Interview With Anime Voice Actress Abby Trott (Part 1)

Abby Trott Reveals How She Got the Role of Miss Monochrome

Monochrome and Seven Deadly Sins Anime Voice Actress, Abby Trott
Anime Voice Actress, Abby Trott. Abby Trott

This is part one of a two-part interview with voice actress, Abby Trott. In it we discuss how she landed the lead role of Miss Monochrome, in the anime series of the same name, and also what it was like to work on her second role in the Netflix anime series, The Seven Deadly Sins.

Brad: Hi, Abby. Thanks for taking the time to do this interview!

Abby: Oh, no problem. I’m glad to do it!

Your first major voice acting role was that of the lead character in the English dub of the anime series, Miss Monochrome but you didn’t land this role through the usual audition process. You actually won it as part of an internet reality show series called, Perfect Idol. Can you tell us a bit about that experience?

Sure. When I got back to the States in the June, I was looking for some voice work online because I had done some in Japan and I knew I wanted to get into that. I was in Massachusetts though and there wasn’t really anything there.

I think I just stumbled across this competition while surfing online and I remember thinking it was really cool because it was sponsored by Bang Zoom! Entertainment, which is a studio in Burbank, and it was co-sponsored by Starchild Entertainment in Japan, which is a talent agency that works with a lot of pop idols that sing anime songs and that sort of thing.

It was like an anime voiceover competition and they wanted people to make a talent video and an anime voiceover video. I wasn’t sure if they wanted me to do imitation work or original voices so for my first video I did a bunch of imitations.

Yeah, I saw that video. Your Ash Ketchum Pokemon voice was perfect!

Oh, thank you! I love doing impressions. It was funny because I almost didn’t enter. On the day it was due, I frantically edited all of my clips together, and I was afraid of putting my video on YouTube, because I’m afraid of being judged by people, but I asked my family if I should and they said I should so I did and here we are.

So, you didn’t do any YouTube videos before this?

No. I think it was my first one that I posted.

Oh, wow.

Yeah. And I’ve only done one or two since. I want to do more though.

But it is great that you dived right in despite your reservations. What happened after you submitted your video?

It was a really long ongoing process. They hadn’t done anything like this before.

They had three judges and the judges would watch each video and give comments.

While this long process was happening, I moved to New York, and was taking acting classes while trying to get my commercial demo together.

Was studying voice acting useful?

Totally. It turned out to be really useful because commercial voice work in America is completely different than in Japan. I learned a lot and made some fantastic contacts through studying that connected me to agencies and got me auditions for various roles.

While I was taking finals in New York last summer, they were coming up with the finalists for the competition and had call-backs. As part of the second stage, I had to do an audition via Skype with one of the judges which happened to be Patrick Seitz, who’s awesome. He’s also a theater major and we bonded over that. I ended up doing a voice impression for him… and it was pretty bad [Laughs]… but it got me through to the finals.

For those that didn’t watch the show as it premiered online, can you tell us a bit about the format and structure?

I actually can’t remember how many episodes there were but it basically followed the narrowing down of a variety of voice actors.

Kind of like Survivor?

Yeah, but it was kind of thrown together and much more casual. Throughout the show, we were presented with a variety of challenges. Like, in the second episodes, we had to do a monologue and then the judge would give you feedback and try to direct you to test you and see if you could take direction. In the final round, we all went to L.A. and we were told to audition in front of all of the judges using the Miss Monochrome script. It was REALLY scary but it was fun. By the final round it was narrowed down to only four people

And you won! You won a role in the Miss Monochrome anime series.

The judges were hoping for that. They were working on the show and thought it would be great if they could cast the winner in a show but it wasn’t a guarantee. Like, if the winner was…

Not good? [Laughs]

[Laughs] …not a good fit for the main lead. They promised that if they could they would and they really liked my Miss Monochrome so they cast me in that role and Sandy had the perfect voice for Mana, so they gave her that role. Ian and John were both really great and they were given smaller parts in the show as well but no one was guaranteed a thing when we started.

How soon after you won did you record the role?

As soon as they announced the winner they had me pop over to the booth next door and start recording. [Laughs]

The same day?

