How did you get started in voice-acting?
I was working on a radio show for CDC Vancouver ("Disc Drive") as
an Associte Producer- this is back in '86-'88- when I got an offer
by the host of the show to come and do smoe silly voices for CHQM,
a local radio station. I had to do twenty-one commercials for them.
They weren't asking for "straight reads," but something more on the
silly and different side of things. So, I threw in a myriad of half-baked
characters that seemed to live in me into these commercials, and that
was the beginning. Jurgan Gothe, the host of the show, had heard enough
of my voices just by working with me around the office (these things
just come out, you know...) and thought they'd be great to accent
some of the commercials he was writing for the station. Anyway, after
two years at the CBC, I quite my job to try this voice-thing/acting-thing
out, and... presto! I was lucky too, because tha animation industry
was just stating to "spill up" from L.A. Other than Jurgen, I have
to give credit to my gerbils Whikers and Nibbles, my furry childhood
friends. When I was eight, I believed that if I talked in this cutesy
little chipmunk-like voice, they'd be able to understand me better.
Now that character voice is used for a potpourri of voice effects
and baby/chipmunk-like characters in some of the animation episodes
I've preformed in. My gerbils were buried in our backyard behind the
lilac bush and I can't thank them enough for contributing to my career!
Do you do anything special to prepare yourself for a
role? Like research of any kind?
Yes, I always prepare, and how depends on what type of character I'm
asked to read for. If I'm asked to do a mimic-type thing, a pseudo-Rosie
Perez, or Julie Newmar or someething specific, I'll rent out a video
and get the voice down pat. But it's difficult when we don't have
pictures of the characters to work with, or much information- that's
when your "on-the-spot" flexibility and acting skills have to come
into play, when you have to give them what they want on the spot.
Also, the director may hav enew information that you didn't have before
the audition or may ask you to read something you've never looked
at. So being able to take direction is a must. Plus, if we're required
to "match" the lip-synch accurately, there's no way that can be practiced
ahead of time. You almost have to have the knack. I'll usually come
up with a couple of ideas per charactere, record them for myself at
home, play them back and critique them. I just pop into casting director
modee (I used to do casting) and can usually hear when I'm off and
when I'm on the mark. But then, that's just my opinion. The client
may be wanting something else and we can never really know if we've
given them the right choice. Finally, getting someone else to listen
to your voices is helpful because they can tell you from a layman's
point-of-view if it sounds like what you're after. The average person
is usually the best judge.
When doing a character translated
from the Japanese, do you want to hear the Japanese, to see how that
voice-actor handled the part?
Yes, I prefer to hear the original Japanese version, if the client
wants us to match the sound and/or the enegry of the original characters.
Plus if you have a little of the original track in your headphones
you can hear where the lip synch has to fit to a tee. For me, it helps
me to be just that much more accurate. But toomuch of the original
track can be distracting, too. It isn't so much to know what the Japanese
actor did with the acting, it's to help me technically, to try and
Is there much room for improvisation in
your voice-acting roles, or are you held pretty much strictly to the
We're held pretty much strictly to the script, almost verbatim! The
only time we're able to make changes is when the original script was
written in the format of another English-speaking country that has
phrases and sayings that are only heard in that country. For example,
if the script was written by a British person, there may be a few
slang phrases they'd throw into the script for the character to say.
A North American audience many not understand the lingo, so we'll
change it to be as clear to the real meaning as the writer intended
as possible, in a standard North American sort of way. Other than
that, unless an actor comees up with a really funny phrase or witty
comment, no, we're stuck to the script. In early days of A.D.R (Auto-Digital
Recording or Automatic Dialog Replacement), the actors were helping
to rewrite as they went because the lip-synch didn't always match
and the schedules were tight, but that doesn't happen anymore. Nowadays,
the translators work very hard to make sure things are accurate and
ready on time.
Do you ever watch the animation you're
Sometimes. I usually watch shows to see if I can find a nice snippet
of a new character I've created to tape and put on a future demo cassette.
