Hello people of the internet!!! On today’s ‘Monday Memos’ I am very excited to bring you an interview with voice actress Lara Jill Miller. You may know her best as ‘Kari’ on Digimon, ‘Clifford’ on Clifford’s Puppy Days, ‘Lambie’ on Doc McStuffins, and many other memorable roles. In this interview we talk about Lara’s career as a stage, on-camera, and voice actress, how she feels about reprising her Digimon Adventure Tri (let’s cross our fingers that the movies get a U.S. dub!), what to look out for from her next, and so much more! So now let’s get to the part that y’all came here for…the interview. Ready? Ok, let’s go!!!
Celinda: Hi Lara, first of all I want to thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to do this interview.
Lara: Thank you for asking me, Celinda.
Celinda: So I want to begin by asking you about your role as Amaryllis in the Broadway production of The Music Man, which starred Dick Van Dyke. What was it like to work with such an iconic actor at such an early stage in your career, and how do you think this experience shaped you as an entertainer?
Lara: Dick Van Dyke was amazing. So funny, so talented. I was so thrilled to meet him at my audition for the show, I couldn’t believe I was actually meeting the guy from CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG and MARY POPPINS! I was really little when I met him and I remember shaking his hand and seeing his really long feet in white sneakers, and then looking all the way up to his head, WAYYY up there.
Touring in the show, and then performing on Broadway was a spectacular experience overall. Traveling all over the US for the first time was really exciting. I love performing live and had a lot of experience in the years prior at a local dinner theatre in my hometown. Dancing and singing is a great joy of mine, and that made me realize I was born to do this.
Celinda: That sounds like such a cool experience! So, you’re widely known for your role as Samantha on the 6 seasons of the television show Gimme A Break. When the show ended Samantha was beginning her new life as a college student, and you also later earned a college degree yourself, so there was a very cool life imitating art aspect there. Were there any other similarities between you and Samantha, and how do you think growing up on the set of a sitcom shaped you as a person?
Lara: Well, I’m the youngest of 3 daughters, so there’s that. And I was pretty much a tomboy, but I certainly didn’t wear overalls like my character Samantha, NOR play with WORMS! I loved Nell as much as Samantha did. And well, when I got my braces off and got my hair cut, so did my character on TV!
Growing up on a set really made me – well – grow up. I learned a lot about responsibility, being professional, a great work ethic. And also I became a better performer over the years, comic timing and such. I also learned that when you’re a celebrity, people treat you differently, but that it can all change in an instant, so one should never take anything for granted. I loved and appreciated all the years on the show. Unlike many child stars, I really loved my life and came out unscathed, no drugs, no alcohol, nothing. My parents were wonderful and supportive and not pushy. I learned a lot about ‘show business’ – both parts: the show AND the business!
Celinda: Wow that is such a profound answer, and so true, many people forget about the business part of the industry. Well, a lot of your fans (myself included) might know you best from your role as Kari on Digimon. When it was announced that Digimon was coming back to continue the story of the 8 original characters, the internet went into a frenzy. How does it feel to have fans still get really excited about a project you did 15 years ago?
Lara: Love hearing from you and all the fans! Digimon was my first animated gig. Lots of great memories. And well, yah! It feels GREAT to hear that people love the project and love Kari. If the show comes back to the US for a US dub, I’d love to be the grown up Kari.
Celinda: I think I can speak for all of your fans when I say that we would love to hear you voice adult Kari. So, another voice-over role that a lot of fans know you from is Clifford’s Puppy Days, how did this experience differ from your experiences working on Anime?
Lara: Anime is dubbed after the fact. Clifford’s Puppy Days (and some of my other shows like Juniper Lee, Wubbzy, Curious George, SciGirls, Hugglemonsters, Doc, etc…oh, and also the new Nick show I’m working on…) are original animation. We record first and then they draw the character TO US… We CREATE the roles. And for most of these shows, we record together as a cast. That’s fun.
Celinda: That does sound really fun. One of the many shows that you’re working on at the moment is Doc McStuffins on Disney Junior. This show has been widely praised for it’s educational aspects, how does it feel to know that shows you’ve worked on such as Doc McStuffins and SciGirls are influencing your audience to become more interested in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) subjects?
