Hey there! I’m Joey Sourlis, and I voice things for a living. I’ve had the opportunity to lend my talents to projects all over the place, from audiobooks to video games, animations, and much more. I do this because I love it, and I always encourage people to do what makes them feel the same. Life to me, is the pursuit of happiness. “Pursuit” being the key word. It’s all in the journey! Let me take you on mine for a little bit.
1. What inspired you to become a voice actor?
As a kid, I always had a knack for impressions and playing characters. I’d always come up with intricate stories and funny voices with my brother for when we played with our toys as kids. We always had a blast! It never really went away as I got older, and I found a career that “scratched that itch” for me. The characters I voice are my action figures, one could say!
2. Can you describe your process for preparing for a voice acting role?
I always start with my warm ups! I do lip trills to help me enunciate my words better, and to warm up my vocal chords. Then, depending on what I’m working on, I try to get myself familiar with the “enviornment” of said project. For characters, I try to immerse myself into a time period in my life where I could relate more personally to the character I’m playing. A time where I was in a similar headspace. It’s a lot of “me trying to see things from their point of view.” For narration, I feel like I also do character work with that as well. The narrator is a character themselves to me- SOMEONE has to tell the story, right? Commercial work is actually easier for me to hop into cold; commercial work is a separate beast entirely!
3. What has been your biggest challenge as a voice actor and how have you overcome it?
I think personally, “being a Voice Actor” itself is the biggest challenge I’ve faced in my life- and I’m always finding new ways to overcome it! I know that’s a very broad answer, so to be a little more specific, enunciation has actually been a challenge for me. Taking classes, learning proper throat care, all helped me figure out how to get a handle on it.
4. Can you tell us about a particularly memorable project you’ve worked on and why it stands out to you?
Edgar Kettle in Foolish Mortals. That was probably the funniest character I’ve had the chance to portray to date- his puns are hilarious. It’s kind of difficult to make me genuinley laugh, you really have to catch me off guard… and I’m PRETTY observant. So, if you’ve made me laugh- you got me good. Edgar Kettle’s puns come off so casually, like it’s just apart of his vocabulary; which was a particularly fun stretch of the old acting chops! I had such a blast in the booth recording for this guy.
5. How do you handle the pressure of performing in front of a microphone?
I just look directly at my microphone. Like if I’m in a class performing, I do NOT look anywhere else but at my mic. It’s sort of an “outta sight, outta mind” type thing. Luckily, I’m pretty okay when I’m recording on my own- because I know for a fact I’m alone. I also love collaborating and taking direction, it’s just a natural groove for me!
6. Can you share any advice for aspiring voice actors just starting out in the industry?
Breathe. Be patient. Start out taking classes and get a feel for how to navigate the field first, because this IS a business. You are essentially starting your own business in voiceover- so take financial classes as well. You are going to need them! As far as the performance side, please note that it is called voice “acting” for a reason. You aren’t just reading off of the page, you gotta convince the listener you’re in it. You gotta sell people the products in commercials, For video games and animation- you gotta sell me that you’re actually this gigantic centipede that teaches English Class to inner city schools, or whatever character you’re playing! For Narration, you gotta sell me the story you’re telling. It’s more than “reading from a script,” It’s bringing “life” to the script given.
7. Can you tell us about a time when you had to adapt to a new character or voice?
I do a lot of dubbing, and I’m currently working on a series as the lead character. I’m CONSTANTLY having to adapt because, this character is very unpredictable- and was kind of hard to get a read on when I was initially cast. Sometimes when I’m cast in a role, the only person who is sure i’m a good fit is the Casting Director. As we’re working more and more on the show, I’ve grown familiar with what kind of person he is- and am able to sort of “predict the unpredictable” with him!
8. How do you stay motivated and engaged during long recording sessions?
Sometimes it’s hard, but ultimately I think communication is key. Letting the Casting Director know how you’re doing before hand, asking for some patience. As long as I try, I find people are willing to sort of work with me. Ultimately I try to make sure I prepare as much as I can before a session, but- I find I just have to lose myself in it. Sometimes it’s hard to get up and get in it, but I tell myself “the hardest part right now is showing up, you get through that- the rest will follow suit.” It usually does for me.
9. Can you tell us about an experience you had while working on a project where you had to improvise or come up with an unexpected solution?
I have to do that a lot with dubbing. Sometimes the translation doesn’t fit what the actor or character I’m dubbing on screen does, and needs maybe an extra word or expression to fill the space. It’s not always perfect “grammar wise” either, so I kind of have to reword the script in a more cohesive way on the fly, mostly to make it come off as naturally as I can.
10. Can you share a funny or interesting story from your time as a voice actor?
Recording for my characters in Doomsday Paradise was a hoot. I play The Hydra and Man-Spider. The latter, being just the most disgusting sounds I can make with the back of my throat. The casting directors reactions were absolutely priceless, we had a great time recording!
11. Can you share your favorite voice acting moment or performance?
I have so many favorites! I’d have to say though, Krampus is my absolute favorite. Watch Over Christmas ended up being such a fantastic game to play, and it was crazy to get the chance to voice the big bad of Christmas! A lot of people are familiar with the character, so it’s a treat to get to say I voice a version of him. The game is also so much fun, and will be a project I will never forget.
12. Can you tell us about a voice acting project you turned down and why?
I was cast in a video game as a black character, twice actually. I won’t disclose the names of said projects but- I dropped both of them. I just couldn’t in good conscience continue when I could literally always think of another Voice Actor who would fit way better than me, just objectivley. One character started out as White, but was changed to be a Person of Color. The other, I was just sort of “assigned” the role. I’m of indiginous descent… but I just knew too many actors of said color who could more authentically fit the character more than me that were so talented. Each time I quit, I gave my recommendation for who should take my place. I think authenticity should be the standard.
13. How do you keep your voice in good condition for voice acting?
Brush those teeth twice a day! Drink tea with honey, and try not to smoke. Do plenty of warm ups, and always look for ways to take care of those vocal chords!
14. Can you tell us about a time when you had to take on a role that was completely different from what you were used to?
Recently, I’ve been booking more in my higher register- and that’s kind of new for me. I always like a good challenge though! I’m way more used to booking things in my lower register, or my average speaking voice. It’s always nice to play a character in a completely different range, it’s a fun challenge I hope to continue improving on.
15.What are your thoughts on All Ages of Geek and what can we improve on to make it a better platform?
I say you’re all doing awesome! I think what were doing now seems pretty cool, I’m excited to hear more voice actor’s stories!
16.Where can people find you online?
You can find me on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Discord, LinkedIn, and YouTube! “Joey Sourlis” isn’t a very common name luckily so I don’t think it’d be too hard to find me. Just look for the dude in glasses and the mane. Here are my links!
Thank you so much for having me, I thought these were fantastic questions and I look forward to whatever the future holds for me!