Fan Expo Boston banner featuring a diverse group of people, including a man wearing a hat and a woman in a hat, against a backdrop with repeated 'Fan Expo' text. The logo 'Fan Expo Boston' is prominently displayed in bold yellow and black letters, with a microphone icon. The 'All Ages of Geek' logo is at the bottom right corner

A Voice Actor’s Experience at Fan Expo Boston!

By Diana Helen Kennedy and Kevin Urban 

Fan Expos such as Fan Expo Boston are built for and cater to (surprise, surprise) fans. Hynes Convention Center becomes a cavalcade of color and entertainment for three days as celebrities, artists, cosplayers, and die-hards intermingle in tight spaces with high ceilings. There are a multitude of places and activities in which participants can have fun. But, as an aspiring or professional voice actor, are there ways to learn and grow your career from attending an event like this? As it turns out, there are plenty.  

First off, if you’re willing to wait in line and spend some money, you can get a signed photo and a few minutes of uninterrupted time to ask a targeted question from one of your favorite voice actors, some of whom are also on-camera celebrities such as Alan Tudyk or Shameik Moore. A ton of voice actors from several genres such as animation, games, and anime appeared at Fan Expo Boston June 14-16 and all of them were provided with tables with either merchandise for signing autographs or the opportunity to take a selfie. Just make sure to have a pointed question prepared and respect the VA’s time and they are very generous with their knowledge.  

Then there’s the panels. This year the panels featured top of their game voice actors including Rob Paulsen and Maurice LaMarche of Pinky and the Brain fame, several cast members of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, the voices of household names such as Sonic and Zelda, and anime stars from titles such as Chainsaw Man, Pokemon, DragonBall Z, and My Hero Academia. And these actors just let you pick their brains (!) – provided you get into the line for the microphone fast enough (sorry, Kevin)! 

Voice actor Reagan Murdock, known for voicing Aki Hayakawa in Chainsaw Man, shared his voice acting journey with All Ages of Geek, expressing, “You never know what’s around the corner.” He also advised that most of the time as a voice actor, you don’t know the significance of the role you’re reading for until you land it, so it’s important to treat every read with importance. Murdock was a featured voice actor alongside fellow Dragon Ball Super voice actor Kyle Hebert, as they highlighted the challenging yet rewarding nature of voice acting. The event featured incredibly positive guests, whose wisdom resonated deeply with the audience. 

Ashley Eckstein, known for her role as Ahsoka Tano in Star Wars, served as the emcee for the event. She shared a heartfelt full-circle moment in a speech about Boston’s significance to her career and personal experiences with Ahsoka, kicking off the event to a roar of applause. Matt Lanter, the voice of Anakin Skywalker, signed autographs, shared personal stories from his first Star Wars audition, and engaged with fans, allowing them to express what Star Wars meant to them. As he and James Arnold Taylor (Obi-Wan Kenobi, Fred Flintstone) cracked jokes with Ashley and Dee Bradley Baker (American Dad, The Last Airbender and 2/3 of your childhood) on stage, it’s not too cheesy to say the Stars became real. (Insert Picture of Panel) 

Lastly, there are workshops available to practice your skills. Last year, participants were able to provide a quick voice performance for a character drawn on the spot as part of a live podcast recording of I Hear Voices, hosted by Kim Possible’s Christy Carlson Romano and Will Freidle. This year, animator and voice director Myranda V. Peterson provided volunteers with opportunities to perform as if they were in a live dubbing session. 

Things I learned personally as a voice actor from the talent at Fan Expo Boston: 

  • Dubbing (which I’d never attempted before) is not as easy as it looks. You must be able to match the mouth movements (or “lip flaps” as they are called) of the existing character while having your line memorized (that you saw for the first time moments before) while matching the character’s emotional energy based on the animation. It takes a lot of skill and practice but it’s also a lot of fun.  
  • Across the board, seasoned voice actors will recommend that newer voice actors start with acting training as their first investment into their career: not a booth, not a mic, not a demo, but mastering the acting in voice acting.  
  • The bad news for Bostonians and 95% of the country: though remote opportunities still exist, the trend is that union and well-paying non-union jobs are more and more requiring their actors to be live in studio to record. Which means living in LA or Texas. While not an impossible path, remote actors will have to work harder honing their skills and their marketing to remain competitive.  
  • If you ever want to know if a voice actor would audition for a live action version of their most well-known character, there’s no need to ask: the answer’s always a resounding yes. 

I would say that the biggest takeaway is that voice actors are also fans! So, if you are looking for a collective of kindred spirits to surround yourself with for a weekend, then expos and cons are an ideal way to revitalize your creative energy. And what can be more productive to a performing career than that? 

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