Hey Reddit!

We are voice over actors; full time, award winning audiobook narrators; voiceover coaches; and co-founders of a new company producing short form audio romance/erotica.We have over 30 years of combined experience and dozens of accolades. Ask Us Anything!

Emily Woo Zeller: Named a Golden Voice and a Best Voice of 2019, 2018, 2015, and 2013 by Audiofile Magazine, Emily Woo Zeller has garnered awards including an Audie, Best Female Narrator from the Independent Audiobook Awards; multiple SOVAS awards, and almost two dozen Earphones Awards. Her voice has most recently been heard in video games as Panam in Cyberpunk 2077 and in The Last of Us Part 2, She has also dubbed for dozens of anime series. She recently appeared as Doctor Aphra in the Star Wars audio drama, and as the narrator in PASSABLE IN PINK. www.emilywoozeller.com

Gabra Zackman: Gabra is an award winning audiobook narrator, coach, teacher, director, writer, producer and actress. She has been seen off Broadway and on stages around the country, a bit of TV and film, and makes her living in audio. She's the published author of The Bod Squad Series (Simon and Schuster's Pocket Books 2016) and Nice and Naughty (Love Bytes Originals 2021). She likes to call herself a multi-disciplinary storyteller, and has created a beautiful tapestry of a career. www.gabrazackman.com

Love Bytes Originals: LBO is a new company started by Emily and Gabra that produces short form audio romance and erotica. The first series they've created, Nice and Naughty Season 1, takes place in Queens, NY. Their stories are filled with Heart, Heat and Humor and are as colorful as the setting: sexually, spiritually, and ethnically diverse relationships with both sweetness and snark. Some delightful recipes strewn throughout also tie the stories together with some double entendre. There are several more series in the pipeline, expanding on this world and opening doors into many more. Nice and Naughty Season 1 is currently available anywhere you buy audiobooks. www.lovebytesoriginals.com

Here's my proof: [Emily Woo Zeller](www.instagram.com/zwooman) [Gabra Zackman] (Www.instagram.com/audiobookgoddess)

Thanks so much for your thoughtful questions and support, everyone! We had a great time. Our live AMA is now finished.

Comments: 171 • Responses: 68  • Date: 

Putinovich45 karma

Hi Emily! Panam is my favorite character in Cyberpunk 2077 and I sincerely hope we see more of her in a future expansion for the game. My question to you - when voicing a character, do you find yourself picking up bits of their accent or "adopting" their pronunciation for certain words? How hard is it to switch between manners of speaking?

And another for both you and Zabra - how does one manage to sound believable when acting out a very heated argument scene? One that is full of anger and yelling. Case in point, Panam yelling at Saul in the game.

EmilyWooZeller_voice36 karma

Hey! That's a great question. At this point, I'm generally pretty good about keeping the work in the work space. Sometimes emotional reverberations will stick, though. Or the best is feeling really good because I got to scream for an hour and channel any rage!

And this actually leads into your other question. The basic answer I would say is that you're acting. Your job is to find truth and connect to the character and what's happening in the scene and to channel that. I bet Gabra has some good things to say about that, too. I'll let her chime in. EWZ

EmilyWooZeller_voice19 karma

Oh this is such a good question! It's hard to do. We get to know the space pretty well, and are good at using closeness to enhance intimacy, and placing our bodies further back to give more space for a heated scene. That said, it's a tough one, because if you really are emotional, it's hard to tamp down on your emotions. The language we use is "oh no, did I peak?" or "did it clip?" which means we were a bit too loud for the equipment. Every once in a while I've had someone say "FARTHER AWAY FROM THE MIC GABRA!" over and over again until we get it right. But also I find that heat works best in a more intimate way with the mic anyway-- there's a kind of simmering anger that a booth really captures. GZ

Ihateporn202029 karma

Emily! I love your work as Panam. You brought her to life for me and so many people and there's clearly a lot of love for her/your take on her. Seriously. Forbes wrote about how she's the best npc in our generation. I made a 34 minute video essay on how important and memorable her character is!


I was actually hoping to ask a more general question. What voice acting work is closest to your heart and which do you look at most fondly?

Also, I know you've lived in a few different places in the world. Is there any place, either that you've lived in before or would like to live that you think is a great place to settle and why?

EmilyWooZeller_voice14 karma

Thanks so much! I'll have to check out your video essay.

It's hard to pick a favorite. It's like trying to pick a favorite child! They're all different and wonderful in their own ways. I love how big I can go with video games, I love how creative and hilarious animation can be, and I love how intimate audiobooks are and that I get to play all the characters.

I'd say the same with different places in the world. I think there's a lot more consciousness now about the legacies of colonialism and what it means to have the privilege to move and be in different places, too, and that's a factor I also consider. Short answer is everyone is different. No place is perfect. Everywhere has its pros and cons For me, it's about what place you can have access to, thrive in, and contribute to the community there. EWZ

Kazuliski17 karma

Hi Emily, love your work as Panam!

I’ve listened to some of your audiobooks and was wondering what advice / tips would you give to those wanting to narrate their own content?

What recording equipment do you use at home?

Your favourite Panam line from Cyberpunk 2077?

What do you think is the most challenging aspect of being a VA?

