Actor Erik Todd Dellums has worked with the likes of Nickelodeon, and Bethesda Game Studios. In this interview, he details the ins and outs of the on camera and voice acting industry, along with his future goals. Read on for a look into the life and mind of this extremely talented man.
As a new “face” to the video game voice acting realm, where do you envision your career taking you next? Do you have an ideal character that you’re itching to embody?
I stumbled into video game voice acting while pursuing live action gigs, so I was stunned and excited by the response to “Three Dog” from “Fallout 3!” It opened a creative door I’ve always wanted to enter more fully: animated character acting. Before “Three Dog,” my only credit was the wonderful character, “Koh” in “Avatar: The Last Airbender.” I loved that gig, but didn’t have an agent to grab any further auditions. Now, my hope is to truly breakthrough in the video game realm and to establish myself as an actor with the ability, through my voice, to present a myriad of characters I could only dream about doing in live action. I am having a ball with the “League of Legends” series’ character, Nasus. Nothing like using a big, deep, Darth Vader-esq voice! As far as an ideal character to embody, I would love a shot at one of the iconic villains or heroes. No need to name names! I just want an opportunity to put my special, unique stamp on one of them!
What things do you take into consideration when creating a character?
For live action, there is so much preparation. I love that aspect of acting: research, emotional background, etc. For videogame work thus far, I’ve had to rely on instinct and emotional flexibility because I’ve been simply tossed in front of a microphone without the luxury of preparation. I’ve either simply created a voice that producers have liked or been told just before I’ve started to utter my first line who the character is or will be. The recordings have been so secretive that I’ve flown in the dark at the mic and simply grabbed whatever insight I can from the director as we record. It’s tough, but fascinating.
As someone who began their journey acting for the camera, how does having that very element taken away affect your performance?
It’s very strange actually, not having the use of my physicality to assist in a role. I’m a truly unique type: 6’6’’ tall and slim with a unique face, so I’m used to having all of it at my disposal. I’m rarely cast, so a producer or director usually has some real faith in my uniqueness when they cast me. Not having use of all of myself, if you will, is odd, but it works for me because I usually attempt something unique vocally with all of my live acting characters anyway.
How would you describe the day-to-day life of a voice actor in the sound booth? What does a normal day entail?
All I know is that I am praying to one day be a BUSY actor! I don’t care in what vein. Most people assume, due to the wonderful response I have gotten to my voice work, that I’m a busy man. In fact, I’m not busy working. I’m usually busy looking for work and auditioning. My day to day work is usually in the tiny booth in my closet, auditioning for a gig provided by my agents. When I am blessed with a gig, I either record in my home studio with a producer or director on a phone patch, or head out to a major recording studio and work directly with a sound engineer. Those are usually the bigger, more lucrative gigs.
In the popular game Skyrim you play Nazir, how long did it take to complete his dialogue for the game?
Nazir was actually a very short work day. I was done in a couple of hours. I really wish that were a larger role. I loved working with the director on that piece.
As you mentioned before, you played a character on Avatar The Last Airbender “Koh The Face Stealer”. ATLA is arguably the most revered television show of my generation- with a thriving fan base that continues to live on through Korra. I remember the day when “The Siege of The North, Part 2” aired in 2005. I know I’m not alone in saying that Koh is undoubtedly one of the most memorable characters of that series.
How did you prepare for that character? How much information did they give you beforehand?
Life is funny. I played a drug lord on a series called “Homicide,” a character that was revered named Luther Mahoney. A true fan of the series also happened to be one of the brilliant people behind ATLA. He reached out to me to voice “Koh.” I was stunned and humbled. I simply went down to a studio and, with this brilliant man on the phone from Nickelodeon Studios in LA, recorded this extraordinary character. I knew nothing of the series until after the session, when I went home and fell in love with it. I am forever grateful for that role. It is because of this same man that I am working on “League of Legends.” Remarkable. A true blessing.
Did you record with Zach Tyler Eisen together or separately? If together, what was that like?
We have never even met! But they put us together vocally seamlessly.
At the time, did you have any idea that the show would become as popular as it is today, with a devout fan base 10 years later?
No clue. Such a blessing. I would love to attend a gathering with the creative people behind it and the fans. (hint hint!)
For any aspiring actors or voice actors, what advice would you have to give them?
Record your voice doing what you do best. Study your craft. Be fearless. Shove your tape or headshot in front of whoever you can. Or use YouTube, etc. Just get out there and believe.
Thank you so much for your time! It’s been a pleasure talking with you, and I am excited for whatever comes your way next.
Be sure to follow Erik on Twitter for all of his latest news @ETDellums