Sophomore psychology major Sean-Ryan Petersen is a full-time student and professional voice actor. He recently landed a role as Valentino, the half-brother of Victor in the Cartoon Network animated series “Victor and Valentino.” Last week, I got to ask him about his experiences as a voice actor and what advice he may have to offer others also pursuing a career in the arts.
Sammi Su (S.S.): I heard that you’ve recently landed a role in “Victor and Valentino.” Could you introduce us to your character?
Sean-Ryan Petersen (S.P.): Valentino is the half-brother of Victor. It’s a running joke in the studio how similar we are. Every episode, the writing gets a little more meshed with my humor ... The creator [of the show] plays Victor, and we’re always finding out about new stuff about each other.
S.S.: How did you get started in the industry?
S.P.: It was about 11 years ago. I was watching the Saturday morning cartoons, and I told my mom that I wanted to be a voice actor ... I got into the industry in my first year; I got a dub project for PBS called “Dive Olly Dive!” From there, I got a web series about Martha Stewart’s childhood, and I played her guy best friend named Kevin ... I got into the industry with the intent of being a voice actor, hopefully one day working for Cartoon Network as I do now.
S.S.: What’s the most exciting thing that you’ve experienced as a voice actor?
S.P.: Getting the [role of Valentino] for sure. It was a very abnormal, quick process by comparison to most main character castings … but besides that, it was [surreal to hear] that my 10-year goal … [of] working for the network [that] I’ve always wanted to work for on a new and original show that looked and seemed incredible … I don’t really know how to describe the feeling. I always felt happy randomly for the next two weeks … and it always brought a smile to my face whenever I [thought ]about it.
SS: What is the biggest challenge that you’ve faced in your time as a voice actor?
S.P.: You’re going to hear “no” a lot and that’s fine — that’s just how this industry is. You can’t get every job you audition for ... The biggest challenge is just making sure you know that … [and] are able to move past that. [If] you let every single time you’re told, "Oh sorry, we want a different direction," bog you down, you’re not going to be ready [when] that perfect role for you comes along.
SS: What is it like balancing schoolwork while playing such a major role in the show?
S.P.: It’s a delicate balance, but the good news is we work once a week, usually. I just have to make sure when I’m scheduling classes to not have anything on a Tuesday. Other than that, a lot of audition preparation … I actually manage [the schoolwork] very well I think.
S.S.: Do you have advice for aspiring voice actors?
S.P.: Always be willing to learn, but I think that applies to most industries. Specifically for this one, always be doing something, [whether it’s] going to a class [to expand your vocal range], watching TV, playing games or watching anime [to learn] voices and that’s how you get cast. You need to be diverse and you need to be able to play any range of characters from a dragon that has the voice of a mouse to a mouse that sounds like a dragon.
“Victor and Valentino” is available to watch for free on www.cartoonnetwork.com/video/victor-and-valentino/. The show will return to finish its second season in March, so stay tuned.