Since she secured her first acting role in 1995, Elise Greig has appeared in everything from TV series to radio commercials, local theatre and feature films. Locally you will have seen her on the stages of La Boite and Queensland Theatre, but it's her work out of the spotlight as a voiceover artist that has been constant throughout her career. In the first interview of our Behind the Scenes series with local artists, we talk to Elise about how she got her start in acting and her latest work with Peppa Pig.
How did you first come to be interested in voiceover acting?
I trained as an actor and part of actor training is of course voice training. I’ve always loved working with the human voice. Once I’d graduated I toured with TN!, worked with La Boite, Queensland Theatre and lots of other companies, and did further training overseas. Then I attached myself to Dianne Eden at Queensland University of Technology and learned heaps about all things voice.
As part of my training, I put together a voiceover demo and approached studios – it was hilarious because I’d recorded my demo on a tape recorder in my bedroom! One of the audio engineers phoned me and said my demo recording quality was terrible, but he loved my voice. He booked me for a job and I haven’t stopped working since.
What was it like breaking into the industry?
It was terrific. I loved that I could use my actor training and skills to support myself between acting jobs. It was a very empowering moment when I realised that.
You do both voiceover work and acting – what are the main differences between the two?
Each medium you work in, be it film, TV, radio, voice acting etc., has its own unique requirements, but essentially acting is acting. You’re following an objective and using actions and intentions to get there. Sometimes you do this over the course of a play, sometimes in a 30-second voiceover script, sometimes in a scene in a film or TV project, or sometimes in a song.
How do you prepare for a new role?
I do all my textual analysis and research and then I go into the rehearsal room and play! I love the process. Sometimes I need to do heaps of research and sometimes not so much. I’m always observing people and quite often base my characters on people I know or people I observe. Each role is unique. I also make sure I eat my veggies and take vitamins because acting is such a physical thing to do.
When you are working on a voiceover role, what is a typical day in the studio like?
Sessions are usually one hour in length and there are a few in a day. If I am working on an IVR (interactive voice response system) or a narration or animation, the sessions are usually longer and have a break in the middle. Most of the time I receive the script on the spot so it’s important to be a good sight reader. I then listen closely to what the client needs to achieve with the script, make notes and hieroglyphs on my script and work with the producer and audio engineer to achieve it. It’s important to drink lots of water to keep my voice lubricated and healthy.
In the new Peppa Pig film, Peppa Pig My First Cinema Experience, you play Mrs Kangaroo, your husband is Mr Kangaroo and your daughter is Kylie Kangaroo. What’s it like working together as a family?
Heaps of fun! The dream gig! Our daughter was so clever and quick to deliver – it was a joy. My husband’s a funny guy, so it’s always fun to do sessions with him. And playing a talking kangaroo who’s a marine biologist is a total treat.
How did the three of you to come to be involved in the same film?
The UK producers of Peppa Pig put the call out for a kangaroo family. We got the casting through our Sydney agent, Kathy Evans Voice Management and put an audition down. I think we did a few auditions and then they picked us. It happened over a year ago and we needed to sign a confidentiality agreement and couldn’t talk about it until it was released. That was the hard part!
You have now been in the industry for more than 20 years. How has it changed in this time?
The industry has changed quite a lot since the introduction of digital – the world is now a smaller place in many ways and therefore opportunities are closer. Travelling for work is now cheaper than ever, so that’s excellent. Social media has meant it’s easier to stay connected with peers and colleagues and to promote shows and projects.
You also write your own theatre shows. How did you become interested in this?
I started writing about 15 years ago when I was pregnant with my first child. It seemed a logical progression and a good way to stay connected while I was having children. I’d written a one-woman show and on the strength of this, Sean Mee (Artistic Director at La Boite at the time) commissioned me to write a full-length show. After that I just kept writing.
Do you have any new theatre projects in the pipeline?
Yes, I’m currently rehearsing a gorgeous script – Swallow – as part of Metro Art’s LCL program. It’s about three strangers crossing paths and inadvertently enabling each other to move on. We have a terrific team – Stace Callaghan, Julie Cotterell and Kate Shearer directing. I am really looking forward to performing this piece.
What upcoming shows are you looking forward to seeing in Brisbane?
Heaps of things! Michael Gow’s new one, Once in Royal David’s City for Queensland Theatre and Lady Beatle at La Boite are two that come to mind. There is also a lot of terrific cabaret happening at Brisbane Powerhouse.
Special thanks to The Voice Plant for allowing us into their studios for photography.