Many thanks! Kazuliski

EmilyWooZeller_voice13 karma

Thank you so much! The best advice I can give for those wanting to narrate their own content is to get some coaching, especially if you aren't already a trained actor. The skills required for narration are very specific and even if you're already an actor, and even if you've got some voiceover experience, that doesn't necessarily mean you're ready to do narration voiceover. I use Protools, (Gabra uses Reaper), Scarlett Focusrite, and a Rode mic. It's hard to pick a favorite line! But one of my favorite scenes was at the bar. The most challenging aspect of being a voice actor is probably maintaining the health of my voice and body. It requires constant vigilance. Thanks for the great questions. EWZ

Ihateporn20203 karma

Hopefully it isn't distracting to reply to these. I like this question. I've had difficulties with narration thus far and am looking to improve. I'm fairly new to it and need to get to the point where I dont sound like I'm reading off a page :( .

EmilyWooZeller_voice10 karma

Totally makes sense! I always tell people when I coach that it takes a while NOT to sound that way, but that it's normal, with anything worthwhile, for it to take some time to learn. Here's a good exercise: read a page or so of a book or article just as you would, then tell as much as you can remember as a story to a friend, a family member etc. Then try to read it again. I think if you can start to frame it as story telling, authentic to you and your own voice, rather than narration, that's a great way to begin. GZ

Ihateporn20204 karma

Gotcha! I'll try that trick for my next video. Thank you Gabra!

EmilyWooZeller_voice5 karma


kvillanz112412 karma

Thanks for doing this, you two! My question is for Emily.

1) Were you shown any Panam art/models prior to recording your dialogue? And if so, was there any influence on how you approached the character; such as delivering a certain cadence to lines?

2) As an Asian-American talent, what sort of stories, themes, or messages would you like to see popularized or at least given more attention to through the world of voice recording/narration?

EmilyWooZeller_voice22 karma

1 - I was shown some preliminary art, yes, but not what she ultimately looked like. That had almost nothing to do with how I approached her character. The only thing that really informed me from the image was that she was clearly dressed to always be ready to go or work on machinery. 2 - Excellent question. Often with stories featuring minority characters, it's about the fact that they're a minority. What I would like to see more is full, complicated characters that are also female or Asian or Black or LatinX or American Indian or or or, etc. That yes, the trials and tribulations are real that relate to our experiences as minorities (or just people with less power, ie.women...technically a majority, but...), but that those identities are not the entirety of us as human beings. That was a long answer. The short answer is we just need more representation, period. EWZ

kvillanz11243 karma

Appreciate the response! And congrats on both of your successes so far! Wish nothing but the best for y'all!

EmilyWooZeller_voice4 karma

this is a kick ass community. THANK YOU!!! GZ

Seataxi7 karma

Have either of you had any potential work offers you simply had to turn down because it was out of your comfort zone? Why was that?

EmilyWooZeller_voice21 karma

This is a fantastic question-- we both love and appreciate it. I can answer this a few different ways. I have - and will continue to - turn down any work that features violence against women in a fetishistic way. Ditto anything that offends me personally: any material that is racist, homophobic, or adheres to political beliefs in a way that compromises my own integrity. I have also turned down work offers because the ethnicity of the narrator was not my own, and I didn't want to take away work from another narrator or read something inauthentically when someone else could do it the right way. In addition, I've turned down stuff I found wildly offensive in all kinds of ways. GZ

V8_Only4 karma

Is Panam Asian?

EmilyWooZeller_voice12 karma

I believe so, at least partly. I honestly don't remember given anything very specific with regard to her ethnicity, except that she's obviously pretty mixed and has brown skin. EWZ

The66Ripper7 karma

Hello to both of you - I'm an audio engineer who work with a few SAG-AFTRA vocal contractors (primarily opera singers, but a few VO folks as well) and I'm curious what changes you experienced over the pandemic with recording protocol and feedback from producers?

We had quite a few instances on the last Call of Duty game where parts needed to be re-recorded 3-4 times because the choir wasn't able to be in the same room, leading to various issues along the way. Was it similar for you in which not having other VO actors to bounce your energy off of made the process harder, or were you able to dial in even more and focus on just your part?

EmilyWooZeller_voice3 karma

Heya. I'll let Gabra talk about how things changed (or didn't) for books. What I'll say for video game work is that I haven't had any issues. My technical setup is pretty good because I've been working from home for books for years. And when I have gone in studio for games or animation, it's usually on my own anyway. We don't usually have everyone in the scene working at the same time. It's one of the big challenges of doing voiceover acting - we often don't get that real time interaction. But that's something you get better at doing. That said, for sound, I know different actors in different rooms with different set ups and different skill levels with technology can be an issue, for sure. EWZ

The66Ripper3 karma

Thanks for the insight! I would have assumed that there is some interaction in the studio, but makes sense now that I think about it.

EmilyWooZeller_voice3 karma

I can answer this from an even different perspective as i have been co-producing and directing a series of Shakespeare plays with everyone working from different studios and home studios, and me reading with all of them! Bit a bit of a hard task, and I sure don't envy the back end who have to QC the whole thing and add a full soundscape.

Other than that, I've recorded from home a lot so that's pretty normal for me-- I sure miss being in studios though!

And for you: totally admire what you do. Couldn't do any of this without you. GZ

NightlyXO6 karma

Hey Emily and Gabra!

I understand that voice acting can be exhausting, especially when you have to record so many lines while making sure the intonation and such is delivered correctly.

My question is: are there any rituals you have to prepare and help you get through long sessions or when you lose your voice?

P.S. I absolutely love Panam's character and you did an amazing job in bringing her to life with the voice acting!