Of course I'll watch just to see what the animation turned out like
and how we all worked together as a group. There's a great sense of
accomplishment in seeing the finished version. But no, I certainly
don't watch every show. Often the shows we do aren't seen in North
America or are on a CD-ROM or video format, so in those cases, it's
tougher to get hold of.
Did you watch animation before
you got into voice-acting?
On occasion, but I can't say there was any one cartoon that was my
favorite. When I was younger, yes!! Bugs Bunny to me is cartooning
at its finest! When I was starting out as a voice-actor I'd watch
quite a few- it ofteen served as a way to get informed about the medium.
Animation was new to Vancouver in 1988, so we all had to learn and
apply as we went. We all just dove in headfirst and discoveered the
water was fine!
Do you have a "type" of character that
you're usually cast for? Like a tough girl or something like that?
Yes, I have a few types, thankfully, that I'm cast for. Often
it's the cartoony types although I am also cast for the straight action-heroine
thing too. My cute talking-animals (generic) are popular as well as
authentic-sounding young boys. I do a lot of principal looping for
Highlander, Madison, and Lonesome Dove too, where an authentic "boy"
sound is a specialty. But as I say, in cartoon land, I'll also play
the female cop or action babe... I guess Momma's girls and teachers
Do you have a favorite character that you've played?
One of my favorite characters is the voice I used for "Pip Penguin"
in Von Hahn Films series Little Island. He's a wise-crackin' nuisance
and provides comedy for the show. He's whining all the time, is cute
as a bug and pokes his nose into everybody's business. Also, recently
I played a fat fish market woman called "Bertha" for a series and
I quite like the challenge she presents! She sounds in the ball park
of a "Ma Bell" character. I hear the client asked the director if
Cathy Weseluck was a "big girl"- I guess the character sounded fat
enough for them! But it's hard to pinpoint a favorite character...
they're all pretty much family by now!
What's the strangest
role you've ever played as a voice-actor?
The strangest role I've ever played is a drain pipe. I know, I know,
weird... but it was actually very, very, brief... just a lot of spurting
noises. I'm also one of the cute little aliens for the Fox Kids' Network
commercial bumpers. But really none of the characters are strange
because they're all part of cartoon land!
Do you also
do live-action work?
Yes, but not as much as voice-over. I've been on The Commish, M.A.N.T.I.S,
Scene of the Crime, and the odd TV movie, such as ABC's The Halfback
of Notre Dame. I also do a lot of on-camera industrial work. I enjoy
it, and I'd love to do more, but voice-over has been my "thing".
How does voice-acting compare to live-action work?
Live-action work requires memory, of course, and being on camera.
The audition process is totally different- with voice you audition
alone whereas on camera you're reacting and working with another person
or the casting director. With a pre-lay cartoon series, when you've
got the job, you're pretty much in and out in three hours... with
television you can be hanging around for hours even if you only have
one paragraph to perform. There's a lot of waiting around in TV acting...
with voice you're in and out.
Do you ever get fan mail?
I've gotten fan phone calls! One Sunday evening, a fan calld me up
at home. He was very pleasant and crazy about "Shampoo," so it was
fine, but even though I appreciate the feedback, believe me, I cetainly
wasn't expecting a house call especially on a Sunday evening! It's
wonderful to hear from fans, but privacy is also important. If people
want to contact me, they should write via my agency. I get letters
too, many regading my voice-over workshops. I've taught voice-over
(animation and commercial) for over five years now and often get thank-you
notes and wonderful feedback... teaching is something I very much
enjoy. Besides that, I'll run into people on the street that I don't
know, or other actors or production types who'll compliment me on
a show I'd done that I'd forgotten about. It's nice to know people
are watching and listening and enjoy what we do. And we enjoy it!
That's why we're out theree, for fun and for the audience!
Fan mail for Cathy Weseluck can be sent to:
The Characters Talent Agency
1505 2nd Ave., 2nd Floor
Vancouver, B.C., Canada V6H 3Y4
For info on her voice-actor workshops, send a fax to:
Cathy Weseluck's Voice-Over Workshop, (604) 687-4033
Originally Published in:
Animerica Vol 4. No. 3
Dragon Ball Z