Cartoon Network’s newest animated series, “Steven Universe,” has gained a lot of popularity not only for its’ unique storytelling and characters, but also the talented cast of actors that work behind-the-scenes on the series. Recently, Dennis got to sit down with Zach Callison, the voice of Steven Universe, to talk about working on the series, and a little bit about his career in acting.
Dennis: What got you interested in acting?
Zach: When I was seven years old, I was living in St. Louis, MO, and I started with singing, which has come full circle with shows like “Steven Universe.” I was taking singing lessons at a community college, but my parents wanted me to get a chance to perform in front of an audience, so I ended up auditioning for the play at the college, which was “The Music Man,” and got the role of Winthrop. Theater was where I started, I found a home in it, and I did a lot of plays in St. Louis. I eventually moved on and started doing some film and TV commercials, but work like that was scarce where I was living, so my family eventually ended up moving to Los Angeles in 2007.
Dennis: How do you balance your acting career with having a normal life as a teenager?
Zach: There are a lot of sacrifices that have to be made. One being I don’t go to a traditional school. I do all my schoolwork at home, on the set, or whenever I have time. As far as friends go, I managed to get a pretty good circle of friends just from living at the apartment I live at, which is still a well-known hub for young actors. You can only fit so much into the day, but it all balances out in the end.
Dennis: You play the title character of Steven in the all-new “Steven Universe.” What was it like auditioning for the series and what do you think of the character.
Zach: I think one of the reasons that my audition stood out was because I had fun while auditioning. I saw a picture of Steven before I auditioned and I saw this chubby, nerdy looking kid, and I asked myself, “What could I do to make this character come alive?” I worked with my voiceover coach in the booth, and we decided to do some wacky and zany takes, which we eventually used when we sent over the audition.
The reason I like Steven is because he is really high energy and goofy, but he also has a lot of heart. The whole show has heart, and it’s not afraid to be emotional and have strong story, even though it’s a goofy animated show, and it has a strong balance of both.
Dennis: What is it like working with your fellow cast members on the show, including musician Estelle?
Zach: The show has an incredible cast. Usually, I’m in the booth with Michaela Dietz (Amethyst), Deedee Magno (Pearl), and Estelle (Garnet) usually travels a lot, but she still gets in the studio occasionally, and it’s a lot of fun because a lot of shows don’t do ensemble records and I really like that because it allows you to play off of each other, which is always fun. The supporting cast is also really talented, and there are so many fun people to work with on the show.
Dennis: Are there any cool things the audience should look out for in future episodes of “Steven Universe?”
Zach: There are a lot of cool supporting characters that are returning and a few new ones that are debuting as well. There are some episodes coming up that are sure to excite the fanbase because they focus around events involving all the main characters. We’re pretty much wrapped up with season one, and I technically think we’re working on season two episodes now, and there are a lot of cool storylines coming up next season.
Dennis: Do you have any advice for those that want to pursue a career in acting like you?
Zach: You have to always be working on your technique because if you’re not getting better, you’re not going to go anywhere. You also have to have a passion for it because if you go into acting just to make money, you’re probably not going to go anywhere. Above all else, the most important thing I try to stress is no matter how much fame and popularity you may achieve, you have to be humble.
You can watch Steven Universe every Monday night at 8 PM EST on Cartoon Network.