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Anime NYC 2019: Sarah Natochenny talks Ash, Voice Acting (Interview)

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Sarah Natochenny reflected on her life-changing audition for the role of Pokémon’s Ash Ketchum to The Natural Aristocrat at Anime NYC 2019.

You never know when an audition thought to have gone rock bottom is actually the complete reverse and sends your career soaring high. Actress Sarah Natochenny told The Natural Aristocrat at Anime NYC 2019 about such an audition, one that largely defined her future, and most recently was influential in winning her the Voice Arts Award for Best Animation/Gaming Demo. The role of a lifetime… Pokémon’s lead character, Ash Ketchum.

Just when Natochenny thought all the chips were down, it turned out she was perfect for the job all along. Sarah Natochenny went on to describe the surreal, humbling feeling she gets when fans write that she brightened up their day, just by ‘liking’ their Instagram fan art.

Watch the full interview with Sarah Natochenny above or read the transcript below:


The Natural Aristocrat [Nir Regev]: How do you reflect back on the first day you got the role of Ash? What was that day like for you?

Sarah Natochenny: Actually, I don’t really remember that day. I remember the day I auditioned the first time and how I left that studio crying… Because I don’t think I’ve ever actually left the room feeling that bad about an audition since. I thought it went horribly. I sounded right, I guess? But I didn’t know how to dub.

They taught me how to do my job at my audition. So, that to me was a horrible audition. The fact they had to do that. But I guess in hindsight, the fact that they actually stayed with me and took the time to teach me and to see how I would respond to that kind of teaching… Which I guess I did fine! It’s a testament to the fact that they actually wanted to work with me.

Did you picture this role would end up largely defining your life for so many years?

Oh God! Yeah, Yeah.

You thought it would keep going from the beginning?

Yeah, I didn’t know if they would manage resurgences like they have. They’ve really done an amazing job! Pokémon Go really changed everything! I didn’t doubt that they would but I didn’t know what was possible because that’s not my business. I don’t look ahead and create technologies based on other amazing technologies. I’m an actor.

Do you get notes from Nintendo ever? Do they ever get involved?

Like notes, “On well on that episode?” like that? No. They keep to themselves. I’d welcome their notes, I just don’t have any notes. I’m all ears!

Do you read what fans say, both praise and criticism on voice acting? Does it impact you creatively when you’re back in the booth?

Impact mentally? That’s a very deep question. Less now. Unless I get a link to something and then I go down a deep hole, it’s usually not pleasant. The positive responses, especially now that I’m active on social media, I get so many positive notes. It’s amazing! That I read! That I love to read, when people who follow me, actively engage with me on the Internet.

I’ve taken screenshots, one recently I liked an image of some fan art on Instagram and they wrote a whole thing like, “I was having the worst day. And she liked my photo and I’m crying and it’s the most amazing thing! It’s exactly what I needed!” I’m just like, the fact that I have a power like that to make someone’s day…

As a voice actress, that started working really young… You know, there was the fantastic South Park voice actress, Mary Kay Bergman, who sadly took her own life when she thought she might be losing her talent. Do you ever worry about that? How do you protect your voice over the years?

I haven’t worried about it, yet. But I drink a lot of throat coat tea. I try not to scream a lot. I don’t go to loud bars or restaurants. If a restaurant is too loud, I’m the person who’s like, “Yeah, we’ve got to go.” Yeah, I’m fun! I try to protect my voice, reasonably but I’m not thinking about it a lot.

When I interviewed Funimation cast members, they spoke of how they typically don’t record together. I was wondering if for you it’s the same? I mean, you don’t have that partner to play off of. I know you studied at Lee Strasberg.

Yeah, it was definitely strange when I first started doing it. Like “What do you mean, I need other actors.” It varies now. I used to be the last to record, so that I would have everybody already in… But at this point I don’t even notice it. It’s really second nature to just imagine how everyone would sound. I feel like I know what Carter [Cathcart] and Team Rocket are going to do. I know what my partners-in-crime are going to do!

We do a few different takes, I trust my Director completely. So, if there are different reads to be done, we do them all. Then the Editor does everything else.

Do you listen to your own takes?

Sometimes, if I’m not sure about what what I did, I’m like, “Can I just hear that one more time?” Then I do it again.