EmilyWooZeller_voice8 karma

Hey! Thanks so much! Yes, there absolutely are lots of rituals to help. It's all about taking care of the body. That means exercise, sleep, hydration, proper diet, and emotional and mental health. Building endurance and also knowing when to take breaks are equally important. During a session, there are also specific techniques to employ with breath support and vocal control that help mitigate damage to the vocal chords. As for what each individual's specific needs and rituals look like, that is entirely different depending on the person. For me, I have to get at least 8 hrs of sleep, I need quiet space on my downtime, I drink tons of water, I eat tons of veggies, I don't drink much, I don't smoke, and I have to exercise every day. EWZ

surfrocksatan6 karma

Hi Emily and Gabra!

Emily, thank you for bringing our favorite Nomad to life! I know you've said in interviews that you have a passion for dance and music, so just wondering if you have any favorite tracks off of the Cyberpunk 2077 soundtrack? Or do you have any current or ongoing favorite tracks in general that you are listening to right now? Thanks again!

EmilyWooZeller_voice5 karma

Heya! I am constantly listening to music. Of all genres. I've been really digging Teddy Swims' cover of Blinding Lights by The Weeknd and also listening to Jhené Aiko and Daniel Caesar and Parra for Cuva, but this is by far not a comprehensive list. Cheers. EWZ

Daltana6 karma

Oh! Emily, I loved you as Dr Aphra! You really brought that story to life!

To either of you, how much give and take is there in interpretation of your voices in a role? Do you find it's mostly dictated by the director or do you get more free reign to bring out the voice you feel is right for the character?

EmilyWooZeller_voice8 karma

Hey! Thanks so much! This is a good question. Storytelling is usually a collaborative process, unless you're the writer and director and actor and producer and and etc. Everybody works together. In my house, there's no room for ego. Yes, I was the person doing the on stage or in front of the mic performance, and yes, I did what I thought was the most true for whichever character, but that was something that was garnered from the writing and that the director and I agreed on. EWZ

Dominik_T_6665 karma

Hello Emily and Gabra,

Firstly Big-Ups for your work on Panam Emily! Her attitude is amazing, she is so inspirational and sexy. I truly developed some relationship with her, she is so cool! Voice you gave to her fit just perfectly, it's so playful and emotional. I am sure it was a team effort and it's for the best, I love it!

I would like to ask, if you played through the whole game and your thoughts on it? ( besides that we all know that Panam is amazing :D ) Also what is your favorite interaction between V and Panam? And lastly, I am curious, who you voice in The Last of Us: Part 2?

Thanks for your Work and Talent!

Raising glass to Haboobs Choomba. :)

EmilyWooZeller_voice4 karma

I haven't been able to play the game yet. My favorite thing about them is now deep their connection is, even when it's not romantic. So I can't really point to one interaction. In The Last of Us: Part 2, I was several different minor, unnamed people throughout the game. Cheers! EWZ

KingHanji5 karma

How was your experience on set? Did you get to meet any of the other cast?

EmilyWooZeller_voice6 karma

I didn't get to interact much in person with the other actors, but the studio I recorded at was awesome and the primary director I worked with, Pierce O'Toole, was phenomenal! EWZ

kyzeuske5 karma

How does someone start getting into voice acting? What was the experience like for you two starting out?

EmilyWooZeller_voice12 karma

Fab question and I'm so glad you asked this one! I've had the luck of being in the audiobook world for almost 20 years now (EGADS!) and I've watched the business totally morph and change in that time, in addition to watching how the ways to "break in" have changed. So here's a bit of info from then till now. Nearly 20 years ago the door was opened for me by rockstar narrator and Star Wars vo icon Jonathan Davis- we did a play together and he loved my voice so he introduced me to a company he worked for (yes, lucky AF I know). It was non-commercial recording for the National Library Service for the Blind, and I learned so much and began a full career in that wonderful place (now closed). But here's tip number 1: often times the non-commercial, non-union venues are the way to begin. Maybe you have a friend who needs a VO for his or her company? Maybe you know someone making a film who needs a VO? great way to get your feet wet and begin to build a reel, or have examples online you can send to potential employers.

Most important: this business is about connections, so kindness and graciousness to everyone you meet is also helpful. One of my biggest audiobook contacts came from - yes - meeting a producer AT A DEAR FRIEND'S WEDDING!!! He worked for one of the biggest companies, and I had only worked non-commercially at that point, maybe a bit commercially, but not much. We had a lovely time at the wedding and I reached out to him after- my friends were very instrumental- and I kindly asked if it was ok to send my samples. They are now one of my biggest employers to date.

Lastly: this world is like the wild west!! make your own fate. go online, see what you love, make something yourself and try to connect with other people in that particular VO genre through online groups, coaching, listening to their content, etc. You'd be surprised how people respect you when you respect their work. GZ

Sideways_X14 karma

Thank you so much for sharing this! I've had a few people I play games with online say they find my voice comforting so I thought this would be a really cool way to put it to use. Plus, I love making people feel more comfortable or relaxed.

Does this mean you've primarily acted as your own agent?

EmilyWooZeller_voice4 karma


And yes, I've been my own agent for VO work (primarily audiobooks) for nearly 20 years now, but again I was lucky to meet a lot of producers in different ways right from the beginning. GZ

EmilyWooZeller_voice3 karma

I have an agent for game, animation, and commercial work. Audiobook work I've done without an agent.

Good luck! EWZ

Asahi_Bushi4 karma

A question for Emily:

V gets to know different sides of Panam: for instance, they get to know her furious side when she shouts at Saul to shut the fuck up from the top of her lungs (which, by the way, is the moment I fell in love with her: it felt so real!) but they can also meet Panam's most vulnerable side when they talk before attacking the convoy, and her trusting, affectionate side when they have sex inside the tank. And all of this in the space of a few couple of quests!

