cast - all of whom were  
perfectly cast and skillfully directed.  

Regular viewers of ADV dubbed anime will recognize Krohn in a leading role,  
giving voice to Tsuyosi Ihara (in the role of the brave young naval officer  
Yonemori).  I was completely blown away by Aaron's flawless vocal performance  
in this film even having been already well acquainted with his work in such  
projects as Blue Seed (Murakumo), Suikoden (Miyuki), Super Atragon (Go),  
Ellcia (Elluri), the ever popular Kaji from Neon Genesis Evangelion and many  
more.  Aaron's delivery and inflections gave this performance exactly what it  
needed to be believable and make you forget this was a dubbed film.  Mr.  
Krohn, a veteran (and well-respected) Houston stage actor is truly  
magnificent in "Gamera."  

Tristan MacAvery (AslansMuse@cs.com), longtime ADV voice actor and also  
writer/director, does a marvelous job bringing English to the lips of Akira  
Onodera (maritime investigator Kusanagi).  Some of Mr. MacAvery's  
outstanding previous voice work includes Amamoto in Suikoden, King  
Nabosu (Ellcia), Vector (Battle Angel), Batros (Sol Bianca), Gendo Ikari  
(Neon Genesis Evangelion), and a multitude of other bad guys.  Well, for  
those of you who DON'T know, Tristan is my favorite VA.  
He has an amazing range and incredible talent, which he brings  
to each and every role he tackles.  I think this performance truly rates  
as one of his best.  

And who can forget the "queen" of ADV herself, popular voice actor  
Amanda Winn Lee, who turns in a totally awesome performance as  
perky teenager Asagi Kusanagi - Steven Seagal's real-life daughter,  
Ayako Fujitano. Asagi is the one who "communicates" with Gamera to  
help save mankind from total destruction.  Unless you've been 1)living in a  
box OR 2) not watching dubbed anime - you will surely recognize the  
versatile Ms. Winn Lee from roles such as Momiji (Blue Seed), Rally  
Vincent (Gunsmith Cats), Yohko (Devil Hunter Yohko), Gally  
(Battle Angel), Rei Ayanami (Neon Genesis Evangelion), and too  
many more to name here.  A successful on-camera and stage performer,  
Amanda turned in yet another well-rounded and heartfelt performance as  
Kusanagi's brave young daughter that really helped pull the whole film together.  

So who's this Paul Sidello guy?  Well, then newcomer Sidello was "discovered"  
by the director at a theatrical performance Mr. Greenfield attended in which  
Paul had a leading role.  I must say that Paul did a fabulous job  
articulating the comic facial expressions and gestures so adeptly portrayed  
by Yukijiro Hotaro (as Inspector Osako).  Most of his scenes were with my  
character, and he totally stole them away from me!  Paul really had me  
laughing out loud.  Mr. Sidello has an extensive stage & commercial résumé,  
and has since worked on ADV's Sol Bianca, Dirty Pair Flash and Bubblegum  
Crisis: Tokyo 2040.  I hope to be working with him again very soon!  

Other notable performances are delivered in supporting roles by established  
AD Vision voice actors: Kim Sevier (Yuri of Dirty Pair Flash) as Nagamine's  
assistant & a girl on a bus, Spike Spencer (NGE's Shinji Ikari) as a  
scientist who helps solve the mystery of the Gayos, Marcy Rae (Takeuchi of  
Blue Seed) as a delightful shopkeeper, Rob Mungle (Kunikida of Blue Seed)  
as the impressive General Satake, Rick Peebles (Chief Black from Gunsmith  
Cats) who turns in some of his finest work ever as Commissioner Saito, and  
the ever present Doug Smith (Golden Boy's Kintaro Oe) as an eerily  
familiar reporter.  

Other things to watch for...  In the background on Himekami Island when  
Nagamine and Osako are in the foreground discussing the mass havoc, are  
several uniformed officers.  You can clearly hear them calling to possible  
survivors :"Is anybody here?  We have food - coffee and doughnuts!"  Credit  
Matt Greenfield who uses every possible opportunity to sneak this joke into  
any scene with cops in it.  Also, the screaming woman on the bridge sound  
familiar to you?  That's Neon Genesis Evangelion's Dr. Ritsuko Akagi - Sue  

Boy I wish we could have saved the outtakes for this show!  
When my character meets Aaron's for the first time, he rushes in to  
tell us about this giant object headed toward Japan.  Instead of the line  
YOU will hear - "Just how big is this thing?" - I said, "Just how big is your thing?".  
Aaron's response had already been recorded: "It's over sixty meters long!"  
We kept playing that in the studio until our sides hurt!  

Thanks for taking the time to share my "tales of the turtle".  Maybe, just  
maybe, you will enjoy it as much as I do.  I hope so.  

If you want more information, you can check out Gamera's site at