The same day. Right after. I just had a few minutes to gather my stuff and get in there [Laughs]. Part of the reason for that though was that they knew I had to fly back to New York very soon afterwards and they had a very limited timeframe to get me to record the lines.

You recorded an entire series at once?

We recorded a bunch of lines on the first day and then on the following day we recorded the rest. Because it’s a very short series, only about 13 episodes, it didn’t take long as a typical series would have so we got through.

That sounds crazy.

Oh, I was happy to do it. It was great. And they were paid jobs. It wasn’t all, “Congratulations! Now work for us for free!” [Laughs]

To prepare for the role of Miss Monochrome, did you watch the original Japanese version beforehand? How did you choose your voice?

Well, the Japanese version had already come out on Crunchyroll, so I already had an idea of what the character sounded like and I tried to maintain that tone and personality, that sort of robotic feeling in my audition.

Did you try to directly imitate the Japanese actress and basically go for a voice that was identical but speaking English? Or did you go for the English-speaking cultural equivalent of the Japanese character?

In that situation, I tried to keep the tone of the voice and the pitch the same but I also tried to sound like a native English-speaker to keep it natural.

It was a tricky voice because it’s robotic. She’s an android but there’s also moments where she shows emotion so I had to find a balance between not sounding completely robotic yet also not sounding overly emotional.

Did you have any difficulty recording the role?

It took me a bit of time to get used to dubbing to the mouth flaps. I still need to practice [Laughs]. The more you do it, the better you get at it though. The process was new to me, recording the way they did, where they give you a series of beeps and then on the fourth beep you start speaking and try to match the flaps. It took a little time to get used to that and I was so worried about doing a good job. Patrick was directing and Mami was in there for a little bit as well and I really wanted to impress them as I didn’t have much voice acting experience at the time and they didn’t know what they were going to get.

Did you have to do multiple takes on lines?

Yeah, there are always lines you need to do multiple times on and Patrick would always give me suggestions for different ways to approach dialogue. Sometimes I’d even say, “Oh, I like it like this. Let’s go with that.”

Was it everything you thought it would be? Did it meet your expectations of what it would be like to voice an anime character?

I think so, yeah. I wasn’t sure exactly what it would be like to voice anime in particular but most of the elements I expected were there.

It’s really fun. It’s fun to play a character and become a character through voice and it’s great with anime because you can see the character on screen that you’re dubbing. You almost feel like you’re in that world, like you become a part of it.

That’s fantastic. And now you’ve just completed voicing your second anime character in another series.

Yes. We just finished The Seven Deadly Sins which is out now on Netflix.

How did you get that role? Was that also through the same agency?

That was also through Bang Zoom!, yes. They knew my work and my voice so they cast me as Veronica, who was kind of a tougher character.

How long after Miss Monochrome was The Seven Deadly Sins?

Well, we finished Miss Monochrome in February and then I moved down here in May. I’d done a few other projects with Bang Zoom! that weren’t anime, such as a few games and apps that I can’t go into too much detail about right now, and then after that I did The Seven Deadly Sins.

Was Veronica on The Seven Deadly Sins different than Miss Monochrome or similar?

Yeah, Miss Monochrome is a much higher, almost nasal, character while Veronica is closer to my normal voice. I tried to keep her more in the lower range. She’s kind of rude almost. A little pushy.

Was that anime series more work?

Yes, but it wasn’t for me as my character in The Seven Deadly Sins only appears in a few episodes. We had a different director for that show though, Chris Cason, who has a different style of directing and it was really great to work with him to see a different style and he’s very particular about his dubs. He’s very meticulous about getting the lip-flaps to match and the sound to sound natural. He’ll even rewrite dialogue to make it sound right. And the feedback that has come back so far has been really good as a result of his dedication.

What sort of role would you like to do next?

I love to play really crazy characters. I don’t think I come across as a crazy person but I love to do really weird anime character kind of stuff. I would love to play a character that’s not a person, like Chopper from One Piece, or something like that. That would be so much fun.

Check back soon for part two of our interview with Abby Trott where we talk about what it was like to live and work in Japan, how that affects her anime voice acting in the U.S., and what advice she would give to aspiring voice actors looking to get started in the industry. Fans can follow Abby on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram.

CONNECT WITH BRAD: Google+ | Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest | Tumblr | Flipboard | Instagram | Ello