Lara: I’m so honored and thrilled to be a part of these shows. Doc McStuffins is changing the world! Really! What a concept to be a part of such a big thing, right? I love playing Lambie. And Izzie on SciGirls – what a brilliant show! I hope that with both shows, we make a difference!
Celinda: I’m sure both shows will have a huge positive influence on your audience. So what are some of the major differences between preparing for a recording session for a voice-over project, versus an on-camera job?
Lara: Make-up…or lack thereof! And wardrobe. Although sometimes I like picking out cute outfits to record in… although they must be quiet clothes. You know, mic-worthy.
The thing with animation, we don’t have to memorize lines, but I do read the scripts, and prepare ad libs, etc, ahead of time. Also each week for Doc and Hugglemonsters we have to learn songs, harmonies. There’s a lot of preparation for that.
Celinda: Wow, I never would have thought about a lot of that, particularly the mic-worthy clothes. Lastly are there any upcoming projects that your fans should look out for, and is there anything that you would like to say to any of your fans who are reading this interview?
Lara: Oh yah! There’s a new Nickelodeon show! And… that’s about all I’m allowed to say right now! Go to my FB Page and/or follow me on Twitter for updates. I’m not THAT active on those social media pages, but I’m trying! And I love hearing from fans! The nice ones (which I’m SURE the ones reading this are!) And well, thanks for reading this. I feel very lucky that I get to do what I love to do and that so many people love what I do, too. Thank you for that.
Celinda: Thank you again for taking the time to speak with me Lara.
Lara: Thank YOU Celinda! And thanks again to all your readers for reading this!
Keep up with everything Lara is doing:
Facebook: Lara Jill Miller
Check out these clips to see a couple of the AWESOME characters Lara has voiced! (you can check out more clips on Lara’s official website, which is linked above):
‘Kari’ – Digimon (You can hear Lara’s voice beginning at 0:04)
‘Lambie’ – Doc McStuffins (You can hear Lara’s voice beginning at 1:04)
Hello people of the internet!!! On today’s ‘Monday Memos’ I have an awesome new interview with actor Ben Diskin for y’all to check out. If you’re a fan of shows such as: Naruto, Bleach, Codename: Kids Next Door, Hey Arnold, Zoey 101, and Digimon Fusion then you probably already know who Ben is (he’s done A LOT of other films/anime/other projects., it just would take too long to list them all). I had the amazing opportunity to ask Ben a few questions about his background, the acting industry, and his roles as Shoutmon and Cutemon on Digimon Fusion. So if y’all are ready, let’s jump into the interview!
Celinda: Hi Ben! So first of all, how did you first get into the entertainment industry?
Ben: I got into the entertainment industry while I was still a fetus. People think I’m joking when I say that, but it’s honestly true. Both of my parents are actors and while I was developing in my Mom’s womb, their agent told them he’d like to represent me when I was born. They signed the paperwork and I had representation before I’d taken my first breath.
Celinda: Wow that is such a cool story. So what do you wish you would have known about being an actor before getting into the business?
Ben: I really wish I’d known to keep my mouth shut. When you’re a kid and you don’t know any better, you want to tell all your friends about jobs you’re working on because you’re so excited about what you’ve just done. The trouble with that is it makes you look like a braggart and people make some pretty unfair judgements about your personality. As a kid, I told anyone who’d listen that I was in Kindergarten Cop with Arnold Schwarzenegger. This got out to the whole school and suddenly I’d made a bunch of new “friends.” These kids thought I was a movie star, rich, and really cool. Once it dawned on them that I was none of those things, they called me a liar, a brat, and a fake. I went from being popular to being teased mercilessly and it made me want to quit acting. To this day, I tend to keep my mouth shut about projects I’m working on because a part of me fears the same thing will happen.
Celinda: So how did you transition into voice acting?