My question: how did it feel playing a character with such contrasting moods and what do you think that says about Panam?

PS: Thank you for bringing to life one of my favorite characters of all time. Panam is as badass as she is sweet and it was all possible thanks to your voice talent.

EmilyWooZeller_voice15 karma

It was so satisfying to play a character that shows a full range of emotions. I think it says she's human. We all contain multitudes. What makes her special is the way it all comes out. She's like a pressure keg, haha. Thanks so much for your love. I love her, too! EWZ

Asahi_Bushi2 karma

Thanks so much for your reply, it's great to have your insight on the character! Best of luck with LoveBytesOriginals!

EmilyWooZeller_voice2 karma

Thank you so much! We so appreciate the support! GZ

EmilyWooZeller_voice4 karma

We'll be starting at 12pm Pacific/3pm Eastern! EWZ

EmilyWooZeller_voice4 karma

Can't wait! GZ

Loostreaks4 karma

On a stud scale: River or Johnny?

EmilyWooZeller_voice10 karma

River. EWZ

MrAnthem1234 karma

What do you think of only non-white voice actors being able to voice non-white characters? Personally, I feel that voice acting allows an actor to transcend their physical appearance to portray characters they otherwise normally wouldn’t be able to in something live action.

EmilyWooZeller_voice8 karma

What a great question. This is a really important conversation. For all of American history, white characters have written, played, and benefitted from non-white characters. That is too long for non-white characters' voices to have been not heard or inauthentically portrayed. Part of the issue is that the majority of stories told has also only featured white people, and only a certain kind of white person at that. White creators have always had access to portraying everyone. Non-white creators have had extremely limited access to even portraying themselves. There has therefore been a huge imbalance in opportunities for non-white creators. That seems to be, thankfully, changing, albeit slowly. But this is an imbalance that still needs to be corrected. More stories need to be told by non-white creators and represented by non-white creators. We would love to see a world where there was true equity and everyone could play anyone within their skillset and knowledge, but that's not the world we live in right now. We are glad to be in a moment in the world where we are respecting storytelling and who tells those stories in a way that we haven't in the past. And voiceover is a critical part of that, even without a direct visual to the actor in any given project. Yes, voice acting does allow us to transcend our physical appearance all the time, constantly. But voice acting and actors do not exist in a vacuum; it is a powerful channel for storytelling and has an important part to play in supporting these voices in being heard. Also, culture goes deeper than skin color. This is partly why putting on black makeup does not make a person "black". We're glad that more people are having these conversations. Cheers. EWZ

EmilyWooZeller_voice5 karma

Just want to say that Emily and I have these conversations all the time, and believe it is vital to be doing so. As a white actor and VO, I have benefited all my life by being called a "universal" voice or aspirational voice. When I first began recording audiobooks it was dominated by older white men, and was a very closed community. I am thrilled the business has begun to change, that the desire on the part of listeners and producers is authenticity of voice and background, rather than some whitewashed version of the world. Also, I still get plenty of work, and in the books I read (which have white protagonists) I still get to voice both men and women, young and old, and plenty of characters of diverse background who are the best friends/ family members/ lovers of the lead characters. Diversity and authenticity in storytelling benefits every single one of us, and I'm grateful to finally be having the kinds of conversations my BIPOC and LGBTQ+ friends have been having all their lives. My own storytelling has become more compassionate, more full and more free when part of a larger patchwork of authentically told diverse stories. GZ

Zenphor33 karma

.. Can we ask you a question more than once? If so, I'mma try my luck!

Having very recently bitten the bullet and played the suicide ending for a Judy-romancing V, I found myself more moved/gutted than I thought I would be listening to Panam's holo message. We all know that what you see is what you get with Panam. More often than not, her kneejerk reaction seems to gravitate towards the more intense polarity of the emotional spectrum, in this case, frustration and anger that V didn't turn to the Aldecaldos for help.

I know that voicing a character comes from a script, seeking out their truth. But to bring out those intense emotions into your voice work, do you ever find yourself having to dip into your personal life experiences, or hypothetical scenarios, to elicit that vibe? Like thinking about what would happen if you lost a loved one, so you could get into that grieving headspace? Or is there a very clear divide between you as a voice actress and the character in every sense?

EmilyWooZeller_voice3 karma

That's a good question. I have a toolbox that I use to connect as deeply as I can to every character and sometimes that means connecting to personal experiences. Generally, some emotions are easier to access than others and come more naturally but with practice and using that toolbox, the range widens so that I don't have to dip as frequently into other, personal experiences and can just focus on embodying the character and scene in the moment. EWZ

carl_dr_19953 karma

Hi, Emily. I've been knowing you for 4 years when I discovered that you used to work with Animax Asia more than a decade ago. You were notably known to voice as Saber from Fate/stay night & Tazusa Sakurano from Ginban Kaleidoscope, in which that I both watched on TV when I was 12 years old.

So I've a few questions: Are you planning to return as an anime voice actress? Had you missed your colleagues in Animax Asia?

EmilyWooZeller_voice4 karma

Saber and Tazusa were some of my favorite characters to perform. I'm so pleased that you know them and watched those shows!!

I am actively working as a voice actor and I take whatever work I can book, which includes animation/anime.

I do miss my colleagues from my work in Hong Kong, but at this time I am not planning a return there to pick up work again with the production company. EWZ

Anodynum3 karma

Hi Emily! Hope you are well.

