Becoming a professional voice actor for Final Fantasy, Diablo

voice actor
Singaporean Lauren Choo earned a BA in Theatre from UC San Diego. Source: Lauren Choo

Like all good stories, the protagonist begins with a humble backstory and goes through their share of hardships before they’re launched into their share of glory.

For Lauren Choo, her journey to voice acting for some of the biggest franchises in the world (like Final Fantasy and Diablo) started at home, during a time when she wasn’t even aware of what voice acting was.

Born and raised in Singapore, Choo attended Irvine Valley College in the US and, like many students before and after her, wasn’t certain what her future held. Luckily for her, an academic advisory course pointed her the right way, something that was in line with Choo’s passion for performing: A BA in Theatre at UC San Diego (UCSD). 

While not quite voice acting per se, the programme was Choo’s first look at what the industry had to offer.

Choo herself recalls that it was during the programme’s Senior Seminar course that she first learned about voice acting. Her professor had invited a professional voice actor to her class as a guest speaker, which inspired her to learn more about the industry as a whole.

“I learned that there are agencies that specifically work in voiceover and what kind of materials I needed to work my way into the industry,” says Choo.

“I found out that voiceover has its own unique way of auditioning and working, and although having an acting background is fundamental, there’s a lot more going on alongside acting when voice actors work, so taking voiceover-specific classes was necessary for me to learn techniques and practice my skills.”

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Choo before a live recording session. Source: Lauren Choo

The similarities and differences between theatre work and voice acting

To Choo, on-stage acting and voice acting are more similar than different. 

“One of the main differences for an actor would be the technicalities when performing,” she says. “When you are voice acting, you are recording behind a mic, so you have to be mindful of your physical distance from the mic and to adjust your voice according to how the mic picks up your voice.”

Choo compared it to learning how to use the space on a stage in the theatre. 

Another difference between the two is that in voiceover, there is often no rehearsal before recording or scene partners while recording. Even if it’s a dialogue with another person, a voice actor would only record their lines. 

“Sometimes a director might provide support like feeding you the line that comes before yours to help you with the flow of your performance, but it is not expected of them,” says Choo. “When auditioning, you are also expected to only record and submit your own lines.”

Choo says that being able to imagine yourself in your character’s world is an essential skill to have when voice acting. At times, voice actors would not be provided with anything to react to other than the words in the script and maybe some reference pictures.

The reason? Confidentiality.

It’s a big thing, especially in games and animation. It’s especially common for companies trying to stay hush-hush about the plot or character.

At times, the material given to the actors could even be fake just to maintain top secrecy, like how Marvel gave Tom Holland a fake script so that he wouldn’t leak anything by mistake.

In Choo’s case, she encountered this secrecy during her voice acting work for Final Fantasy VII: Rebirth. It was only during the game’s release that she realised she played multiple roles for the massive project. 

“When I got the booking to record for FFVII Rebirth, I didn’t know what I was recording for except that it was for a video game, especially because I’ve never played the game and don’t know any names or story from it,” says Choo. 

“During the recording session, I thought they would at least tell me what the game was, but they didn’t.  We just worked through the lines according to the director’s direction with the project’s client giving notes occasionally.”

It was an exciting experience for her, however, as it was her first time working in a larger studio. From having a dedicated parking space with her name on a placard and even her own sanitised restroom, the work was a memorable one. 

voice actor

Choo has lent her voice to games such as Black Desert Online: Land of the Morning Light, Shadowverse and Mythic Heroes. Source: Lauren Choo

Choo’s voice acting journey and her biggest inspirations

With three years of experience now under her belt, Choo’s talent speaks for itself — she specialises in a wide range of voice acting roles, covering women of all ages with accents ranging from British, Singaporean, Chinese, and Korean, to name a few.

Still, nothing quite beats working on projects that require her native Singaporean accent, especially when it is with projects from US animation and game companies. Choo has even completed three projects with the Singaporean accent and aims to work on more. 

“I’m still building my career, so most of my work is additional voices,” says Choo. “It’s the bulk of the work voice actors do – the more successful ones just get to voice leads more often while still providing additional voices on the side.”

While it’s not quite the same as having highly visible actors as role models, voice actors like Choo have their own niche of experts to seek inspiration from.

One example is Jennifer Hale, a massively successful voice actor who has lent her voice to many successful franchises. From Overwatch 2’s Ashe to Avatar Kyoshi and bounty hunter June in Avatar: The Last Airbender, Commander Shepard from Mass Effect, and Sam and Mandy from Totally Spies!, her career spans far and wide into the industry. 

