Finding Your “Voice”: How I Applied My Live Action Strengths in the Animated Feature Film ‘Malevolent’

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Booking an acting job in the thankless routine of auditioning met with the endless amounts of rejection, can feel as though one ran several marathons and placed. When said acting job is a project one actually enjoys and is proud of, that my friends, is comparable to completing a climb of Mount Everest.

I climbed that mountain inside the sound booth of a studio to record the U.S.’s first animated horror feature film ‘Malevolent’. I needed to reach the top of Everest and stay there. I had to find my voice, literally and figuratively. Landing the lead role and vocally portraying the protagonist of this one of a kind film opposite Morena Baccarin (Deadpool), Ray Wise (Twin Peaks), Bill Moseley (Devil’s Rejects) and the legendary William Shatner was no easy feat. In a vast sea full of actors and professional voice over actors I had to stand out.

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In an article I had previously written for Ms. In The Biz, Acting for the Long Haul: Go Big or Go Home’, I implored my fellow actors to recognize their own unique voice (what makes them special) and run with it. I had to take a big bite of my own advice and apply it to my audition and eventually my performance. As a live action actress I have not had the most extensive voice over career, but I was ready for the challenge. I knew that I would be up against some heavy hitters in the live action and voice over world, and I was not gonna go down without a fight. Instead of choosing a character voice or a particular sound that would set me apart from the tens of thousands of actors that auditioned, I applied my core acting strengths with the content as I would any live action audition and won the role. That was half the battle. I still had to hit that booth and work with Morena Baccarin, Ray Wise and Bill Moseley.

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I was overjoyed when I booked the role of ‘Miriam Dekalb’ in ‘Malevolent’. As a genuine sci-fi fan, there are no words that can accurately describe the pride I felt leading this animated film comparable to ‘SAW meets GROUNDHOG DAY’ alongside veterans such as Baccarin, Wise, Shatner and Moseley. I felt as though I was getting the chance to showcase exactly what I was made of professionally and I about “shat” (Shatner) myself with glee. After learning the true meaning off star struck (working with Baccarin & Wise) and fighting off momentary bouts of nerves, I went to work like a pro. As I mentioned earlier, at that time I did not have a sizable voice over resume but I needed to perform like I did. Having been a professional singer for most of my life, I knew how to perform in the booth in front of the mic. I was also comfortable with the equipment and small space. I am a very physical actress. As a former athlete I have performed my own stunts and can move well. Onscreen there were several physical struggles and fights in the animated performance. In the booth, I used actual movement to create organic sounding chase scenes and fights as though they were happening live in order to bring them to life. Finally, tackling the character of Miriam herself. Miriam was unlike anyone I had ever portrayed. Not having much in common with her, I started from ground zero. Picking her apart I dug deep down inside of myself and found the common ground between Miriam and I. Inhabiting her skin I became Miriam and threw myself into her world. Imagining in my mind’s eye that I was on an actual set instead of inside a recording booth. There in that place I turned out a performance I’m proud of with those I admire. I felt that I had arrived.
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It is easy to get bogged down by this industry that treats us as products rather artists. It is the nature of the beast. Rising above that unfortunate fact means letting go of all sorts of fears. Know your worth! Take solace in understanding that by showcasing your very own repertoire of talents you can set yourself apart from the crowd to GET THAT JOB and keep it. In that recording booth I went to war, armed with my arsenal of special skills. I found my “voice”, what I could bring to the table for team ‘Malevolent’. Portraying Miriam Dekalb like no one else could but me.

I am beyond humbled and grateful to have worked with the entire cast and crew of ‘Malevolent’. This project is special and very near and dear to my heart and the world deserves to see it!I t was an absolute dream come true work with these Sci-Fi greats and I want to share that experience with all of you. Please help us finish this incredible film. Our indiegogo campaign is super rad and full of AMAZING perks. You won’t regret it. www.malevolentmovie.com

MALEVOLENT teaser trailer from Jim Cirile on Vimeo.

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Dani Lennon

About Dani Lennon

A Chicago Native and a classically trained singer, Dani has performed all over the world and the country in exciting places like Carnegie Hall. Singing transitioned to acting as she took part in stage productions all over Chicago where she worked with many talented actors and Steppenwolf directors. After moving to Los Angeles she has been working consistently in television, soaps, film and new media. One of her most notable projects to date is Lionsgate/Machinima’s successful Series ‘Bite Me’. In addition to acting and singing, Dani’s interests and talents are extended behind the camera as a Screenwriter and a Creative Producer. Having been an athlete most of her life, she enjoys performing her own stunts, firearms, boxing and riding horses. As a self proclaimed adventure junkie, Dani loves the outdoors. Hiker, camper, fisherman and equestrian are the few roles she plays in her everyday life.