How Sounding Like Matt Hill Landed Me A Role In Powerpuff Girls Z
Hi, Simon here! I want to tell you the story of my journey to being a successful Voice Actor; what made me pursue voice acting and how I landed a role in the Powerpuff Z anime series as the voice of Poochi.
To be honest, the opportunity to work on PPGZ came solely because of the familial Actor genes that I share with my uncle; Matt Hill. If you don’t know him, he is the voice behind Ed from Ed, Edd N Eddy, Kira Yamato from Gundam, Rantaro Kiyama from Beyblade and many others. So with that said, let me shed some light on my early life and journey towards being a successful voice over artist:
Let’s Rewind a Few Decades
Welcome to the inception of the 90s! The cartoon industry was blowing up and relatively new TV channels like Fox Kids were beefing up their lineup with more and more kids entertainment. Shows like Eek the Cat, Bobby’s World, Tiny Toon Adventures, Goof Troop, Tailspin and many more would compel kids like me to sit in front of the TV for hours without a worry in the world — Ahhh, those days!
Anyways, I was about 5 years old at that time and every Saturday morning was like a get-away to worlds where anything could happen. I would sit in front of the TV with a bowl of cereal and watch back-to-back episodes of my favorite cartoons. I would also do impressions of my favoritete characters at school and teach my friends how to change their voices.
The Big Epiphany
At the age of 7, in 1992, I visited the set of a preschoolers’ cult-classic Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3. It was a dream of every kid to see their four mutant heroes in person. Well, thanks to my uncle, Matt Hill, I was the one with the golden ticket to that chocolate factory. Uncle Matt was inside the costume of the witty and ever-sarcastic Raphael.
The whole vibe of that set made me experience an epiphany; I wanted to be an Actor. But, oddly enough, Voice Acting wasn’t on my radar. I’d already heard my voice on tape before — and it was embarrassing!
The Slow Journey Begins
Growing up I didn’t have a lot of opportunity to study acting as I lived in a small town called Vernon in British Columbia Canada. It wasn’t until High School that I could enroll in drama class. I took every opportunity I could to be on stage performing in all the plays put on by the school. And during those informative years, something very helpful happened; my voice matured. And I started to fool my family members into thinking I was my Uncle Matt over the phone. It was fun but I never considered it to be a reason to try Voice Acting at the time.
After graduating from high school I moved to Vancouver to pursue a career as a professional actor. I trained at various schools and built my resume doing volunteer gigs for student films. Although, unfortunately, I didn’t quite feel like I fit in as an Actor.
One night in 2004 after an acting class, sitting in my car, I was crying my eyes out because I just didn’t feel like I belonged as an Actor. While others seemed to love being in front of the camera or on stage, I battled with extreme anxiety & self-doubt that would cripple my performances.
The Aha Moment
In 2005 I had a very brief job at Club Med in the Dominican Republic as a kids club entertainer. On my flight home I remember pondering the idea of becoming a Voice Actor. It suddenly became a very logical choice. At that point my Uncle Matt had already established himself as a very successful performer in the Voice Acting community. I could fool my family members into thinking I was Matt over the phone. I knew I could manipulate my voice into different characters & commercial tones like energetic, funny, and serious, etc. because I used to do it as a kid. And if I sound like Matt who already has a career doing it, I could probably succeed as well. It was in my blood. Mid-flight, somewhere over the United States, I finally had the answer; I would become a Voice Over Artist.
Role in Powerpuff Girls Z — A Pleasant Coincidence
After making the decision to become a voice over artist, the struggle began! The beginning of my career wasn’t a bumpy ride; it was pure downhill! I auditioned for every voice over job I could find in the newspaper or on the internet but faced over 100 rejections before booking my first gig. Now when I look back to that time, I can feel what Jack Ma went through after being rejected for 30 jobs.
Anyways, after months of tireless effort and completing what felt like a century of rejected auditions, I finally booked my first gig. It was for a commercial that paid $75. After all of that struggle, hours of recording and constant pondering over what I was doing wrong; I got a job that paid just $75. But of course, it didn’t break my spirit, I was beyond grateful and I thank my past-self for that otherwise I wouldn’t have become who I am now.
So after successfully completing that first gig, I then started booking small projects here and there more consistently until that BIG moment came when I finally had my first big role. It was the role of Poochi in Powerpuff Girls Z. If you don’t know, it is a very popular Japanese anime based on the original Power Puff Girls. One of the exclusive protagonists in the series is Poochi; the dog of Professor’s son; Ken.
