Where does my “creative voice” really come from?
Several years ago, I was asked if I could do a Scandinavian accent. I happen to have a lot of relatives in Finland (from my mother’s side), so you’d think I’d be able to do one on the fly. However, I haven’t been there since I was a kid, and I had never been requested to do it, so I wasn’t sure what would come out of my mouth. It was asked in the middle of a voice over session, so I had to give it a try right then and there as they were paying me and I thought “maybe” I can do it. The only person I thought to imitate was my Aunt. And, surprisingly, I found that can do a fairly good impression of her accented voice even though I haven’t seen or heard her speak for several years. Now, my Aunt’s accent may not be the perfect voice to imitate for a Scandinavian action hero in a video game, but it gave me a jumping off point for the future should the request ever resurface again.
I seriously doubt my Aunt would be caught dead in a outfit like this…even in her days of youth.
This request for a Swedish accent got me thinking about all my mother’s relative in Finland (they are actually Swedish speaking Finns), relatives who I rarely see, so I don’t know them on an intimate level. Over the years, I’ve slowly sifted through my 4 summer visits, visiting Finns in our California home, the stories and pieces of information I’ve heard via my mother, e-mails, etc over my lifetime, to really understand at a deep level, that I get my creative voice from them. I’m in this crazy acting business because of those darn “Finns”!
Woof! I get cold just looking at them on the map. It is very cold and dark in Finland around this time of year.
Anyway, it turns out, to entertain themselves during those dark and cold winters (and the nice summers too) my relatives partook in many types of creative endeavors. Several were musically inclined or had the acting bug or found themselves writing or directing at one point in their life. My mother “admitted” to me once that she was the lead in her high school production of “Antigone”. I got the sense that her parents, and probably the Finnish culture, didn’t encourage the arts as a career, so she shared this piece of information with me like it was a “secret”, or something she shouldn’t really talk about too much.
An Antigone-type character could definitely pop-up in a game, or even in Anime.
In the end, I don’t think there was really much money in the arts in Finland in her day, so my mother didn’t think it was an avenue for her to pursue. But, man, is my mom funny to watch if you turn the video camera on her. Shhhh, don’t tell her I said so. I think she would have made quite an actress in her day. If it were possible, I’d like to go back in time and see her playing Antigone. Wouldn’t that be cool?
My Aunt works (or she did work) in children’s television in Finland and started out as a writer. Soooo, is that why I like doing kids voices so much and I started my stage career doing Children’s Theater at the Odyssey (a well-know Equity Waver Theater in LA)? My Aunt, the one I do an impression of fairly well, is the one “working” artist in the family that I know of. Her daughter is now an aspiring theater director and could be making money at it now. My grandfather wrote symphonies on the side and conducted them (yes, as a hobby) and I have an Uncle who also was a very talented pianist/musician. But they were a little restricted (according to my Aunt…a lot) when it came to celebrating their talents as a profession and getting paid for it. I don’t really know the “true story” because I haven’t visited Finland since I was 14, so if any Finns are reading this don’t take offense if I don’t have all the facts exactly right. But it does explain a lot to me, even if being the arts is not a typical avenue to take in Finland. It’s still a risk here in the states, but hey, someone’s gotta do it! Might as well be me.
Thank goodness things evolve and change and I was born in California where there is sunshine to soak up and careers in the arts are a commonplace occurance, at least in LA. Sometimes I joke that I’m soaking up the sunshine and the artistic freedom for all those freezing their butts off up in Finland.
However, Finland is “cool” in many ways. I got to travel there several times as a kid and I wish I would have been more interested in my family history as a child, because now my Finnish grandparents have long since passed away, and I’d like to know how they felt about artists, because there are so many in their family. Really. A lot of creative voices are in Finland, of all places. Who knew.
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