Join us for an exclusive interview with voice actor Veronica Taylor, Ash Ketchum’s original voice and find out all about her roles in animation, anime, and videogames in our Q&A!
Thanks to Supanova Expo, we were lucky enough to be able to talk with the wonderful Veronica Taylor, the voice behind many of our childhoods. Veronica is well-known for her main role as Pokémon protagonist, Ash Ketchum, as the original voice during the first 8 seasons of the series. Beyond Ash, Veronica has also played several other characters in Pokémon, roles in videogames including Fire Emblem and Valkyrie Profile, and anime including Sailor Moon and One Piece.
So tune in to find out all about Veronica’s impact on pop culture, some of her favourite roles in gaming, and of course her time as the iconic voice of Ash from Pokémon. We’ve included the full transcript below and you can watch the entire Q&A in our video at the Qualbert.com YouTube channel.
Q&A with Veronica Taylor – Voice of Ash Ketchum
Many fans, including myself, grew up hearing your voice as the iconic character, Ash Ketchum, from Pokémon. When you began voice acting in the Pokémon series, did you imagine this role would have such a huge cultural impact?
Not at all! As an actor, I’ve worked on so many different things before that and since I started working on Pokémon. So, I don’t think anyone could have even realized that a show could go on this long, let alone that characters could have the impact that I think Ash Ketchum has had.
I mean, we, we journey with him. We are Ash Ketchum. And so the fact that we’ve been able to be on this journey as human beings and celebrate and mourn and everything along with him. It’s been just extraordinary. Everybody has their favourite episode or their favourite game or even their best friend that they’ve made because of liking Pokémon.
There’s so many things that weave in and out of our Pokémon experience, that have made the journey such an in incredible part of all of our lives. So much so that I think when you meet someone anywhere, you can start talking about Pokémon, find out what you have in common, and move your friendship on from there.
What are some of your favourite moments from your time as the voice of Ash Ketchum?
When we recorded the episodes, as with most things that I work on, we arrive, we haven’t seen the script, we jump into the booth, we just start the episode. Sometimes you get a small synopsis of what’s gonna happen. Sometimes you don’t, but you’re really working minute by minute, moment by moment. And when I left the studio. I don’t think I could have told you my favourite moment because you’re so in the middle of it.
But some of my favourite episodes that I’ve seen since so I really can refresh my memory, I think the first episode for sure, cuz we see magical Ash getting up. There’s so much packed into that episode and you really see who he is. He gets nothing that he wants and yet commits himself fully to Pikachu and to this journey that they are now on together. That’s pretty intense.
Also the Snorunt episode where they’re in the cave together. The episode where he finds Charmander, who’s been left out on the rock. Things that unfortunately you see in your real life that you can apply to, um, whether you find a butterfly on a sidewalk, you rescue it or you know, to something even bigger where perhaps you adopt a pet or you help a friend.
You know, all of that can relate back to some emotional part that appeared in an episode of Pokémon. So, I think those are my favourite. I love the battles, but I love the more personal moments that people have together.
You’ve also performed several other roles in Pokémon, including May, one of the key characters in Pokémon Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald. How did it feel needing to perform the voices of two main characters at once?
I’m only in the first eight seasons of Pokemon, so they replaced us all before Black & White or Diamond & Pearl. May had a substantial amount of time when I played her, and I think the interesting thing that we got from her is that she was someone who was going after her goals, but had so much actual responsibility with her little brother Max.
There was a lot to learn from that. And I think the kind of the head space that they were each in is one of the challenges in playing them. Because Ash would be so out there and headstrong and is like “Oh yeah. You have to think about anyone else”. Whereas May would have to be doing things but also have her brother in mind.
When we recorded them, we record one character all the way through, and then the next character and then the next. So I didn’t have to bounce back and forth in the scene, but I could really invest myself in what each character was going through. It made it much more of a pleasure to play both.
I played Ash’s mom also, and sometimes the three of them were in a scene together. That was pretty great! But it’s nice that way because you really can immerse yourself fully in what the character’s going through. Whereas in an audiobook, for instance, or when I worked on Ninja Turtles, you record everything straight through.
So if you have an audiobook, you’re recording the narrator and then all the characters together. When you’re doing pre relay, the voices come first, and then the animation. We recorded that like a radio play. We still recorded the scenes and we had room to play with the, the characters and if you had two characters, you would just bounce back and forth along the way. Challenging, but super fun.
And while we’re still on the topic of Pokémon, which Pokémon would you have on your team and why?
Well, I would have to pick Pikachu just because of course I’d get in trouble if I didn’t. I do like the element of surprise. I mean, I think that’s one thing that makes the card game and also just collecting cards so great, because you open a pack and you just get what you get.
Lately, I’ve been more on getting a Mr. Mime on my team. Cause Mr. Mime can pretty much do everything you need around the house. And I think things are so busy nowadays, you need someone to kind of take care of that stuff so you can just get out there and really work on your goals. So other than that, I might go with the regular starters as well. Classics, can’t go past them.
Q&A with Veronica Taylor – Other Animated Roles
Outside of Pokemon, you’ve voiced roles in such a wide variety of animated series, including widely popular series like One Piece and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. What are some lesser known characters you really enjoyed voicing?
I did work on a stop action cartoon called “Mofy” that I think was on here for a while, although it was never on in the United States. That is a cartoon that the character is Japanese. The stop action was done in Italy and we recorded the voices in New York, and I moved in the middle of it. So it’s kind of a cool global project. It’s very sweet, it’s all made of cotton and I just love that it’s soft, literally. Because the situations that the characters get in, it’s for younger kids, so they’re simple and lovely and they always find a solution. So that was a great, I loved working on that.
