Hey everyone! This week on Questions To Inspire, we have an amazing interview. We are going to talk with Actor – Asia Mattu!
Good morning, Asia. Let’s start out with you telling us a little bit about yourself.
Good morning! I’m a drummer, martial artist, I LOVE to travel and most importantly I’m a voice actor! So basically when you watch cartoons, play video games, or hear ads but don’t see a physical person talking to you, that’s voice acting. There are tons of jobs you may not even think as being voice-over related, like: audio books, call waiting prompts, movie/tv promos, toys, technology (Siri), etc.
You are a talented voice actor and have a lot of work credited to you, such as My Little Pony, Plants Vs. Zombies, and Tiny Warriors. Your new show on Disney Jr. is called Gigantosaurus. Tell us about that?
Awww, shucks, thank you! Gigantosaurus is based on a popular kids book written by Jonny Duddle. It’s about four little dinos, Rocky, Mazu, Bill and Tiny, who go on many adventures and through their experiences they learn valuable lessons. It’s a great show for kids, and there’s humor for adults too (while recording I snuck in a movie reference so I hope it made it into the episode, keep an ear out parents!). I’ve seen every episode since it aired, and at the risk of sounding biased, it’s a great show. Visually it’s really colorful and I like how the animation has a storybook feel, which is fitting considering its origins, and it has one heck of a catchy theme song. I know I would have watched it as a kid so I’m extremely excited to be apart of it.
I love it, we have some behind the scene secrets! What would you say is your favorite role you have performed?
It’s really hard to choose! When asked this question most actors will say they can’t choose because we put a lot of work into our characters and to pick a specific one would be like choosing a favorite child. However, Rugo, the character I play on Gigantosaurus, will always hold a special place in my heart because she’s my first recurring role on an animated series. She’s also a character I had an immediate connection with. I saw a lot of myself in her; she’s small, but she can still hold her own with the other dinosaurs. She’s also a little zany and loves to eat, which I can TOTALLY relate to! So when I saw audition sides, I knew exactly how she would act and behave. No joke, when I sent the MP3 off to my agent I literally said, “Rugo is my spirit animal!” I guess I was right!
So one thing I learned about you is that you are also a puppeteer. I trained with two Sesame Street puppeteers. Do you like puppeteering?
Man, I’m a little envious of you! Yes, I do like puppeteering. It’s a really unique skill, and there’s more to it than just moving your hand or pulling strings. There are a lot of physical and technical challenges that go a long with it, such as coordinating your mouth and hand movements to make the puppet talk, knowing the puppets eye line, how the character moves, etc. I have a new found respect for the art.
I had two months to learn how to use a hand and rod puppet before we started filming. So I watched every ‘Learn to Puppeteer’ videos and any behind the scenes footage from the Muppets and Sesame Street on Youtube to help me. I was also lucky enough to have a crash course session with Mauri Bernstein, who has worked on Sabrina, the Teenage Witch and Team America: World Police.
When we were filming Puppet Killer we didn’t have a sound stage like the Muppets or Sesame Street, so the whole film was done on location. This was challenging because, as you may know, on sound stages you’re able to cheat the camera and create ways to hide the puppeteer. Since we were filming at someone’s house of course we couldn’t build anything so we had to get creative. One of the solutions was for me to wear a blue morph suit so the editing team could key me out in post-production. The morph suit was fine until I had to shoot scenes outside. We were filming in Mission, BC during the winter so it was really cold! I had to fill the suit with hot pockets to keep warm…haha. Overall working on Puppet Killer was a great experience. I learned a new skill and had a blast doing it!
What advice would you give someone who wants to learn how to be a voice actor?
The most common advice would be to take an acting class. But besides acting classes I would also recommend improv. Improv will help you breakout of your comfort zone and think on your feet. For example, when I auditioned for Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare 2, I wasn’t given an audition script. The clients gave some characteristics and voice references for the characters and the rest was up to me. They would give me scenarios like: “Ok, now you’re getting shot” or “You’re running and you take a HUGE leap off the cliff…GO!”, and I would have to react off of those scenarios. Without improv I don’t think I would’ve gotten the job. It helped me be present, listen, and take direction without over thinking.
