I had the amazing opportunity to chat with David Sobolov (voice of Gorilla Grodd in CW’s “The Flash,” Disney XD’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” cartoon, and Lobo in DC’s “Injustice: Gods Among Us,” among other roles) about equality in geek culture, and his career. David also provided some advice to those who want to be a part of the voiceover industry.
Why did you get involved in the industry and what is your motivation to stay?
I became involved in voice acting around 1995 after I had been working professionally in theatre for several years and touring with an a cappella singing group. I was recommended to a voice acting agent who felt that I might do well as a deep voiced villain in animation and that seemed to be a good fit.
What is your advice for those who want to get involved in the industry? What is/was your favorite project to work on?
Learn your craft… it’s so much about creating a ‘voice’ as it’s about learning how to act truthfully under given imaginary circumstances. The funny (or in my case intimidating) voice you add to the character is just icing on the cake. In regard to picking a favorite project I always answer this way… I love all my children equally. 🙂
What was your most daunting project?
The extremely vocally stressful projects are always the most difficult. I lost my voice almost completely for six months following work on Call of Duty Modern Warfare. That experience reminded me to only offer to do a role I can deliver without stressing my voice to the point where it can’t easily recover.
As someone who has worked in the industry for two decades, do you think that it has become easier for voice actors to find work or is it…more difficult because one actor can do more work?
I think it’s much harder for a voice actor to find work these days. The major studio level / union character voice acting work for animation, television and films is based mostly in Los Angeles, but with online submissions, the casting people sometimes receive hundreds of submissions per role.
What are your thoughts on the equality, respect, and promotion of women in animation and video games?
I think we have a long way to go before women are portrayed equally to men in video games but I’ve seen some progress in the last 10 years. Games are still being produced where women are demeaned. I enjoy seeing strong female characters and I’d like to see more of them. Often times there are five strong male characters in a script for every one strong woman.
Since The Geek Initiative is all about celebrating women in geek culture, were there any strong female role models you had growing up? Do you have any now?
As I was growing up, I always admired United Press International’s White House reporter Helen Thomas. She was never afraid to ask the tough questions. My favorite example of a strong woman these days is Senator Elizabeth Warren who is also unafraid of asking the tough questions!
Did you always want to be a voiceover artist?
Before I was a voice actor, I toured with an a cappella quartet and worked in pit orchestras playing French Horn. I studied acting with Sanford Meisner, and performed new plays with the Roundabout Theatre’s New Play Centre in NYC. Voice acting was eventually the kind of work in the arts that was the best fit for me to make a stable living with, so it made sense to pursue it.
Are you a Marvel fan or DC fan? Why?
Both of course! I work on great shows with both companies.
If you could sum up your career thus far with a movie quote, what would it be?
“Second star to the right and straight on ’til morning.”
*Disclaimer: Interviewer has no material connection to the person or works mentioned in this piece*