Like the first day of Connecticon XVII, the final day of Connecticon XVII kicked off with a couple of special Q&A conferences for the press. The first conference early Sunday morning featured voice actors Jake Paque (Pokémon) and Tara Sands (Pokémon).

After brief introductions from Connecticon staff host Erin, things began. Paque started by talking about how he liked Connecticon so far, calling it “amazing.” His panels went well, and the energy levels at them were high.

Then the panel opened up to questions from the audience. Because both Paque and Sands have done a number of voices for various Pokémon, it was pretty much inevitable that the first question would be about the direction one gets for playing what is essentially an animal. Sands said that sometimes she would just be directed to imitate whatever the Japanese voice actors for the creatures had done, and Paque added that there was sometimes more freedom with human Pokémon characters.

Sands and Paque agreed that they make weirder faces when voicing Pokémon. They asked that we not take pictures of those faces.

They were also asked if they had grown up talking funny or imitating people. Sands said that she had grown up a singer, so she had grown up knowing how to play with her voice a little. She would also imitate commercials. Paque explained that he had grown up playing with toys and making up the stories and had simply never stopped doing that, eventually getting into acting. As college was ending, it occurred to him that there was a market out there for exactly that.

As for watershed moments that “opened the door” to their current careers, Sands said she had happened to be apart of a singing contest when she was 16 that a talent manager also attended. The manager asked for a voiceover audition and the rest is, more or less, history.

Alternately, Paque said he had done voice-over work on a friend’s cartoon after college. Much later, a producer asked in an e-mail if he was still doing voice-over work–of course, Paque said he still was. Paque said at the start, he mostly did voices for background characters.

They also gave advice for college students interested in the business. Sands said that it’s important to be ready to say yes when the opportunity arises, and be willing to take chances. She said that it’s also important to have a sense of humor about the whole thing as well, as “We’re playing pretend!” Paque added that luck is important, but also that “luck is when preparation meets opportunity.” He recommended that would-be voice actors focus on preparation because that’s the only aspect of that equation that you control.

Connecticon XVII
Jake Paque, Tara Sands, and host Erin.

As in the David Sobolov conference, the topic of vocal care came up. Warm-ups, rest, and plenty of water were recommended. If you’re faced with a role that’s causing stress on your vocal cords, let your directors know! Shorter sessions are best. Paque also added that being conscious of your scheduling is very important, as well as your awareness of the world around you. He told us of going out to dinner with Sobolov earlier during the run of the convention and being unable to talk at all with him because shouting over the music in the venue simply would have been too much of a strain on both of their voices.

Sands and Paque were also asked if they liked having freedom with their characters. Sands said that she likes the restriction at times, but also likes working with other people to play off of them. Paque enjoys “doing stuff out of left field” and “going crazy with it.”

They also discussed auditions: Paque advised that no one ever bother auditioning with something they know they can’t do. Sands advised efficient work, as it will most likely lead to more work opportunities.

Sands also added that while “anime is more transparent,” videogames often use codenames for auditions and for the actual production process. Sometimes it’s possible to figure out what videogame it is from context clues, but sometimes it isn’t. Sands is often very excited when she finds what she was working on!

They were also asked about the audition versus hiring ratio. Sands said that auditions never really stop. The ratio used to be easier to figure out, but the pool for auditions has gotten much bigger than when she started out. She mentioned that when she began, when she went to audition, whoever else was at the audition too was your competition. Now, people have equipment at home that they can use for auditions and it’s harder to tell how many people you’re up against. Celebrities getting into voice acting has also made the pool larger.

Before time ran out, a member of the press managed to squeeze one last question in. Sands didn’t have time to answer whether or not she thought her voice had changed over time, but Pacque said that he would guess his voice has dropped a little. He admitted that he isn’t sure if it’s just a natural settling or if this change has happened because of use, though.

Connecticon XVII ran from July 12 through July 14 in Hartford, Connecticut. To learn more about Connecticon XVII and some of the other panels it hosted this year, keep on checking N3rdabl3 throughout the week!

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