I’m back with some more interviews courtesy of Awesome-Con. This year I talked to two wonderful ladies of Rooster Teeth, Barbara Dunkelman, and Lindsey Jones.
Barbara and I spoke about her time with Rooster Teeth from being a fan to being a big-time cast member in the company. Including her work on RWBY, her own show Always Open and a movie she stars that is hitting Film Festivals, Blood Fest.
Gage: First I want to ask about South By Southwest as that just happened, how was the event?
Barbara: It was awesome, we premiered bloodfest at South By. The first movie we’ve ever made get into a Film Festival. So that was a really cool experience. It was pretty busy with the screening and doing press all throughout the week but it was really, really cool.
Gage: That leads into my next question, how was the premiere for Blood Fest? How was the overall reception?
Barbara: I think a lot of people were really excited. Going to the screening was exciting and also really nerve-racking for me just because that’s the first time I’ve ever been in a movie like that so watching everyone’s reaction was terrifying. But everyone was laughing at all the right moments and screaming at all the right moments and it was just really cool to see something that you’ve seen, see and get to experience it with you. It was awesome.
Gage: You were nervous going into it? You still get nervous doing all of these events?
Barbara: Oh absolutely. [laughing] I’m a nervous wreck at all times. I mean, even doing stuff on camera or interviews or panels or anything, every single time I do it, I’m still nervous.
Gage: Hell, I was nervous before this interview, so I can relate. Now, is Blood Fest a stepping stone for you towards more acting roles? I know you’ve done other productions around Rooster Teeth but are you interested in doing more acting in Rooster Teeth or even outside of the company?
Barbara: I’m definitely more interested in acting now, I think Blood Fest was definitely a stepping stone. I had never done anything that big before. Obviously, things like Ten Little Roosters, Eleven Little Roosters and things like that are more long form but they’re shorter shooting periods. Maybe like ten or eleven days where movies are a month or more.
But it definitely made me more interested in doing it. Especially getting to act alongside these big actors who a lot of people know and getting to work with professionals in this industry, I think, definitely elevated my performance and made me more interested in doing this.
I still want to remain at Rooster Teeth, obviously, and getting to work with them is my priority, but I’m definitely interested in doing more stuff like that.
Barbara: That was something that kind of popped out of nowhere. We’re very close with the guys over at Kinda Funny and IGN. And they were looking for someone to help co-host this new series that they were doing and Tim Gettys over at Kinda Funny, who use to work at IGN, he said, “hey, Barabra would be a great fit for this.” So they contacted me and I was able to go out to San Fransico to film that for a couple days. And it was my first time meeting Brian and he and I gelled really well. We had great chemistry and he was really fun to hang out with.
Gage: Now more on the side of Rooster Teeth, you have a show, Always Open. Is that your brainchild, is it something you’ve always wanted to do with Rooster Teeth or did it just spring up for you?
Barbara: It’s definitely something that sprung up, I never really had the intention of hosting my own show but it’s something that myself and Mariel [Salcedo] primarily worked on for about a year before it really turned into what it is. We spent a lot of time trying to figure out what type of show we could do, how to make the voice of the show right. Because we didn’t just want to do the Rooster Teeth Podcast but for girls. Because that’s not really serving a purpose and it feels shoehorned in. So we really wanted to find our own voice for a show. And after a lot of work with some very talented producers here and some creative minds we came up with the concept it. We’ve been really, really proud of how it’s turned out.
Gage: Now, do you have any dream guests for Always Open?
Barbara: [laughing] Oh, I have tons. There are lots of people I’d love on the show. I’d love Grace Helbig, Mamrie Hart and I would also love to have the girls from Broad City on at some point. One of my favorite shows and I think they’d be a great fit for the show. I’m hoping someday we’ll get in contact with them.
Gage: Getting to where you are now with Rooster Teeth, what was your growth like within the company?
Barbara: It’s kind of hard to comprehend. We’re actually working right now on a 15-year Anniversary Documentary, and just before this phone, I just finished watching it. And it shows a lot of pictures and videos from our early years in the community and starting at rooster teeth. And, I was just excited to be here and do anything I could when I first started and I still feel that way but now I get to produce, I get to write, I get to act, and I’ve become such a big part of the cast at Rooster Teeth which is something I never thought I’d be able to say. So it’s extremely surreal and humbling to go from fan to community manager and to all these other things that I do here.
Gage: I remember listening to old episodes of the Rooster Teeth podcast and they were still calling you BlawnDee around the office.
Barbara: [laughing] Yeah, sometimes BlawnDee still slips out every now and then.
Gage: And you’re a part of RWBY and seeing RWBY blow up like it has from a passion project to what it is now. Of course, no one ever anticipates their project blowing up and being this huge thing but what was it like seeing this kind of explosion for RWBY?
Barbara: Being with Rooster Teeth for so long and knowing our community, I knew it was going to be successful, I knew people were going to like it but I had no idea the extent of how big it would become and how popular it would be. So to see it grow, not only within our fan base but just expanding and going to Japan and all these other countries and now the other girls and I go to conventions almost two, three times a month. And it’s just a never-ending amount of love and support for the show from all over. So it’s extremely surreal and to be such a big part of that is something I never thought I’d be able to do, let alone be a voice actress in anything.
Gage: Do you still get fans who are fans of RWBY but not necessarily fans of Rooster Teeth come see you at conventions?
Barbara: Yeah, that’s happened a few times. The moment I remember the most was at New York Comic Con two years ago. Lindsey Jones and I were at the booth signing autographs and there were some fans who came up and said, “hey we’re looking for the voices of Ruby and Yang, are you guys them?” And we said, “Yeah!” and they were like, “Oh cool, what’s your names?” So they knew our characters and they knew the voices of the show were there but they didn’t know who we were. Which is usually the complete opposite of how it usually works.
Gage: Yea, usually its Barabara is over here, and its a big ol’ line.
Barbara: [laughing] A medium sized line.
Gage: With everything you’ve done at Rooster Teeth is there anything that sticks out as the best moment or the most memorable? Like anything that says, “this is my career at Rooster Teeth.”
Barbara: Oh man, I think are two moments that kind of stand out and both involve RTX. In 2013 when we premiered the first episode of RWBY at RTX and seeing people go, for lack of a better term, bat-shit crazy and have so much excitement for something that didn’t know anything about and getting to see that excitement in the room and that energy, that’s something I’ll carry with me forever. So that was an amazing moment.
And it wasn’t one moment in particular but it was the RTX after we started Always Open, which I guess was just this past year. Getting people who would come up to our signings or see us on the convention floor and just talk about how the show has had such an impact on their life and how they listened to something we talked about and how it was a problem they had been struggling with for years and never knew anyone else had the same problem and it was just life-changing for them. So just getting to be apart of something that could help someone’s life in such a huge way is something that I will take with me forever.
The best place to get more of Barbara Dunkelman and check out her content is on RoosterTeeth.com. Of course, you can follow her on Twitter for the occasional pun and links to her shows Always Open, RWBY and more. Rooster Teeth just celebrated their 15th Anniversary and I’m sure they’ll have a ton of stuff hitting the internet in the coming weeks, including the mentioned 15th Anniversary Documentary.