I love stop action, there’s something wonderful about it. “Rilakkuma and Kaoru” also I work on. That and then the second season. I play the Boy [Tokio] on the show who befriends, Rilakkuma. He’s Kaoru’s neighbour. That’s another, just such a popular, like charming stop action series. And then the second season is not, I think it’s a little more computer animation to look stop-actiony, but that’s really sweet/
I do a ton of anime – there’s so many animes out, right? I know now that have very long names, which are fun. I think the Fire Emblem video games – I’m in Three Houses, I play Manuela. And in Heroes, I play Macaiah. Manuela is certainly one of my favourite characters to play ever. She’s very memorable. She’s crazy, and crazy fun to record.
Q&A with Veronica Taylor – Video Game Voices
You’ve also played roles across many video games, including some of our favourites like Valkyrie Profile and Fire Emblem. Which video game role/character has been your favourite so far?
I got to do Dragon Ball Super – I played Brianne, or actually more Ribrianne in the video game as well. That was both the show and the video game and they’re super fun because she’s just bouncing along, fighting with love and I just love that.
I think ultimately, I was Cosmos in Final Fantasy and that was really great. That is was one of the slowest speaking roles I’ve ever had, and she’s so powerful and yet it it all had to match the timing of the original Japanese version of the game. So that kind of thing where you’re just working on your piece and then you’re waiting for all of the [feedback]. We recorded that in LA and then people were in Japan and they were going back and forth and there’s all the notes going by that you can’t hear and then you have to redo the line. That was a cool project to be part of.
But certainly Manuela is my favourite all-time role because yeah, she’s so, she has so many levels. She’s so smart, so talented, and so needy. And she lays it out on the line. Every, every line of hers is just out there. And I just love that. You know, she would be nothing without, none of us would be anything without good writers.
So that they can structure it so that as an actor, I can imagine and kind of imbue other layers to it. When it’s written there for you and the people who are directing it are like, we all kind of work together to create a more well-rounded. Character than just flat lines. We could really bring her very far and then reel it back in. Yep. She has some scenes where it was really fun to play.
If you could pick a dream video game to be involved in, what would it be?
Well I think right now, anything Star Wars or Marvel.
The dream about that is that that too has so many different levels and your character could then be in its own game and those things have a longevity that so many other games don’t because the story arcs are so intense. I would think something like that I would love to do because you, as an actor, there’s a huge luxury, like with Pokémon, to have a long time to really live in the character.
And many games are just like a “one and done” in a sense. So I would rather be part of something like that, that really lives in a world and you can, you can pull in so much of your own knowledge into your session so that it, it becomes so much greater than even what it was on the page originally.
Q&A with Veronica Taylor – Advice for Voice Actors
Lastly, what advice would you give to budding voice actors wanting to get started in the industry?
Well, I think all of us do different voices around the house. I think we all goof off with our friends, do voices and accents. I think that’s always a good thing to just keep in mind how important play is, because you wanna be able to just goof around and see what comes out.
On the technical side, I did every play I could when I was in school. I went to university – for acting I have a Bachelor of Arts and I went to grad school. I have a Master of Fine Arts in acting, so all of my training comes into play every day in any, any job. And I have so many different voice related jobs, but I use those skills every day.
So, I think training’s really important. At the very least, take a scene class where you’re working with a partner and learning how to figure out what your objectives are and ways to get them and so that you’re using your skills to make a better scene. That also helps your voice because you learn how to create a different character with out of whatever body you have in the moment. And some people also take voiceover classes, then you can really extend your range and do characters that are so different from what you look like.
I think networking is important because you’re meeting people all the time, especially at a convention like Supanova. You meet artists and other actors and you never know who you’ll meet, that they can need you for something or you can help with, somehow you all can work together and elevate each other’s projects.
And I think for voice acting, you need a good demo. Maybe a minute or a minute and a half showcasing what you do best. I have a cartoon, I have a commercial, and I have an audiobook demo – so that people like them to be separated. I think casting directors don’t always have a lot of imagination. They like to really see what they’re looking for. So if they want audiobooks, they don’t always wanna listen to your animation reel.
Because you’re using different parts of yourself, but essentially you’re always telling a story. So you want to get the best thing that can showcase that in your demo. Show what you do best, meaning if you do a lot of impressions, put those on. If you you wanna show range? I’d like to show from a tiny baby all the way through a hundred year old person Wow. And some boys and children and girls and teens and whatever all the way through. So you wanna have all of that in there.
Part of it is just listening to people and enjoying the people that you’re around and just kind of drawing from that. Because when you create a voice, you often have, if not looking at the picture in front of you, you have someone in mind that you know, or the mannerisms that they use physically or vocally, and you incorporate all of those things.
Tuck into your imagination a lot to pull out these characters. You’re playing the moment, so you have to, you have to really just be in it, and that’s where you can just get so happy and the next minute be angry and then be crying and because you’re really playing the moment. And so your lived experience, your acting classes, all. Helps you figure out how to hit those points along the way.
That’s all for our interview! To keep up to date with Veronica, you can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok. And to relive classic Pokémon, be sure to follow The Trainer’s Guide Podcast with Veronica and her daughter, Rena, as they relive the original seasons of Pokémon episode by episode.
If you enjoyed our interview with voice actor Veronica Taylor, be sure to check out more of our gaming and pop culture articles and join the official Qualbert.com Discord. And if you’re involved in gaming and pop culture would love to feature in our next Q&A, please reach out to us here with your expression of interest. We’d love to hear from you!