On the surface Panam seems like a straightforward character; hot-headed, impulsive, and even somewhat hostile. However, as you get to know her it's revealed she's far more nuanced and intricate than she first appears. She grapples with the struggles of leadership, has a genuine love for her friends, and a strong vision of where she believes her clan must progress. Panam is willing to sacrifice her own happiness for the betterment of her people.

I think you did a phenomenal job capturing the entire range of her complexities and contrasting her confident, confrontational presence with her subdued vulnerabilities.

How did you go about playing a character of such intense personality yet still maintain her subtleties and shades of complexity? Did you make a conscious effort to let certain emotions peak through or did it naturally manifest within your scenes?

Panam inspires me to stay true to my values, lead and love with passion, and to accept myself for all my flaws. How has Panam inspired you? Were you able to learn or grow from playing this character?

Thank you for your time!

EmilyWooZeller_voice4 karma

Hey! Thanks so much. I approached Panam as I would with any character. I wanted to perform her truths. I think the writing did a lot to give her the opportunity to show her complexities. I'm so glad Panam has inspired you. She's pretty badass. She felt very close to my heart and I can only hope to be as cool as she is when I grow up ;-) EWZ

wolvAUS3 karma

Hey Emily and Gabra,

Was being a voice actor something you always wanted to be as a child? What made you jump into the industry?

Also to Emily great work on Panam!

EmilyWooZeller_voice5 karma

Great Q! TBH no, I had no idea it existed! But I was always a real clown, and loved to play with voices. My interest for a long time was theater, and I actually have a graduate degree in Classical Acting (Shakespeare is my jam!). I fell into this because I was doing a Shakespeare play with rockstar audiobook narrator Jonathan Davis (of Star Wars Fame) and I realized it was another brilliant beautiful way to tell stories. I was so lucky it found me :) GZ

EmilyWooZeller_voice3 karma

Hey! Thanks so much! Yes, I wanted to do voice work every since I was a wee lass. But it wasn't the only thing I wanted to do, so I didn't pursue it with a single mind. I did pursue the performing arts, in dance, music, and theater, however, with an eye toward VO. I also always had an academic thread running, too, but this has been my entire life. Cheers, EWZ

Emotional-Pension6303 karma

Hello Emily! Your voicework with Panam was memorable and it was a shame that it seemed so short in the overall story of the game. I guess it's a testament to how well the character was brought to life. Hopefully we can see more of her in the future.

Was your voicework for her recorded years ago or was it fairly recent?

I wish you the best!

EmilyWooZeller_voice3 karma

We recorded all of her stuff fairly recently. Thanks! EWZ

Wolf6873 karma

Thanks for doing this guys! I have a couple questions for Emily.

  1. I loved Panam as a character in the game! You did an amazing job bringing her to life! Is there anything about her that we may have missed or not picked up on during our playthroughs?

  2. Would you be open to returning as Panam in a dlc or content update?

Thanks again for your time!

EmilyWooZeller_voice3 karma

Thanks so much! 1 - Some people have asked about her speech pattern, as she doesn't use contractions. People in the Badlands have no problem taking a little longer to say something because their lifestyle is so different, and being removed from Night City, they naturally would develop speech patterns that differ. 2 - I'd love to do more of her, if that becomes an option. At this time, I do not have any information regarding any DLC. EWZ

wolvAUS3 karma

I’ll ask another question 😃

If you could work in any other profession what would it be?

EmilyWooZeller_voice3 karma

LOVE THIS. I was just playing this game with a group of friends where we were asking all the questions... my answer was oceanographer but I think anthropologist is more on point. Which is kinda what storytellers are, anyway. GZ

EmilyWooZeller_voice3 karma

I actually took pre-med classes while I was in college and minored in Nutritional Sciences and have worked in a couple of hospitals doing administration work. I would probably work in something in the sciences, either with bodies (like physical therapy or kinesiology research) or with the environment (like conservation efforts). EWZ

urkldajrkl3 karma

I listen to a lot of audio books. The reader, makes a huge difference!

I've often wondered whether the reader read the entire book before recording. Do you do this?

When using several different "voices" for different characters, how do you go about selecting a voice and do you use any tricks to maintain consistency across the entire reading?

EmilyWooZeller_voice3 karma

Great questions. So glad you know how important the reader is!!

1: yes, we read the whole book before recording. But the only reason we do that is because we learned the hard way that we had to. All of us have a story of reading a book and getting to the end and the line "His italian accent was stronger now that he was a bit drunk" has made us dissolve into tears. You redo the dialogue of one character and you never do it again :) But truly, you need to know the landscape before you begin.

Voices are very specific to each narrator. I like to keep them as different as I can while keeping them as SUBTLE as I can (NOTE: not in my early work:) This is a huge part of the craft, and very hard to do. In terms of maintaining consistency, we will often mark voices and go back to make sure they sound the same. GZ

surfrocksatan3 karma

Gabra and Emily, as an aspiring screenwriter, I do wonder what differences there are between scripts for the screen, video games and audio narration in general - Do you get sides? Are script revisions still color coded like film/tv and does it still fall under WGA? I'm so curious about the process for creative work outside of film/tv and how it's presented to voice actors from auditions to recording.

Gabra, do you have any tips for someone trying to break into writing?

Thanks again to you both for taking the time to do this AMA!

EmilyWooZeller_voice4 karma

Fantastic questions and bravo to you for beginning this wonderful work!

