Once an aspiring actor, Kevin Chua relocated to Los Angeles to pursue a career where the audience never sees his face.
BY JO TAN
Published on 5 July 2016
BY JO TAN
Many performers dream of having their image plastered on a poster, but in Kevin Chua’s case, that may never happen, and that’s perfectly okay. “I studied theatre at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, but what I really wanted was to be a voice actor. I played Final Fantasy VII, and used to make up all the characters’ voices.”
Thankfully, further studies led him back to his first love. “I went to Los Angeles to study film acting and met mentors who were well-known voice actors, such as Yuri Lowenthal, known for voicing the teenage protagonist in hit cartoon series Ben 10, and Carol Stanzione, who spent time neutralising my strong British/Singaporean accent. I based myself in LA, and soon got to voice a narration of the Thomas the Tank Engine video game, Thomas & Friends: Race On!, as well as commercials.”
Not that Chua doesn’t act. He is one of the protagonists of YouTube gaming sitcom GotA (Gods of the Arena), and is also involved in various LA film projects. However, voicing characters remains his primary passion.
“Voice acting is letting the inner child out to play, and being as wild as you can in the sound booth. The lack of opportunities for Asian performers in LA seem less prominent when you’re casting based on the voice as opposed to appearances — not that it doesn’t happen from time to time. Plus, I think it’s great that the voice acting community doesn’t place too much emphasis on fame.”
Chua is taking his love for the animation industry further: he is currently producing, staff writing, and voice acting for the original animation project Lei Gong: Chronicles of the Sword, an East-West fusion anime.
“It started out as a prank call to a Chinese restaurant that I made with the worst Hong Kong accent possible, with the director and co-producer of Lei Gong present. They thought it was hilarious and somehow our ideas evolved into a full-length, martial arts anime/TV series.” Lei Gong features an all-star team including co-producer and sound designer, Elliot Herman, who won an Emmy for his work on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, as well as Lowenthal. The promotional campaign has begun, and the show will soon be pitched to network TV.
Of course, it’s not always easy for Chua, who admits that surviving in Hollywood can be a struggle, to say nothing of the nerd stigma that comes with being a hardcore gaming and anime fan. “It’s a wild ride. And you know, LA is increasingly being built around nerd culture. Every other week, I find a new comic convention round the corner. Yes, I’m a nerd, but even Samuel L Jackson and Liam Neeson are supposedly the biggest nerds ever, so I’m in great company.”