Voice talent Suzie McGrath is a multiracial British actor known for her role as Tam Ryvora in Star Wars Resistance. She also starred as Kimberly in Kobe Bryant’s hit children’s podcast, The Punies. Her other credits include BBC’s EastEnders and Law & Order: UK.
Suzie recently joined us as one of our three panelists at our first Chai & Cocktails discussion, where she shared insights on the present state of diversity within the voice acting industry and the changes we are now seeing. Here’s what she had to say about this and more!
On auditioning for Star Wars Resistance:
“It came up just like any other audition, so via my agent. I didn’t have any special calls saying that this is Star Wars or whatever. Quite on the contrary, I only really learned that it was Star Wars because of the tiny little print at the bottom of the page … I’d already submitted my audition without even seeing that it was Lucasfilm, so for me I think that was significant because it was just like any other piece of copy that I would submit, and then knowing that [it’s Star Wars], you do start to get a little more nervous and a little more hopeful.”
On getting the role of Tam Ryvora:
“You just don’t believe it. You’re like, ‘What?’. It’s so, you know, it’s so exciting and that feeling just kind of never really goes away because there’s always something to look forward to each step of the way and there’s, you know, … the people that you get to meet, being able to observe, you know, your peers, and just how it’s all run is. It’s just terribly interesting and terribly exciting and you just — yeah for me, I’m still like, ‘What? Wow.’”
On pushing for diversity and increased representation in casting:
“It is a slippery slope and it’s gonna be a slippery slope until it’s an even playing field and then, in which case, there’s no slope to be had. Like for me, I’m not a terribly political person. I am an optimist so I always like to kind of reflect on how far we have come and we can’t forget how far we have come but there is still work to do, you know. In an ideal world, we would all be these artistic chameleons that can play anything, you know, whether that’s a human, a different race, whatever, and artistically it would be acceptable but unfortunately, that’s not where we are. These systemic bias … it’s so ingrained into our society and ingrained into the industry that until we kind of start to peel back those things and … starting with letting those few characters be represented accurately, then from there we can build and pull back layers and right the wrongs. And it’s gonna take drastic action — people are gonna have to give up their jobs, people are gonna have to restructure, people are gonna have to figure out how to cast something that represents everybody that makes space for non-white people.
So yeah it’s exciting. I think it is exciting that through the year, I’m here representing not just a Black, but a Black mixed-race person, a Black mixed-race, gay woman. And for me, if I was to listen to everything that society kind of throws at you, you’d be sitting here completely depressed. I don’t know how I would get out of the bed in the morning but, you know, that’s not how I see myself. That’s not who I am. … I feel like I’ve been lucky because I’ve been brought up in such a way that I do have ambition and I know that there is no limit to my ceiling but, you know, again, we have to be here pushing back, um, fighting for what’s right, fighting for ourselves, fighting for our lives, fighting for each other.”
On creating more opportunities for rising talent:
“I was thinking about … how do we create opportunity for people that haven’t been in the trenches for long, you know? For new and upcoming talent that have so much to offer but just don’t even get the opportunity? I don’t know how they cast, I don’t know if there’s a percentage of characters that they open up for new talent for people … I don’t know but it was something that was weighing on my mind so I’m like, ‘Hmm’, it’s not just- it doesn’t just come down to race, it comes down to availability, it comes down to people that you know, opportunity, and how do you cast that net a bit further.”
On the need for change in the industry:
“Why can’t we push the reset button as humans anyway? We always have to constantly assess and reassess and move with the times and work with what we’ve got and so why can’t we strip it down? And like a building has to be re-decorated … you know, like us as people we have to do that with our bodies, like why can’t we do that with things, practices, workflows? Things — they always have to be re-visited, restructured — like why can’t we do that?”
On whether representation and diversity has improved:
“Yes. Just look at the things that we’re watching. I don’t know about you but like each platform you — I stream a lot of television, and movies and things — and very slowly but steadily and surely I am seeing more characters like myself. And I’m looking from an angle of a mixed-race character or a Black character or female character or gay character and it’s happening. I mean, can it happen quicker? Yes. Would I like to see more? Absolutely. Do I want to see better quality in certain aspects? Yes, would love to. But it’s definitely better than when I was a kid and there was nothing to see. So yes. Yes for me.”
On recommendations for getting into the voice acting business:
“Personally, I studied drama. I went to university, I studied acting and that’s how I came into it and learned some of the skills to become a voice actor because of that. So … things I would recommend for somebody if they wanted to get into it, I would say definitely take some classes. Definitely immerse yourself so you get to meet people, watch people, work out how to use the mic … it’s just as important to know how to use a mic as it is a camera. I would say for me, one of the best things is warming up, being able to know your mouth and your instrument so I really, really, really am very grateful for doing voice classes, vocal classes, technical voice things so that you can warm up because things like video games where you’re screaming you can damage yourself. So being able to like maybe … read some voice books … take some voice classes, learn how to use your mouth and your voice and your breath, most importantly. … That, I think, is something that is very, very, very valuable for somebody that would be wanting to get into the business.”
To keep up with Suzie and her work, you can follow her on Instagram @suzie.mcgrath!
Our next Chai & Cocktails event features the Dassani Brothers, directors of the new film Evil Eye on Amazon Prime set to be released on October 12th. Register for this special event and tune in October 23rd at 5PM PST for our scary and exciting chat about all things horror with them!