I read you were in the Junior Olympics for Rhythmic Gymnastics and won a Bronze Medal. I was wondering did you ever want to go back to that?

Oh God no! No, no, no. I was 13 when I quit doing that and no, I never looked back. I’m very grateful for having had that because it showed me that you could be not very good at something, practice really hard, and lose your whole childhood…. And then get really good at it! So, that was a great lesson to learn but once I quit, I was like, “Thank you goodbye.” I will be an actor now.

What does it mean to you to get nominated for Voice Arts Award for Best Animation/Gaming Demo? Did you call your parents?

Yeah, my mom is right over there! (she really was) I’m very excited! It’s going to be great. Just to be nominated is amazing!

[Sarah Natochenny went on to win the Voice Arts Award for Best Animation/Gaming Demo]

Thanks Sarah!

Thank you!

Follow Sarah Natochenny on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and her official website. Be sure to periodically check Anime NYC’s official website for the latest updates on Sarah Natochenny potentially returning for Anime NYC 2020!

Check out The Natural Aristocrat’s Anime NYC 2019 interview with Lisa Ortiz, voice of many of your favorite Pokémon characters, and one of Sarah Natochenny’s best pals in the recording booth!

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Anime Interviews

Todd Haberkorn: “Fear and Hope come from the same place”

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Photo Credit: Todd Haberkorn
Photo Credit: Todd Haberkorn

Seasoned voice actor Todd Haberkorn discussed Fear and Hope coming from the same place at heart because they deal with worry for that which hasn’t happened yet.

Voice acting veteran Todd Haberkorn [SAO/Dragon Ball Super] reflected on how he doesn’t hope for roles or expectations in the entertainment industry during an Anime NYC 2019 interview. That at its core, hope is not all that different from fear, they both deal with the unknown of the future and cause stress.

Similar to The Natural Aristocrat’s interview with actor Rodrigo Santoro who commented, “You know I try not to raise expectations in anything because I think that leads to frustration. We idealize things and then you know… I just try to do the best I can in my work and my life in general,” Haberkorn has a similar outlook on the voice acting industry. “I would like it but I’m not going to hope for it. So that when I get it, it’s an awesome surprise.”

Todd Haberkorn comments on Fear and Hope:

“As a book that I’m reading says, Fear and Hope come from the same place. Think about it. Fear and Hope are dealing with things that haven’t happened yet in the future. They both are just a source of stress. So I try to be like, “Okay, I don’t want stress, so I’m not going to hope for it. I would like it but I’m not going to hope for it. So that when I get it, it’s an awesome surprise. And if I don’t get it, I’m like “Oh, okay.”

Full Interview Details

Be sure to check out The Natural Aristocrat’s complete Anime NYC 2019 interview with Todd Haberkorn where he goes in-depth about the balance between art and the business of voice acting, Sword Art Online, D.Gray-man, Dragon Ball Super, the entertainment industry as the wild west, and much more!

Todd Haberkorn on Social Media:

Follow Todd Haberkorn on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and his official website. A complete listing of his roles is available on BehindtheVoiceActors.com and IMDB.

Keep up to date with featured guests at next year’s Anime NYC at AnimeNYC.com, tickets for Anime NYC 2020 are officially on sale now!

More Anime coverage is available in The Natural Aristocrat’s Anime Category section and over on Live Game Deals’ Anime Category Section.

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Anime Interviews

Todd Haberkorn: ‘D.Gray-man bet led to getting my ears pierced’

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Anime NYC 2019 Interview - Pictured: Todd Haberkorn on left, D.Gray-man's Allen Walker on right - Photo and Art Credit: Todd Haberkorn / Funimation
Photo and Art Credit: Todd Haberkorn / Funimation

D.Gray-man’s Todd Haberkorn, voice of Allen Walker, told an entertaining story at Anime NYC 2019 about how the show’s return led to him making good on a bet to get his ears pierced.

D.Gray-man’s English Dub voice actor Todd Haberkorn (Allen Walker/Millennium Earl) reflected on how he was so certain D.Gray-man wouldn’t return after ten years he made a public bet. If the series returned, he’d get his ears pierced… Two months later after that bet was made during a convention panel Q & A, Haberkorn received a Tweet congratulating him about D.Gray-man! As such, Haberkorn proved to be a man of his word and made good on his bet. Actually getting his ears pierced. Just goes to show, you never know what’ll happen in the Entertainment Industry.