Another favourite of Choo’s is Kelly Sheridan, who some may recognise as the voice of Barbie from the older generation of Barbie movies such as Swan Lake, Rapunzel, Nutcracker, Princess and the Pauper and more. 

“I remember always trying to identify her voice in the Barbie movies hoping that they’ve chosen to use her again and checking the credits to see if I was right,” says Choo, who hopes to voice a variation of Barbie in the future.

“I also aspire to become like Debra Wilson, whom I had come to learn of – and learn from! – after becoming part of the industry. Her brilliance is always mentioned by various different directors and casting directors during classes.”

And while being based in the US may open the doors of opportunities and connections, Choo acknowledges that the voice acting industry is a tough nut to crack, especially for People of the Global Majority (PGM).

“It will not become much easier in the near future because, other than the still existent struggle of some people not believing in diversity, casting is still striving for the best performance,” says Choo. “PGM should play characters of their own ethnicity, but they should be seen beyond their ethnicities, as counterparts of other white actors, as equal humans, and therefore be considered for roles that do not have an ethnicity requirement too.”

To Choo, if a character is meant to be a certain ethnicity, there has to be something innately about the character that was influenced by their ethnicity beyond fiction.

“At the end of the day, it comes down to respect and acknowledging people who have those specific lived experiences and their voices,” says Choo. “I personally would be ecstatic to perform a role that is specifically written for my culture because there is so much I have to say and show about my culture to people who are not familiar.”

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Choo hopes to voice in one of her favourite games in the future, such as Valorant. Source: Lauren Choo

A voice actor’s guide to voice acting

For those interested in pursuing a path in theatre and/or voice acting, check out some great insight from Choo herself.

You probably have heard this before – “voice actors aren’t REAL actors because they’re not on-screen!” What are your thoughts on this, and what would you say to someone who told that to you?

I would say they don’t understand what an actor does because it is the complete opposite – which is common because unless you’re an actor, it is very difficult to understand what it truly means to be one.

Most of the time, voice acting work is actually more reliant on the acting part of the work than any other form of acting. Because audiences of voice acting work don’t get the benefit of an extra sense (just audio, no visual) to help them comprehend the content they are taking in, voice actors are required to be even better at acting to be able to express the story they’re telling through audio to make sure the audience is getting what they’re trying to communicate. 

On the other hand, because there is no limitation to having the actor appear on-screen, almost anything imaginable can be created, which is why it requires even more acting skills to be able to fulfil a project’s vision.

Even in non-character work like a commercial voiceover, the ability to act is essential as every performance contains an interaction between the performer and the audience. There is a goal for the performer to communicate something with the audience through their work and leave them with something by the end of it, whether it is empowerment, awareness, or the urge to buy something they never thought they needed. 

I’ve encountered voiceover artists who don’t claim themselves as voice actors because they’ve never approached it as acting work, who’ve said that they’ve found success in voiceover on sites like Fiverr by just having a good voice. I think that limits the range of voiceover work they can do.

One of the most fundamental things to understand about what actors do is that we use our skills to connect with the human experience; we’re not just pretending to be something else or, in this case, putting on a voice. Pretending doesn’t make people feel anything and achieves the opposite of what actors should do.

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Choo fondly refers to her home studio as her closet booth. Source: Lauren Choo

Do you have any dream projects you’d like to be on as a voice actor?

One of my biggest career goals is to become THE voice for Barbie, and I hope that opportunity will happen in my lifetime. I would also love to voice a character in the video games that I play, such as Valorant, Overwatch or Apex Legends, because it would be so cool to be able to enter that world in this way and so interesting to play my own character or hear somebody else in the lobby play my character. 

My biggest personal goal, though, is to be able to be heard in Singapore, either in things like MRT announcements, regional ads or e-learning. I had just recorded my first one with the Ministry of Education very recently, so that’s exciting.

I always feel at home when I get to use my Singaporean accent for work and I would love my friends and family to experience my work too.

What advice do you have for future voice actors? 

Learn how to act and practice it; everything else comes after. 

People are willing to excuse many things, so even if you’re not technically proficient in your auditions, they will still find ways to work with you if your performance is amazing.

But having technical proficiency can be an advantage too; in Singapore, where the voice acting industry doesn’t really have a presence, knowing your technical stuff gives you a much-needed boost. One really good resource that I’m sure you’ve heard of if you ever looked into voice acting is 

If you’d like to learn more about voice acting, you can reach out to Choo on Instagram or X, or at