Interview – Voice Acting Allstar – Elise Baughman

Thanks for joining us for another Questions To Inspire!  This week’s guest is voice acting allstar, Elise Baughman.  This one is a big deal for me because when I was working at the Funimation Store (back in the day), the biggest event we had was when Funimation started dubbing Dragonball GT.  It was huge.  We had DVD’s and VHS being sold out, toys, shirts, merchandise shipping all over the world.  And who was one of the biggest starts of DBGT?  Elise Baughman!!!

Good afternoon, Elise!  Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us today. Let’s get it started today with you telling us a bit about yourself.

I’m married, and we have a wonderful little boy in preschool.  Professionally I am an on-camera actress, voice over actress, TV host, and corporate spokesperson.  I love spending time with my family and love what I do!

You have done so many things, but what I know you best from is  voicing Pan from Dragon Ball GT.  I worked at the Zstore (Funimation’s online retail store) when GT came out. It was a pretty big deal. Was Pan your first VO work?

How cool that you worked there when GT came out!  And yes, Pan was one of my first VO jobs.  I had been doing on-camera work and had been performing with an improv troupe but had not done any VO work.  Yet I had always loved animation and was really wanting to get started in voiceover. 

Pan from Dragon Ball GT

The short story of how I booked the role of Pan is that I heard some fellow improv friends talking about their work at Funimation.  I asked them how to audition there; Mike McFarland–a fantastic director and actor (as you know) –was part of that conversation and helped explain how it worked.  

Fast forward to the audition day…I got sick the day of my audition, but I was so excited to be auditioning that I wasn’t going to let that stop me.  And the rest is history!  I booked the role of Pan and have had an absolute blast voicing this character.  I was fortunate that many other roles in animé and animation followed—along with voiceover roles for TV and radio commercials, corporate training videos, children’s books, and other great gigs.  I still am thrilled over every single job I get to do.

What a great career!  I believe whole heartily that VO is true acting, but would you say that VO work is harder or easier than a normal acting job where you yourself are on camera?

You are absolutely right…voiceover is acting; it’s not just about having a good voice like some people may believe.  I would say that VO is almost the same as those jobs where I am myself on camera—or even when I am playing a character on camera.  The same principles apply.  In fact, there have been times in the voiceover booth where I acted as if a camera were right there in front of me. 

When doing voiceover acting, people still hear things in your voice that they may normally see on camera…they can hear your smile, hear your frustration, hear your love of a product, etc.  That’s why I like your question so much…you have to apply acting principles whether you have a mic or a camera in front of you.

What advise would you give someone who wants to learn how to be a  voice actor?

Study, study, study!  That’s what I’ve done since I got started in this business.  I didn’t go to school for acting (I graduated with my degree in accounting and my M.B.A.).  So, when I wanted to explore acting, I started with a class.  And then another class.  And another.

I also talked with everyone I could about the business to find out what worked and didn’t work for them.  I still do this!  I think acting is like any pursuit…you must study, learn your craft, research, understand the business side of things, and work hard.

Also, like any passion someone may want to explore, you may need to “dip your toe in the water”.  I heard this on a podcast recently by Chalene Johnson, and I thought she said it so well.  Dip your toe in the water and see if you like it.  That’s what I did when I started with my first acting class.  I didn’t know at the time that I would become an actor.  I was still working in corporate America and thought it may just be something to get me out of my comfort zone and therefore improve my presentation skills in my then current job as a financial analyst.  I remember saying at the time about my acting class, “I don’t know if I will become an actor one day…or if this will help me in my current job…or if this will help me do something totally different like become a motivational speaker.”  But I tried it.  For me, it led to becoming an actor.  For others, it may be the same.  Or it may become a fun hobby and a nice little escape from a day job.

That is great advice!  I know that you were in a couple of improv  groups, how long did you do that and did you have any unique  characters  that were your go to?

I love improv!  I studied with The Groundlings when I lived in Los Angeles.  In Dallas I went through a similar program created by one of the founding members of The Groundlings.  After going through the 4-level program I performed with the troupe.  And I had a very short stint with another group.  I don’t even know how long I did improv in total since it wasn’t consecutive, but probably about 4-5 years.

The character that seemed to pop up a lot was the nerdy girl who put everything in Excel.  But honestly, that wasn’t much of a stretch.  I did and still do put everything in Excel!  You know the cliché—you can take the girl out of accounting, but you can’t take accounting out of the girl.  Probably the character I loved most was one I co-created for a short film named Patricia Noble.  She was an ex-accountant and mediocre poet who thought she could rap.  Again, it’s not that much of a stretch.  I’ve been known to break out some bad raps on set at my jobs.  Okay, very bad.

I have to ask, I heard you juggle as well!  Is that true?  I had to learn to juggle and do puppets for a job I was on.  I was okay at juggling, but pretty good at puppets.

It’s true…I can juggle!  I learned to juggle at softball practice when I was about 10, and I’ve been able to do it ever since.  It’s not like the circus is after me for my mad skills or anything, but I did recently juggle oranges for a commercial that was shot in a grocery store.

On Questions To Inspire, we want to know what inspired you in your  career choices and in life?

In my career, I wanted to pursue my passion.  After college I found myself in a job where I loved the people but did not love the work.  I felt trapped and knew that accounting was not my calling.  This is such a long story, but the short version of it is that one of my best friends gave me an acting class as a gift.  I loved my acting class and asked myself, “How can I turn this (acting) into a career?”

So, I did all those things I mentioned earlier…I dipped my toe in the water, I studied, I asked questions, I researched, I worked hard…and the list goes on.  And it happened (after lots of hard work)!  Now I am still pursuing my passion.  And I’m very passionate about others being able to do the same.  Some can have their passion be their career.  Some people, I realize, may be in jobs that help them survive; but I still feel they can pursue their passion and their calling in other areas like volunteering or in their personal relationships.

In life, my faith has always been the biggest inspiration and what has pulled me through tough times.  My family and my friends inspire me.  I feel like with faith, family, and friends, I’ve had a solid foundation for celebrating the successes and surviving the struggles.

Do you have any inspirational words that were told to you that you  would care to share with us today?

Absolutely!  I have several “go-to” things that I use frequently and that I’d love to share.

  1. “This, too, shall pass.”  My mom started saying this to me when I was young, and still says this to me today.
  2. There are two questions my husband and I always ask when we are presented with multiple opportunities and choices: “Is it moral and ethical?” and “What gets me closer to my goals?”.  Those 2 questions have helped me make many decisions—from the least to the most difficult.
  3. “Am I on purpose right now?”  Being on purpose could even mean relaxing on the couch after a tough day at work–as long as it’s intentional.  Kevin W. McCarthy, a motivational speaker and author, wrote a book about being on purpose that my husband and I have read multiple times

Finally our silly question, all of Hollywood has come together and they want you to remake any move that you want, but you are the leading  role.  What movie would you remake and what role would you want to  play?

Fun question!  Romantic comedies are my favorite movies to watch, so I’m going to go with “Maid in Manhattan” in the role played by J. Lo.  Just call me E. Bo.

Thanks Elise for taking the time to answer a few Questions To Inspire about Thanksgiving.  Please check out the Elise’s website – elisebaughman.com and you can meet her at many anime convention’s. She posts announcements of upcoming events on her social media – Instagram & Twitter – @EliseBaughman / Facebook – @EliseBaughmanActress .

Thanks everyone for reading Questions To Inspire and check out some of our other interviews!  See you next time!

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