Regarding differences in scripts: no, video games and audio narration don't get sides or color coding like film/tv, and we don't think they fall under WGA but I bet there's some murky in between there that we don't know about. We do sometimes get part of a script for auditions, though, that's similar.

Breaking into writing- here are a few tips: 1. write regularly. amass a body of work. 2. find a group for accountability, feedback, connections. My writers group has game changed EVERYTHING for me. 3. classes: there are some screenwriting teachers who are AMAZING and know all there is to know about the form. Be vigilant about reading their reviews, and don't break the bank paying for it. But it'll be helpful. 4. start small. look online for competitions, etc - in the non fiction writing world essays are the way to begin, and often that leads to memoir, in the fiction world there are a bunch of lit mags where you can send a short story, and in the screenwriting world there are shorts competitions that would give you an entry in.

Best of luck!!

surfrocksatan2 karma

Those are wonderful tips, many of which I had not thought of. I really appreciate the encouragement and well wishes, means the world. Thanks again!!

EmilyWooZeller_voice3 karma

oh I'm so glad! GZ

EmilyWooZeller_voice3 karma

For video games and animation, I'll get a script with my characters' scenes, but I won't get the entire script for the project. And the script is just lines. The director manages the transmission of information about what's happening and where. Auditions are done with sides. EWZ

Zinganza3 karma

Hello to you both! Thanks so much for taking the time to do this :)

How do you both take care of/maintain your voices? Are there certain exercises you do or do you drink certain things?

To Emily:
What parts of Panam's personality do you relate to the most? Have you had an opportunity to watch her speak, and is it trippy to hear your voice coming out, or have you gotten used to that aspect with each character you've done over time? :D

Also I just wanted to say, thank you so much for your work in this game. You gave this character SO much soul and I have many friends, myself included, who have kept a save file at the start of her quests just to go back and replay them again. Definitely converted me to an audiobook enthusiast, and I'm looking forward to more of your work in the future!! :D

EmilyWooZeller_voice6 karma

Answering the vocal health question - FAB question. This is very individual to the person, but I always tell people to be very careful of the alcohol/coffee/dairy they have before a big day of recording. Also drink tons of water, and eat simply. I always advocate some kind of exercise before recording - yoga, or a run, biking, to get the body alive. And vocal warmups are always helpful, even humming. Likewise, if you're feeling strapped, vocal rest is one of the best things you can do-- no talking, no whispering, just lukewarm water or tea and steam- that's like a spa for your cords. GZ

EmilyWooZeller_voice4 karma

Hey! Thanks so much. I really love Panam's integrity and her rough edge. I really understand the tension between trying to just get by but also trying to do best by the values I have and the people I care about. You do get used to seeing a character have your voice, yes, but it was still a little trippy because I didn't realize she was going to be animated as such a jaw-dropping beauty! Cheers. EWZ

VLOBULI3 karma

Emily, to what extent were you aware of Cyberpunk's world design, character designs, visual aspect of the scenes, etc. while doing voice work? How does that work in game development and does it differ a lot from project to project?

EmilyWooZeller_voice3 karma

I had seen what pretty much anyone else in the public could see. But there was not a lot of specific visuals provided in the scene work. I think this differs depending on the project. For example, if you're doing a voice in a game that's been around, you will get to see what that world looks like. EWZ

Bad-Extreme3 karma

Hi! I would like to ask if you have a favourite moment from your voice acting career and are there any voice actors you look up to? Also, do you have any tips on how to sound better on the microphone? Thank you very much!

EmilyWooZeller_voice3 karma

Hey! Fun questions. Fav moment: Playing a dolphin in an anime dubbing session. Fav voice actors: January LaVoy, the late Katherine Kellgren, Jennifer Hale, Sarah Elmaleh... Tips for mic: Get a mic that is good for your particular voice, and you only can figure that out with trial and error. Practice, practice, practice. Listen to yourself. Develop your ear. EWZ

EmilyWooZeller_voice3 karma

LOVE THIS. One of my favorite moments was getting to record a scene with Augusten Burroughs for his memoir Toil and Trouble in which I played his aunt! Was amazing.

VO actors I look up to, all in the audiobook world: Jonathan Davis (started my career and is awesome), January LaVoy, Robin Miles, Suzanne Toren, Neil Hellegers, JD Jackson. You can hear samples of them all on audible.

Regarding sounding better on the mic: I think what you actually want is to sound more authentic, not better. To that end it's just about you finding your voice - both your actual voice and how you are a storyteller - to read the way that is most authentic to you. I'd much rather hear a story told from the heart than one with a smoothed out voice with no hard edges. GZ

velocichaptor3 karma

Thank you for doing this! I really loved your performance as Panam but my question is more geared towards your audiobook work, which is also stellar.

You're a trained actor and voice performer, so obviously you have more range than most people, but in a novel series like Poppy War, how do you find ways to embody some many distinct characters? When I think back to listening to the book it was always so clear who was speaking which was really impressive. Do you focus more on subtle modulations or cadence? Is it tough doing different but similar voices (like the men of the Yin family)? Do you have any tricks you can share? I'm not a voice worker but I run D&D for my friends and finding a distinct voice for so many characters is a real challenge!

EmilyWooZeller_voice3 karma

Hey! Thanks so, so much. This can be challenging, yes. First, understanding all the different elements that make a character different from another one really helps with giving them voice. But, if you have, say, two orcs, and the only difference is that one is wearing a blue tattered rag and the other is wearing a green one, then you can vary their pitch, their gravel, their pace, their rhythm, their breath, their mouth placement, etc. Cheers! EWZ

Exatal1232 karma

Hi Emily! I absolutely LOVE your character Panam and just wanted to say you did an amazing job.

