Actor and voiceover artist Sean-Ryan Petersen had a regular role voicing Olly in TV series Dive Olly Dive! before going on to more roles including BlackBoxTV and Care Bears: Welcome to Care-a-Lot. Earlier this year, Sean-Ryan began his lead role of Valentino in new animated Cartoon Network comedy Victor & Valentino, which has just been confirmed for a second series. We caught up with Sean-Ryan to talk about starting his career, Dive Olly Dive! and voicing the role of Valentino.
How did you get into voice work and acting?
Around ten years ago, when I was eight, I was watching some awesome cartoons one Saturday morning. It was either Pokémon or Yu-Gi-Oh! when an awesome scene where emotion was conveyed by great voice acting totally wowed me. I turned to my mom and stated loudly and proud, “I want to be a voice on TV”. That would spark my ten-year journey as an actor through which I have met so many wonderful and amazing people in front of and behind the camera.
Who is your character Valentino in the animated series Victor & Valentino?
Valentino is the book-smart and city-code smart half-brother to Victor. They are polar opposites as Victor is the rash, brash and street-smart counter to Val’s more refined temperament. They are spending the summer with their Grandma Chata in the small and supernatural town of Monte Macabre. Each of their adventures brings them into contact with some supernatural being or item inspired by Mesoamerican, Latino folklore. I am very excited about the continued character development that we will see with Val in Season Two.
When did you book and record the role?
In 2017, in November, when I had recently met and joined up with the wonderful agent Melissa Berger Brennan at CESD. In about two weeks, the audition sides for Victor dropped into my inbox. I watched the short that was available on YouTube and tried my best to match the voice. After recording the audition, I was called into the Cartoon Network studio in Burbank, CA where I would meet the big man himself, show creator Diego Molano. I did the callback and I can say this now, it went alright. Meh would be a funny word to describe it with, because despite following direction to the best of my ability, it just wasn’t Victor. I later found out that I was never going to play Victor anyway because Diego heard Valentino in my Victor audition, but he knew I was Valentino even more so when he met me. After the callback I said my farewells, and later that day, more or less three to four hours later, I received word that I got an audition for Valentino. After vigorously preparing for two days, I went in for the callback and the rest is history.
What’s a typical day in the recording studio for this character?
Each day is a new adventure in both script and recording sessions. For the show we record in a group, for that genuine reads that play off your fellow actors. I go in the morning to Cartoon Network Studios, after looking at the script and storyboards a couple of days beforehand, and eagerly I wait to meet my fellow actors in the green room. Once I have done my fair share of fanboying at the person I’ve met (Carolina Ravassa, Yuri Lowenthal, Fred Tatasciore, Dee Bradley Baker, Tom Kenny, the lovely Cristinas [Vee and Milizia], the list goes on and on) we go in to record the episode. We laugh, tell jokes, stories and overall have an amazing time whilst enjoying each other’s work as our respective characters on the show. Each session is truly an amazing experience.
Was there anything in particular that drew you to the production?
The story and premise of the show. Half-brothers or not, I have a brother and I know what it is like to be different and sometimes that leads to adventures and cool experiences while still having that healthy brotherly tough love. That, as well as the supernatural Mesoamerican-based culture. I am Latino and was raised by my beloved Abuela as well as my parents. To see and learn more about my culture is beautiful in itself, and this show does a great job of turning it into something for all to see.
What are you looking forward to for the release of Series 2?
I am just really looking forward to every episode. This project is something that I truly love and adore with all of my being. I can’t wait for everyone else to enjoy it.
The show airs on Cartoon Network, how is it working on one of their productions?
Cartoon Network is an amazing company. The way they run things, the environment in the workplace, and the appreciation for art creates an incredibly friendly vibe just walking in the door.
You voiced the role of Olly in Dive Olly Dive!, was this your first voiceover series to work on?
It was the first voiceover job that I ever did and I must say that it was the greatest introduction into the industry a kid actor could ask for. Bob Doucette and Peter Anderson were the kindest people to me and the employees at the studio we recorded at treated me like a little brother. That show holds a special place in my heart.
Do you have a fondest memory from your time involved with the show?
Every single session was a fond memory and honestly, I don’t think I can pick one. I used to have a hard time laughing on cue so Bob and Peter would crack jokes to make me laugh. The staff at the studio where we recorded were also incredibly nice, at one point they remembered my favourite snacks so each time I came in they would have some fresh popcorn ready for me as well as grapes. For the first job I ever worked on in the industry, it was quite a special one. The people I worked with were kind and Dive Olly Dive! will always hold a very special place in my heart.
We understand you attended The Hollywood Christmas Parade, how was the experience?
I actually didn’t attend, I was sick that day.
How do you get into the voice character in roles such as Ethan and Clem in Care Bears: Welcome to Care-a-Lot?
Truly, I just reviewed the breakdown, and having a familiarity with what Bob from Dive Olly Dive! wanted, we were able to figure out just how to bring Clem and Ethan to life. It was a bit out of character of me to play a bully, but then again, doing something that isn’t you can be fun to explore and create.
How different did you find filming your episode of Game Shakers to your previous roles?
When I filmed Game Shakers, that was one of my first times of being on the set of one of the biggest companies in terms of live-action youth TV shows. It was quite the experience considering that most of my work experience also involved being in a recording studio instead of a live set. The sheer amount of people from those who worked behind the screen to those who worked in front of the camera was awesome to see. Everyone was there including writers and producers. It was very different but also very fun and refreshing and something I would definitely want to do again.
Who’s been the most challenging character to voice and which did you find came easiest?
Well, in all honesty, I sound like Valentino naturally, my friends have told me that my natural speaking voice sounds like Valentino when he is older. So, when I go in the studio, all I really have to do is pitch up my voice and speak very intellectually with some over-articulation. In terms of most challenging voices, I haven’t really done a job where the voice was very challenging. Now, in terms of auditions, there have been plenty of roles where I have had to dig incredibly deep into my metaphorical voice toolbox to try and come up with a voice. Though I could say there were some challenges voicing the BlackBox for BlackBoxTV as the character is a very charismatic, matter of fact narrator.
Can you give any advice to young people wanting to get into voiceover work?
My advice to the youngsters trying to get into voice work would be to believe in yourself and your dedication. Of course, it never hurts to play video games and watch cartoons as those will help you build up your range of voices. It does come down to accepting rejection because in this industry there will be hundreds upon thousands of jobs you won’t book in your, potentially, many years so you will just have to take that rejection and use it as fuel for the next audition. Though I can say that sometimes rejection may be nothing to do with you or your audition, it can be because they change the character from male to female or vice versa. They may want someone older or younger. The thing is don’t focus on the no, focus on what you can do.
Do you have any roles booked for the rest of the year that you can say more about?
While I do not have any current jobs running besides Victor & Valentino, I am working on a personal project that I am very excited for, though I can’t share too many details just yet.
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