Not that long ago (let’s say the late 90s) and not that far away (somewhere in the warm state of Georgia) someone decided being in front of a camera or behind a microphone was the path she should follow. And for all the nerdy and geeky fans out there, the galaxy became a much better place for it.
Blending a mix of on-camera and voice over work throughout her substantial resume, Catherine Taber could be your favorite performer and you don’t even know it. Here’s just a few of the characters she’s talked life into that you should recognize: April O’Neil, Lori Loud, Rogue, Padme and Princess Leia. Not enough? Do the titles Guardians of the Galaxy, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Avatar, X-Men, Dungeon Siege, Guild Wars, Titanfall, Marvel Heroes, Minecraft, Disney Infinity and Avengers Assemble ring any bells? Oh wait, did I forget to mention Star Wars?
It’s quite possible that Catherine has the single most extensive list of credits that start with the words: Star and Wars. Now that I have you whipped into a nerdy lather, I’ll let this talented performer tell you the rest. Here’s my chat with the very awesome Catherine Taber.
onFiction: Whether it’s via video games or animation, Voice Over seems to be a more recognized segment – or at least a slightly more appreciated one – in the entertainment industry. What led you to becoming a performer and how did VO become such a focus?
Catherine Taber: I knew I wanted to be an actress since I was a little girl. I had made the big cross country move from Georgia to Los Angeles and was just pounding the pavement as they say, working several jobs and going on auditions. I really did not even know what voice over was and had never thought about it, but on a referral, I met with a voice agent, who took a chance on me, and a few days later I booked the role of Mission Vao in Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic.
oF: It’s obviously a massive understatement to say you have a huge and diverse resume, but the bulk of your work seems to cater to the geekier side. Is that a choice in the roles you pursue or is opportunity more the factor?
CT: I think it’s not by choice, necessarily, but I am a huge sci-fi and fantasy fan, so I think I understand and enjoy living in those worlds. That probably comes through in my work and auditions!
oF: You just happen to be the voice of my newest favorite titan in Titanfall 2, what are some of the differences between recording for a game versus animation?
CT: Yes! I was super excited to play Monarch, and 7 is my lucky number, so it made her extra cool. As far as recording, for most games, you are recording by yourself, whereas in animation, you generally try and record ensemble. I love working with other actors, and I think it adds depth to the work, so I prefer that. But Titanfall 2 /Monarch is a perfect example of when recording by yourself makes sense and goes well for the character. And of course on a game like that, you’re not really “alone” because you have your director and the whole awesome creative team in the recording booth cheering you on and explaining details, gameplay etc.
oF: How does your preparation differ between them?
CT: That doesn’t differ too much for me personally. Research if its available, reading and working on your script if you are lucky enough to get it in advance, and then its just about storytelling.
oF: Obviously there’s enjoyable elements to both, but do you have a preference between gaming VO and animation? As a performer, does one provide a better opportunity to be creative over the other?
CT: Well, as I said, I prefer ensemble recordings when possible, but the games I have had the privilege of working on have offered more in-depth acting experiences than anything else I do, with the possible exception of audio books. The storylines, the character arcs I have had, the worlds I have gotten to play in….it is hard to beat games for those fully developed experiences.
oF: I don’t think there’s another single actor who holds more roles/credits in the Star Wars universe than you, what was your experience becoming part of such a global phenomenon and how has that impacted you as a performer?
CT: I know! I keep wanting someone to do a Guinness Book Of World Records submission for me! I really do think I have probably played more roles than any other female at least! I was and am a Star Wars fan, and to say it has shaped my career to be a part of the franchise is an understatement. It has changed my life – the friends, the fans, the opportunities it has provided me are incalculable. Plus I just love the fundamental story of Star Wars – of good fighting evil and standing with your friends for a cause greater than yourself. It’s got everything!
oF: Sadly voice over actors don’t get nearly the recognition they should, but considering the size of the franchises you’re a part of, how would you describe fan response/interactions?
CT: Social media has changed that a lot. I don’t think the business side has realized that yet, but they will. Fans these days know who the actors doing voice roles are, and they are passionate about these franchises, so it matters to them, and we can really feel that passion, which is fantastic.
oF: Your VO credits go at least all the way back to Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, as an industry veteran, how has the world of voice over changed – for better or worse – during your tenure?
CT: Surprisingly, compared to so many people I work with, I am still more of the “new guard”. There are so many great talents who have been working for 20, 30+ years. It has not changed too much since I started. We do more auditioning from home which is convenient and that technically gives more people access. But I don’t see that changing things as much as you would think. A lot of people seem to think it would be easy to work in VO, but that could not be more wrong in my opinion. It takes a lot more than having access to a mic and a computer to compete with the amazing talents already working in VO. You can’t “cheat” in voice over. You won’t work just because you have the right look or are the right age or whatever. In VO, you had to have the real goods to back it up because all you can rely on is your voice and your talent.
oF: Well, you’re not just a talented voice, you do a fair share of live-action as well. When looking for roles in front of the camera, do you want to perform material that’s very different than your normal voice work?
CT: Well, sadly, I can no longer play teenagers in live action or at 5’3″ pull off being a bad ass Titan! So, my on-camera roles are always a little closer to reality. Although, this last year, I did get to play a gun toting redneck and a trauma doctor, so on-camera has its own perks!
oF: What aspects about being on a live action set correlate to your voice work, or do you have a completely different preparation and performing process?
CT: I don’t prepare the material too differently, but the process is very different. You could be on set for a small on-camera role for days, and spend long hours in your trailer. VO work is almost always booked in 4 hour sessions. So it feels more efficient, but then again, it’s over before you know it!
oF: What would you like the next evolution of your career to be? Writer, director, headline a superhero franchise?
CT: I’ll go with headline a superhero franchise! But really, I have no interest in directing. I love being an actress. I guess the dream would be an interesting role in a Sci Fi/Fantasy live action piece. And if I get to do more stunts? All the better!
oF: Throughout all the interviews, is there anything you’d like to talk about but have never been asked?
CT: Not specifically. But I will just end with this: Try to conscientiously be nice to other people even when you don’t need something from them. That’s going to be our best route to a better world and future, in this galaxy and in ones far far away.
oF: Did she just close this out with a Star Wars call back? Perfect!
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