Also watch cartoons! Be familiar with different cartoon genera’s and trends. A kid’s show like Gigantosaurus is going to have a different energy and feel than Young Justice. This has helped me navigate many auditions, plus it’s the best kind of homework!
I read that you were a black belt in Mixed Martial Arts. Is that something you still do and what inspired you to keep training?
Yes! I still train, I love it and there is always something new to learn. Being a black belt doesn’t mean I’m a master at MMA (far from it!), it just means I’ve put in the time, but I still have a lot of learning to do. It’s kept me in shape and out of trouble. I was horrible at every other sport that I played haha, but for whatever reason martial arts was the one that stuck.
Another reason I keep training is I love seeing how martial arts transforms a person, and I don’t mean like how young Bruce Wayne becomes Batman kind of transformation, but a mental transformation. I started coaching kids when I was 14 years old and everyone coming through the door had different reasons for joining. But there was always someone who joined because they lacked confidence or they were getting bullied at school. At first it would take them awhile to warm up, but overtime you can see the confidence building and they start to come out of their shell. Seeing that transformation is one of the most rewarding things ever. Martial arts helped me build my confidence and coaching others to build theirs is the best way to give back.
Wow, I love that. Not only do you have a passion for Martial Arts, but you are using it to pour into others and help them build up the skills to better obtain their dreams as well. That is truly inspiring! What would you consider is the hardest part of being a voice actor?
The hardest part are the auditions. You put your heart and soul into an audition and…crickets. And it’s not because you did anything wrong, it’s just the client and/or casting director liked someone else’s acting choices better or the voice they chose was more suited for that particular character. Plus, now a days most auditions are done by recording from home, so unlike live auditions you won’t get any feedback unless you get a callback. Don’t get me wrong I DO get excited when I have an audition. It gives me a chance to create new characters, plus you know working is a good thing too, but it’s easy to get into a weird mental spiral.
To avoid that spiral I try to see every audition opportunity as a win, especially if I get an audition from someone I’ve auditioned for before. It means I’m doing something right, and it’s just a matter of time that THE role will come along. Once you get that phone call that you booked a job, it’s the best feeling in the world and it makes up for all the times you heard nothing.
On Questions to Inspire, we want to know what inspired you in your career choice and in life?
Funny enough I didn’t realize voice acting was a job until I was in high school. I loved cartoons growing up (still do!). I was born in the 90’s so Disney, Cartoon Network, YTV, Teletoon and Nickelodeon had amazing content. I knew I wanted to have a job in making cartoons, but I assumed the only job I could get was to be an animator. Then when I was watching behind the scene footage of Robin Williams recording for the Genie in Aladdin, I was blown away! I was fascinated that all of these characters and impressions were coming out of one person (keep in mind I wasn’t familiar with his stand up or prior works at the time). After that I jumped into the rabbit hole and started to research more about voice over, and I have yet to dig myself out of said hole.
But most importantly my parents and my grandparents are my biggest inspirations. They taught me the value of hard work. Even though acting is a creative job, there’s still a lot of blood, sweat and tears that go into it. Without their guidance and encouragement I don’t know if I would have been tough enough for this industry.
Do you have any inspirational words that were told to you that you would like to share?
If you have a dream or a passion go for it. You never know what will happen if you don’t try. If you succeed great! If not, that’s okay too. Take it as a learning moment and push through or pivot. As far as I know I got one shot in this life and I rather not spend anytime looking back and thinking “what if?”. As Alexander Hamilton once said, “I’m not throwing away my shot!”
Finally, we always ask a silly question for our guests. You get to create your own children’s show. It can be about whatever you want. Tell us about your show?
Oooooo, this is a tough one haha! I have a few ideas for an animated series but I’m not sure if I’m ready to share the full details on that yet ;). But off the top of my head…maybe one about a bunch of ghosts? I’ve always had an interest in ghost stories. I used to watch a lot of shows about ghost sightings and I nabbed a few books from the book fair about them too. Recently I found a podcast called, ‘And That’s Why We Drink’, which covers various ghost and true crime stories from all over the world. So because of them I hopped back on the supernatural train, haha.