Ben: I was with the CED (now CESD) Talent Agency since I was a baby and they’ve been one of the top dogs for VO work for several decades. One day I was approached by one of the voice over agents to do a radio spot audition. I didn’t know how to read very well at the time, so he had to dictate my dialogue to me and have me repeat it. My first major moment in voice over was doing an animated series called Problem Child (based on the movies with John Ritter.) When I realized that no one, not even my closest friends, recognized my voice coming from the cartoon character, I knew what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Being able to act without dealing with any of the “fame” was exactly what I was looking for.
Celinda: Very cool. So in your opinion, what’s the biggest difference between on-camera acting & voice acting?
Ben: Focus. When you’re acting on camera, there are several tools at your disposal. You have your expressions, your gestures, your body language, your blocking, and your voice to properly convey the emotions of your character. In voice over, you’re forced to focus on just one aspect of acting: the voice. With an on-camera character, I can subtly raise an eyebrow to convey suspicion. In voice over, you have to vocally convey that same subtle eyebrow raise. When everything is filtered through the voice, it can be like a blind man trying to understand the world using only touch and smell.
Celinda: So moving on to Digimon (which is currently airing its’ second season on Nicktoons), were you a fan before working on the franchise?
Ben: I was ABSOLUTELY a big fan of Digimon! I loved those shows!
Celinda: Since you were already a fan of Digimon, what was it like to work on a show that you had previously enjoyed as a viewer?
Ben: It was a major honor to get to work on this show. I’d been hoping Xros Wars would get a dub ever since it came out in Japan, but after a couple of years went by, I’d lost hope of that ever happening. When I got the audition, I freaked out. XD The show is a lot of fun to work on for me, since my major anime influence is Dragonball Z. I play a character who yells like crazy and it reminds me of why I wanted to do this in the first place.
Celinda: I just want to say that you do a terrific job voicing Shoutmon & Cutemon. Do you record their scenes in different sessions? (y’all can check out a clip of Shoutmon & Cutemon in Digimon Fusion below)
Ben: Thank you! We typically record all of one character’s lines and then go back to the beginning of the episode for a second pass to record the other.
Celinda: So Shoutmon & Cutemon’s voices sound so distinct, what process do you go through to prepare your voice so you can give each character a unique personality?
Ben: It depends on when we record the episode. The Cutemon voice is extremely finicky. I can’t do it too early in the morning or too late in the day. If it’s an early morning session, Shoutmon has to go first. Because he’s such a loud, scratchy-voiced character, his voice warms up my vocal cords so I can do Cutemon. If the session is in the afternoon, my voice is already warmed up from being awake all day and I’ll have to do Cutemon first before it gets too late. Doing Shoutmon at this point will actually stress my vocal cords too much and Cutemon will sound really scratchy and weird. As for giving them unique personalities, I feel like they’re written differently enough that it comes out naturally.
Celinda: Wow, that’s so interesting! So I know that you’ve voiced a lot of great characters throughout your career, is there a specific character that you haven’t already voiced that you would like to someday?
Ben: Ummm….……. You know, I never know how to answer this question. I look at each role I get as a small victory in and of itself. I don’t really lust after particular roles; I just see what life brings my way.
Celinda: Ok, so what advice do you have for anyone who wants to get into voice acting?
Ben: The voice acting industry is full of opportunities but it’s also very tricky to get started in. My best advice would be to make sure you understand what you’re getting involved in. If you want this to be your career, you’ll have to move to where the work is, take lessons, make connections, and struggle for years to get people to give you a chance even if you’re already very good. Making a career out of voice acting alone isn’t very common, so make sure you don’t overestimate your abilities. Just because your friends or family tell you you’re good at doing cartoon voices isn’t an indication that this is your future. Remember, if you’re going to be a voice actor, you have to be an actor. This isn’t “doing voices” or “doing impressions;” it’s acting. Can’t act? Don’t waste your time. It’s as simple as that.
Celinda: Lastly, is there anything you would like to tell your fans who are reading this interview?
Ben: Thanks a lot for watching Digimon Fusion!! Season 2 is airing right now on NickToons; go watch it!!!
Keep up with everything Ben is doing:
Facebook Fan Page: Ben Diskin’s Official Fanpage | Facebook