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Celebrating 20 years of Supanova with Veronica Taylor

On the lead up to Sydney & Perth Supanova, Kapow had a chance to sit down with the very lovely and talented Veronica Taylor.

Veronica Taylor is a classically trained actor who found her way into voice acting while performing in the Batman Stunt Show at Six Flags Great Adventure. She became a mainstay of Saturday morning cartoons, best known for playing the original Ash and May on the first 8 seasons of “Pokémon”, April on “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” (2003- 2007) and roles in “Yu-Gi-Oh!”, “Cubix”, “Dinosaur King”, “Winx Club”, “One Piece”, and more with 4Kids. She has done numerous voices for animation, video games, audiobooks, commercials, and documentaries.

KAPOW! : Hi Veronica, thanks so much for talking with us.

Veronica Taylor : Hi, I'm super excited!

Let’s go back to the beginning how did your acting career start?

I started acting when I was five, I have a bachelor's in acting from undergrad and I have a master's in acting from grad school. I did a lot of plays, I toured the U.S with Shakespeare, contemporary plays, children's theatre and then I simply happened to get an audition through an acting coach that I was working with for an anime. They said "Oh, can you audition for this" and then I booked that and it just kind of built from there.

I was working on a project called Slayers when the audition for Pokémon came up. The same people who cast me in Slayers were holding the auditions for Pokémon and then it just kind of went from there. It's kind of that, you know, you pack your trunk with all of your talents and then you're just ready for when you get to a door. You knock, it opens and then you go in and see where it goes. You just never know.

Playing such an iconic character like Ash and it being so well received were you always happy to revisit the character and come back to it again?

Well, the thing is Pokémon was great to work on. I was in the first eight years of the show before Pokémon USA replaced us, otherwise I would still be working on it for sure. I loved the idea of Pokémon, I love the freedom of the adventures that they go on; and the friendships that they develop. All of that is really fun to play.

I'm always happy to talk about Pokémon at any point because it's something that has hit people so deeply and they're so deeply connected to it, as am I. To be able to go 20 years later and talk to someone about when they were 10 and watching the show before school, or on Saturday mornings. Talking to someone about how they would go after school to their grandmothers and watch it with someone, or made their best friend when they would go outside and play Pokémon. All of that is what makes it so important to me. It's kind of the now of it because I've been lucky enough to hear so many stories from people and all of their incredible experiences. That is what I think, makes Pokémon very special, more so than any project I've ever worked on.

Are there any other characters in the anime world that you'd really like to have a shot at?

I audition for so many things every day that I don't get, so pretty much I like everything that I audition for. To be honest, I've never been one to set my sights on something and then hope I get it, I'm pretty much a little too busy to do that.

I also do a lot of audiobooks, other cartoons and video games so I pretty much just deal with what comes my way and do my best with that. Then hope that something comes of it.

We're massive Ninja Turtles fans here at Kapow and you did a lot of work as April O'Neil in the 2003 Series of TMNT, can you tell us about some of your experiences on the show?

A lot of the work that I was doing in the early 2000s was anime, so for anime you match the lip flap and your parameters for expression are limited by what the picture dictates and with Ninja Turtles that was a pre-lay show. TMNT we recorded V.O first and then they animated later but with that specifically we got to rehearse the script and work together in the booth.

The storyboard artists were all in-house so you could go over and see what they were working on. It was so much more collaborative than other projects that I've worked on. It was amazing plus the stories were good. It really goes with the comic books, it had such a great action to it and I only wish that April had a little bit more of that action. I'm not really a big one for fighting but they did do a lot of it so I wish she were a little more involved.

You mention the lip flap in Anime, I guess that's why a lot of the English dubs talk really fast?

That's right, so one of my favourite cartoons ever was Speed Racer and I got to meet Peter Fernandez and Corinne Orr who played Peter and Trixie. In the very beginning, they said that when they worked on the show in the 60s they didn't have the technology we have now, like pro tools to cut and move things around. They would have to just take a deep breath then just get through all of the lines to fit in and try to get it in. That show specifically, the dialogue is very fast. We have it a little easier now because you could get a sound at the beginning that they could punch your voice in after and then you could work the next part of the sentence if you had to.