My question is Did you like doing the voice for Panam? And how did you prepare yourself for doing her voice

EmilyWooZeller_voice3 karma

Thanks so much! I LOVED performing Panam. Preparing work for her was like any other acting job: working with the script, director, writing team to the extent available and understanding who she is and what makes her tick and what's happening in any given scene. EWZ

Yesu882 karma

Hey hope both of you are doing well!

I really enjoyed Cyberpunk 2077 and your performance as Panam. The storytelling and writing was phenomenal, and the characters were actually written a lot more like complex human beings than you would see in many other stories. I am also a big Star Wars fan, and Doctor Aphra has been my favorite character out of the new canon Marvel line of comics. My question is how was it preparing for that role, and how much lore and comics did you have to catch up with (if any)? With Star Wars being such a vast and lore heavy universe, I'm curious how difficult it was to incorporate yourself into it.

PS- I am actually gonna be starting the Doctor Aphra audio drama tonight. I'm really excited as I am a huge fan of her character and your performance in Cyberpunk. When I found out you voiced Aphra, it was really cool because when I read the comics, your voice was really similar to the one I imagined for her!

EmilyWooZeller_voice2 karma

I love it so much when worlds mesh like this! Yay!

I would say that in preparation for something that's as established and large as Star Wars, you need to understand the tone of the storytelling. There are many ways to get there. Personally, I didn't feel the need to consume everything out there. I needed to focus on Aphra and who she is and what drives her, which all was pretty clear from the script that Sarah Kuhn did a FANTASTIC job adapting from the comics.

I hope you enjoy Aphra. She is SO fun. EWZ

PedramMohammadi2 karma

Hi Emily,Hi gabra

Emily,love your work as panam in cyberpunk and also dr aphra in starwars, my question is, which character do you feel close to yourself as personality ..dr aphra or panam palmer?

EmilyWooZeller_voice4 karma

Hi! Thanks so much. Fun question. Panam. But I do still really love Aphra. She just gets into more trouble than I think I do, haha. EWZ

DinoDragonKaiju_John2 karma

Know of any accredited "schools" (for want of a better word) that do online courses for those interested in being fully licensed voice actors/actresses?

I both have and have not been trained, and am looking for help here.

EmilyWooZeller_voice3 karma

There's no licensing or accreditation process - believe it or not - but I'll answer a different way. There are a MILLION coaches, classes, teachers, academies, and because of that you have to be a bit careful. I think google is the best way to not only find exactly what you might be looking for (ie audiobook coaching, animation classes, basic overview courses) but also be vigilant in finding reviews of the teachers and/or schools who are teaching. Anyone can say they know what they're doing but you want to make sure they have both the craft experience as well as the teaching experience to back that up. Pro tip: great to take courses with people who also produce/direct/can connect you to people who can open doors for you. GZ

Zinganza2 karma

I'll ask another to Emily, if I may :D

There is a very distinct scene where Panam screams in Saul's face


and it really sounds like you put your back into that delivery! How do you prepare when you know that kind of scene is coming up? Did you have to take a break right after that to preserve your voice or were you able to keep going?

EmilyWooZeller_voice3 karma

The director usually did a good job of giving me a heads up if we were going to be screaming a lot, but I wouldn't necessarily know before the session started. I try to keep yelling scenes for the end of a session if I can. And yes, take breaks whenever needed. And generally, stay super hydrated and have good technique so I don't blow out my chords. EWZ

Her0icFern2 karma

Hi there, thought I might as well drop in!

First of all what I'll ask, is would you have any advice for doing voice acting as a hobby/part time in terms of startup? I've found I quite enjoy doing voices from stuff like D&D etc, and have thought about taking it further.

Second, out of any car available now, what do you choose as your nomad bugout vehicle and why?


EmilyWooZeller_voice4 karma

Answering the VO question! Advice for VO as a hobby/part time. I'm going to copy and paste a few thoughts from another q on here, because I think it'll be helpful.

"often times the non-commercial, non-union venues are the way to begin. Maybe you have a friend who needs a VO for his or her company? Maybe you know someone making a film who needs a VO? great way to get your feet wet and begin to build a reel, or have examples online you can send to potential employers."

That was pasted from another answer. I will also say that I love the word hobby here-- if you can look at it as something FUN that you take time to work on, to be curious about, to refine, to play with, like any hobby, and then take the time to explore what you can do with it, that's awesome. It is the wild west out there so if there's something you want, find out everything you can about it and make it happen! GZ

Zenphor32 karma

Hey Emily and Gabra! Preem work breathing life into our favorite spicy Nomad!

Question for Emily: If you could be Panam in the flesh for a day, what would you do in and around Night City? :)

EmilyWooZeller_voice9 karma

Hey! If I were Panam in the flesh for a day and I had a choice, I wouldn't be in Night City. ;-) EWZ

Owwmysoul2 karma

Hi Emily and Gabra! Thanks for doing this!

This is a question for Emily. I loved your performance as Panam in cyberpunk! When you get a VO job, how much of the character is you vs what's on the scripted page? Do you have a lot of input on how they turn out?

EmilyWooZeller_voice3 karma

Hey! Everything I performed was scripted. But other than the actual words and the scene, her character was what I performed and what the director, Pierce O'Toole, and the writers that were present during sessions helped shape. EWZ

remusfnm2 karma

What’s the most fun project you’ve worked on as a voice actor? And what’s your proudest moment as a voice actor?