If it weren’t for my uncle’s philanthropic spirit; I would’ve never gotten this role. Matt Hill, my uncle, had to urgently travel outside of Vancouver where the studio was located. He runs a charitable organization named The Run for One Planet, and he had to leave for its promotion. So the studio needed someone to fill his spot for the remaining 14 episodes as the voice of Poochi.
Thanks to the familial genes I share with my uncle and spending 2 years learning my craft as a Voice Actor; preparation met opportunity and had a baby. I was just 22 years old at that time. So if I had screwed it up, my reputation would’ve never been the same — doesn’t seem so lucky now, right? However, with years of practice that I got doing small voice acting jobs, I managed my uncle’s throne just fine!
Powerpuff Girls Z - My Experience of Working with a Big Franchise
Let’s start with the day I went to audition for the role of Poochi. It was just a regular day for most of the people in Vancouver, but not for me! My anxiety was through the roof but I managed to stay calm and kept reminding myself that I can do this, it’s just another voice over job. Thanks to this small pep talk and the helpfulness the shows' director James Corrigall, I managed to crush it in the audition.
And thus began my short but incredible venture with the PowerPuff Girls Z franchise. The work I was doing is called ADR which is the acronym for Additional Dialogue Replacement. Most call it dubbing. Since the good folks at Japan made this anime series for their local audience, we had to dub it in English for international viewers.
There was a small TV inside the recording booth where I would watch the cartoon. When it was my turn to speak, I would hear three consecutive beeps and then say the lines. This was not an ordinary voice over job. Besides maintaining the perfect tone, pitch, and energy of voice, I had to meticulously act within the parameters already set by the previous artists.
It was tough and at times, a bit daunting because I had to race the horses of my creativity while ensuring that my voice synchronized with the expressions and tone of the character on screen. The recording sessions would usually take place in the mornings, so I found my safe haven in energy drinks to get my creative juices flowing. And two Red Bulls later, I would become a voice over savant.
It was challenging, but it was a good kind of challenge that I thoroughly enjoyed. It was also a great learning experience, I got to work with some of the best crew in the industry. I absorbed whatever knowledge bombs they dropped like a sponge. All in all, it was incredible working with the PPGZ franchise and I collected some of the best memories of my professional life.
The Breakthrough Had Happened; Now What?
Now you must be thinking; this guy got to work in such a big franchise, he must’ve become super-rich after that, people would stand outside his door and beg him to do voice-overs for them, right? Well come back to reality my friend; none of that happened for many years.
In fact, a point came in my life when I fell into a bottomless pit of depression & defeat, but I am not in the mood to discuss those dark times; maybe in the future. Anyways, after the Powerpuff Girls Z, I gradually started building my business and after 15 years, I can say I am in a much better place both professionally and personally.
Over these years, I learned things that opened doors to various opportunities for me. I learned how to network in my area of business and meet new clients, how to understand their pain points and provide solutions. I also kept on learning more and more about voice acting and further polished my skills.
What Am I Doing Right Now?
The endless efforts of improving myself paid off and I landed various high-profile projects and have recently collaborated with some of the most popular YouTube Channels such as Actually Happened, Bright Side and Pets Diary. A majority of my clients are filtered through my agents. Some clients visit my website or my Facebook page, shoot me a DM, we discuss the scope of the project and I get started wherever I am.
By “Wherever I Am”, I literally mean no matter where I am, I get to work from there. This is because of the digital nomad lifestyle I’ve adopted for the past 2 years as a traveling voice artist. And this year, I have traveled to Bali, Thailand, Myanmar, and Vietnam while doing all my work in many different hotel rooms with my portable voice over studio; I’ll talk more about this lifestyle in a future post - consider subscribing for updates!
After learning to surf on the beaches of Bali and riding from north to the south of Vietnam on a motorcycle, I am now curious about exploring the ancient temples of Sri Lanka or possibly visiting the beautiful beaches of Antigua. I have documented most of my trips through Vlogs on my YouTube Channel, have a peek if you want. Some of the most candidly captured moments of my trip are also on my Instagram, you can check it out as well.
On a final note; if you liked my story of becoming a voice over artist and working on the Powerpuff Girls Z franchise, feel free to reach out to me through my Facebook Page. I would love to connect with Anime fans and get to know them.
Thank you for reading my story. I hope it can inspire others to take action and prepare for life's biggest opportunities ahead.