All those strange pauses that are put in, you have to make sense of that, I think that's where some of your acting talent comes in. Sometimes it's really fast, it's strange I don't know what you call a posi blocky something like that but you really are at the mercy of the lip flap for sure. I worked on Cubix and that is Korean and in the Korean language there's an open mouth sound at the end of many sentences. Many of the characters ended with an open mouth so we had to switch things often until things got rolling in the studio to switch a word that was more open, you know little technical things.

Has the voice acting helped in other areas of your career?

I think the thing is when you're on stage you have your full body to express something, when you're on screen you can raise an eyebrow and it gets something across but with voiceover you have to be much more specific and expressive with your voice.

It has taught me a lot, It doesn't necessarily translate specifically to stage and screen but it does help you to be more expressive in specific ways. When you're doing something, it does help you to figure out what sound can get some emotion across. The differences you can do are all so tiny that they would translate much more in a cartoon and it wouldn't at all on stage.

What do you love about coming to Supanova and doing these type of events?

First of all Supanova is a wonderful family-run show. Daniel is incredible.

I don't know how he's been doing this for so long, he has a super team that works with him. When I come to Supanova, it's like I'm going to a family and I often see people through the years so again it's like a giant family. It's amazing to know that my projects have reached around the world but it's just another example of how we really are one world you know that we are so super connected or I should say "Supa" connected by Supanova. It's extraordinary. I'm able to travel a bit and really meet the community. My daughter and I like to get out to the city and check out a farmer's market, go to a local restaurant, local brewery or coffee shop. Those things where you really see the community, see what makes it tick, see what makes it different from other places and definitely going to any part of Australia. We've been able to learn so much about the people, about the places and it's quite an honour to be a guest. We try to take full advantage of it.

You're celebrating your 20th anniversary with Supanova, do you have any favourite memories?

Oh gosh I've met so many amazing talented people who are guests there. I think my favourite memories is simply that I've been able to meet people when they were 10 and now through these years I've seen them come back and they say " I'm getting out of high school" or "I just got my first job", " I graduated university" or "I just got married, this is my child " you know..

I've been able to span those 20 years and feel like I live there. It's not a specific memory but it's an overall one of how joyful this whole adventure has been and being able to to be a returning guest is so extraordinary. It's an honour that I do not take lightly and I so appreciate it. You know there's always little stories that people tell about growing up and all of that but certainly just seeing people over and over has been the most extraordinary.

Do you have any up & coming projects you can talk about?

The really weird thing about working at home is that it all kind of globs together. I don't have to go to a studio so thinking about what I'm working on is hard to pinpoint. I'm doing a lot of audio books and I just finished four and I have two more to go.

I start on those in two weeks then I'm doing some anime and some video games. I don't know honestly what's out or what's been announced. I don't know who knows that I'm working on and I also don't know all the titles so I can't really say.

They're all secret sometimes I get video games and it has a fake name on it, so even I don't know what it's called until it's come out and then I have to check to see if it really is me.

Do you have a message for your fans that are coming see you?

I think the reality is I'm so honoured to have this opportunity to come to Australia especially after all that we've all been through and what we're still going through. The chance for us to be and come back together just for a moment and figure out how we're forging our path forward. I can't wait to see everyone and just have a moment to have a hug *masked* of course.

It has been an incredibly difficult time so we have a moment of joy and we move forward from there. These are big times, Supanova has been there for all of us for these 20 years and it's still there for all of us, that's the important thing that it trudges on. We all find a way to come back together in the safest way possible. We are the community.

We are there for one another and for these two events for Sydney and Perth, it's extraordinary.

You can catch Veronica Taylor at Supanova on the 18th-19th in Sydney & Perth 25th-26th

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