Interview with Voice Director Andrea Romano (part 2 of 3)
Acastus: Have you voice-acted or acted in roles before? Any examples would be great.
Andrea: I've been appearing in cartoons since the early 1990's. One of my first appearances is in a wonderful episode of Pinky & the Brain where I appear as myself (caricature by Rogerio Nogueira, a fantastically talented Brazilian artist working at Warner Bros. at the time as a character designer...who I had the good sense to marry!) The episode is based on an infamous out-take reel from several recording sessions done by Orson Welles. The episode is called "Yes, Always" and I appear at the very top, and very end of the episode. I've appeared in many shows since then...often as myself (or as the "director"), but also as minor characters here and there. I don't cast myself in the projects. I only do a voice if requested to do so by the producer.
Acastus: How did your career evolve into voice direction? Was that always your goal?
Andrea: I began my career as an actress, receiving a BFA from the State University of NY at Fredonia (who recently honored me with a lifetime achievement award). I then went on to Rutgers for a year in the masters program. Before I finished my degree, I felt the need to get out of academia and go test the waters in the real world. I spent some time beating the pavement in Manhattan while working as a cashier at Capezio in the Village (dance and high fashion clothes & footwear). In 1979, I packed up my life into my mother's attic and moved to San Diego (with the huge sum of $400 to my name).
I very soon discovered the lack of acting opportunities available in San Diego. Luckily, I was contacted by a college buddy who turned me on to a job as a voice over agent's assistant. Voice over agents represent voice actors for commercial and animation work as well as promo and movie trailer work...all voice over work. I began as an assistant...a few months later I was the youngest franchised agent in Los Angeles.
I left there a few years later to start a voice department at a "boutique" (meaning specialized...not a million clients) agency. After being an agent there for a few years, I was offered the job of casting director for Hanna Barbera productions. It was truly the offer of a lifetime. I had the wonderful experience working with the brilliant Gordon Hunt (he was doing all the voice directing for Hanna Barbera) one of the best mentors anyone could hope for. I was at Hanna Barbera during the time of The Smurfs, The Snorks, Popeye and Son, Pink Panther & Son, A Pup Named Scooby Doo...dozens and dozens of cartoons were produced there every season.
In 1989, several people from Hanna Barbera took a giant leap of faith, left our secure jobs, and formed Warner Brothers Animation. I became a free-lance voice director and haven't stopped working since! (Whew!) We made several series with Steven Spielberg...Tiny Toon Adventures, Animaniacs, Pinky & the Brain, Freakazoid. I also started casting and directing action cartoons like Batman, Superman, Justice League, Batman Beyond. I did many series for other studios as well...Duck Tales for Disney TV (even did a season of Winnie the Pooh!), Rescue Rangers...a few projects for Universal (the first 5 or so videos of Land Before Time).
Acastus: Do you pick the projects you are work on or do the projects pick you? What interested you in Avatar?
Andrea: Really interesting question! And very hard to answer. Sometimes it has to do with the producer...if it's someone I've worked with and had good experiences with, I'm much more likely to agree to come and play. Sometimes it has to do with the kind of show it is...for example, if I've been directing a lot of "action" shows/...like Batman, Justice League, etc., I might be looking for something more "cartoony" or a comedy so I don't feel like I'm in a rut! Sometimes, it's just plain luck!
With "Avatar", I had directed three or four pilots in the same season for Nickelodeon...including "Avatar". I liked the show so much right from the very beginning...I liked the producers/creators, I thought the show had great potential, and it was both an action show as well as having humor and stories about "real" people. People (especially kids) with doubts about their abilities even if they possess certain special skills is something we can relate to on a personal level. And I loved the art work, too. What also appealed to me was how much attention the people working on the show paid to detail...all across the board. Everyone works very hard to make sure things are just as we want them...we rarely settle for just "good". I've been known to record a single sound (an "oof", or a scream or an animal sound) over many, many takes until I find what I think is the absolute right sound for the moment. Some might call that "anal", I prefer to label it "precise"!
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