Be sure to check out The Natural Aristocrat’s full Anime NYC 2019 interview with Todd Haberkorn where he goes in-depth about the balance between art and the business of voice acting, Sword Art Online, and much more!

Todd Haberkorn comments on D.Gray-man Bet:

“Another example is D.Gray-man. Sh*t, I didn’t know that 10 years later we would come back to that show. I thought for surrrre we wouldn’t. That’s why I made the bet about piercing my ears cause I’m like I guarantee you we’re not doing D.Gray-man. Earlier in that day I’d seen a guy with pierced ears that looked cool, and so it stuck in my head. And so when someone asked about D.Gray-man and I was like that show comes back I’ll pierce my ears because I thought she’d been 10 years.

Two months later! I get a tweet from a fan, he’s like congratulations on D.Gray-man. And I’m like, “Wait a minute….” I went and got my ears pierced, and I made good on the bet. But so who knows? I have no idea what’s going to happen.”

Todd Haberkorn on Social Media:

Follow Todd Haberkorn on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and his official website. A complete listing of his roles is available on BehindtheVoiceActors.com and IMDB.

Be sure to keep up to date with featured guests at next year’s Anime NYC at AnimeNYC.com, tickets for Anime NYC 2020 are on sale now!

More Anime coverage is available in The Natural Aristocrat’s Anime Category section and over on Live Game Deals’ Anime Category Section.

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Anime Interviews

Watch: SAO’s Todd Haberkorn calls Cherami Leigh live, records voicemail

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Anime NYC 2019 Interview - Pictured: Sword Art Online's Todd Haberkorn on left, Cherami Leigh on right - Photo Credit: Todd Haberkorn / Paul Smith Photography
Photo Credit: Todd Haberkorn / Paul Smith Photography

Sword Art Online’s Todd Haberkorn went into pseudo Sugou/Oberon mode when he recorded a humorous voicemail live to Asuna voice actor Cherami Leigh during an interview at Anime NYC 2019!

SAO English Dub voice actor Todd Haberkorn subtly channeled Sugou Nobuyuki / Oberon when he recorded a live voicemail to Asuna herself, Cherami Leigh, inviting her to dinner. Haberkorn joked, “Deal? If it’s a deal, say nothing… Perfect!” drawing laughs from everyone in the room at Anime NYC 2019. One remarked, “I’m going to use that!”

The moment arrived during The Natural Aristocrat’s full interview with Todd Haberkorn when asked if he recorded his Sword Art Online scenes in the studio with Cherami there. Haberkorn mentioned that Anime/Dub voice actors rarely have that partner to play off of for a variety of reasons. Then in the spur of the moment, Haberkorn decided to ring up Cherami in classic fashion!

Todd Haberkorn comments on SAO co-star Cherami Leigh:

“Unfortunately, I don’t get to see Cherami (Leigh) as much as people think we hang out. Even though we are kind of neighbors, like we don’t live that far from each other. Actually, you know what? Thank you for bringing that up. I’m actually going to send her a Marco Polo right now. [takes out cellphone, dials on speaker phone to leave voicemail]

Hey Cherami, we’re sitting here and I’m hanging out with some folks and doing a lot of interview action. We were just talking about you, how amazing you are, how fantastic you are behind the mic, and how that we don’t get to hang out very much even though we kind of live next to each other… So, let’s do this! December, we have to get together and have dinner. Deal? If it’s a deal, say nothing… Perfect! Okay. December. So, she’ll get that message and she’ll let me see know what she thinks.”

Todd Haberkorn on Social Media:

Follow Todd Haberkorn on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and his official website. A complete listing of his roles is available on BehindtheVoiceActors.com and IMDB.

Be sure to keep up to date with featured guests at next year’s Anime NYC at AnimeNYC.com, tickets for Anime NYC 2020 are on sale now!

Check out The Natural Aristocrat’s recent coverage of singer Eir Aoi’s Zepp Osaka Bayside gig, the voice of some of SAO’s most recognizable opening and closing themes.

More Anime coverage is available in The Natural Aristocrat’s Anime Category section and over on Live Game Deals’ Anime Category Section.

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