We had the privilege of catching up with prolific voice actress Veronica Taylor – the voice of Ash Ketchum himself in the earlier Pokémon anime – ahead of her appearance at Supanova Brisbane and Adelaide this month.
Is it usually the same reaction every time a new fan meets you? ‘Oh my god, you’re the voice of my childhood!’ – that kind of thing?
The flat answer is yes, but it’s really always different. It never seems the same, is what I’m trying to say. With Pokémon, there’s something about that show that really reached in and hooked the kids, especially when they were little. It just had this heart about it. We all went on this kind of journey with Ash and his friends. For a little while in our imaginations, we were that 10-year-old kid that left home too. I think that’s what hits people when they come up to talk to me at the table. Suddenly, they’re transported back to when they were sitting on the couch on a Saturday morning, and it just hits them. It’s pretty extraordinary.
What’s it been like to see Pokémon grow the way it has over these last 20 years?
Who would ever have thought we’d still be talking about the show, and now with Pokémon GO, it’s brought this huge… almost like a wave of nostalgia with it as well, as everyone’s out running around with their phones out. Who could even think a game could do something like that and really bring people together and get them out of their houses. It’s been really neat.
Are you playing?
I am playing. I’m not very good at it. I’m only at level 8 right now. I don’t have enough time to do it. But, I’m always playing here and there. I just recorded a book – how to play Pokémon GO, basically. I haven’t learned a lot from the book yet, but I have to go back and study it.
Do you ever get any weird requests to say things in Ash’s voice?
Well, I certainly will never say anything that I don’t think Ash would really say. A lot of times people want me to record something that their own secret message type thing, and often times I won’t do that ‘cause I don’t really know what it means. I do think Ash is kind of a role model and I certainly don’t want something getting out there that’s offensive. I mean, Ash would certainly never swear, and as funny as it might be to hear him say something, I would never do that. I don’t mind saying ‘Pikachu use thunderbolt!’ over and over because I had to do that on the show. But, I think it’s a little more important if you can hear your own name – if Ash were to say, ‘Alesha, I choose you!’ It’s a little more fun than ‘Pikachu, Pikachu, Pikachu.’ I prefer that, to make it a little more personal.
I don’t think you realise how weird that was for me to hear you say my name as a character I’ve grown up with.
It’s pretty magical like that. I certainly think about that to a certain extent when I’m creating a character, when I’m being a character, that you have to really leave all of your problems outside the door and no matter what’s going on in your real life, you have to come in and really become that character. Especially for kids, if you’re not 100 per cent committed, they won’t buy it. I do Shakespeare in front of kids, and if you’re not fully in it, they just start talking in the audience. But when you are with a group of high school girls doing Midsummer Night’s Dream and they’re chanting and cheering, then you know this is real. It’s the same with a cartoon, you have to be in it all the way, and that’s one thing that Ash has really taught me. And, I think that with the voice, kind of bringing you back to your couch, I think that’s because we really invest a lot in our characters, and luckily you watched the show and we’re back in it together now.
What are you looking forward to the most about coming Down Under?
I’m looking forward to being in Australia, and looking forward to meeting all the great people who I get to see when I come to Australia. Often times I see people again who came to a show last year. I’ve met so many wonderful people on my trips in the past, and I just really look forward to that. I think of Supanova as kind of an extended family, and I just feel so fortunate to just be invited. It’s such a great show. My daughter’s coming with me again this year and we’re both really looking forward to it. I really love talking to people and if we start talking about Pokémon and we go onto something else, that makes me the happiest.
Supanova Pop Culture Expo hits Brisbane November 11-13 and Adelaide November 18-20