Btw i love Cyberpunk. Best game since RDR2 😎

EmilyWooZeller_voice3 karma

Most fun project: recent book I fell mad in love with - THE ONCE AND FUTURE WITCHES by Alix Harrow. Also anything by Maria V. Snyder. Love the fantasy series!

Proudest moment: figuring out how to run a full career from my father's old coat closet in this pandemic (I have a full booth in Queens, but wanted to be with my mom during this time so she wasn't alone) GZ

EmilyWooZeller_voice3 karma

Hard to say what's the most fun, but Aphra and Cyberpunk are the most recent stuff that have really been awesome. Thanks for the support! EWZ

Orcwin2 karma

Consider the somewhat prudish nature of mainstream media, do you think your new venture might get you less work in Hollywood, or am I too pessimistic there in your estimation?

EmilyWooZeller_voice3 karma

I love this question. My thoughts: maybe? But I don't think so. What I really feel is that putting out stories of love, sexuality, humor and baking are truly what we all need right now so I think it'll create more openings rather than closings. GZ

EmilyWooZeller_voice3 karma

Yes. This is an excellent question. And 100% what Gabra said. I will add that romance and erotica occupy a slightly different space than on screen nudity or sex because the medium is different. The creative team involved in writing and audio is one step removed from the sexual content in a way that an actor on screen is not. That said, in some ways, it is even more intimate because there is more space for the imagination of the audience and therefore it lives differently in the audience's mind than a film might. This doesn't make it any better or worse than what we see in Hollywood, but just different. EWZ

Yoshisauce2 karma

Hi Emily!

Panam was absolutely amazing and I hope we get to see more of her so I really appreciate your work. My question is in regards to Panam’s articulation; I was fascinated by the way she spoke, specifically her use of contractions or lack there of throughout the game. Was that something that you were instructed to do or was that something you came up with to make her more unique?

Thank you!

EmilyWooZeller_voice3 karma

Thanks! I actually answered that in another thread but I'll copy and paste here. Everything I performed was scripted. It was what was written for her. People in the Badlands have no problem taking a little longer to say something because their lifestyle is so different, and being removed from Night City, they naturally would develop speech patterns that differ. EWZ

cruel-oath2 karma

Any favorite part about voicing Panam?

And who’s your favorite Cyberpunk character?

EmilyWooZeller_voice3 karma

Getting to be both raging and super intimate. No favs, just love. ;-) EWZ

KrispyBaconS2 karma

Hey, hope you guys are all staying safe! This is a question for Emily:

Did you know how anticipated the game was going into it or did it suprise you later on?

EmilyWooZeller_voice5 karma

Once I was told what game I was cast for, I understood the anticipation. I did not know, however, how well Panam was going to be received. Thanks! EWZ

CommanderZionOfRivia2 karma

Hi Emily! I just wanted to say that you did an incredible job as Panam! You brought such intensity and authenticity to the character!

My questions are: what would you say was your favorite part of playing Panam? And what was the most challenging aspect of the role?

Thank you so much!

EmilyWooZeller_voice4 karma

Hey, thanks so much! My favorite part of playing her was that she had such a wonderful range of interactions and relationships. The most challenging is the same as anywhere, so I wouldn't say it was specific to her. Keeping my voice healthy after screaming :) EWZ

SxrenKierkegaard2 karma

What was the thing about Panam that you appreciated the most?

EmilyWooZeller_voice3 karma

Her integrity. EWZ

PJCBEME2 karma

Hello Emily,

Thanks for doing this. After finishing PanAm’s side quests in Cyberpunk 2077, I was ready to move to the desert and live my life with the Nomads! Seriously, some emptiness set in during real life for the next 48 hours, as I was so connected to the story. Congratulations on voicing such an amazing performance!

My questions are...

Have you played PanAm’s complete side quests In Cyberpunk 2077? If so do you have a favorite moment?

Also, is there plans for more PanAm in the upcoming DLC?

EmilyWooZeller_voice3 karma

I haven't had a chance to play her side quests yet. But I sure did perform them all! Hard to pick a fav.

I have no information about any DLCs at this time. EWZ

jessewhite872 karma

First I wanted to thank you Emily for doing such an excellent job at giving life and making Panam one of the most memorable characters, not just in gaming, and helping shape a beautiful character arc that helped many of us truly immerse ourselves and craving for more (DLC).

Second I wanted to know which character, from any media is your favourite and why?

Last but not least, has anyone told you today you're awesome <3

EmilyWooZeller_voice2 karma

Thank you so much for your support.

I really loved playing Kuromi from My Melody. She was a real spitfire.

Cheers. EWZ

MrJohnnyDrama1 karma

If I may for both Ms. Zeller and Ms. Zackman, might your portfolio(s) include other works voiced in different languages, was it an enjoyable experience and if not, is there any interest?

EmilyWooZeller_voice1 karma

For me the answer is no they don't and YES I WISH THEY DID!! but first... I have to polish up the languages I used to know and learn the ones I want to know. Guess I could have used this pandemic for that... :) GZ

EmilyWooZeller_voice1 karma

I often have characters in audiobooks who speak different languages. I love it when that happens. I love languages. I speak Cantonese and some Mandarin and have lived in very linguistically diverse places my entire life. EWZ

GunTroller-14 karma

did you moan in a mic to record V and Panam's sex scene?

EmilyWooZeller_voice6 karma

The entire job is in front a mic. Whether I'm in a scene of anger or adventure or love, it's me telling the story. EWZ