Nathan Hunt’s adoration for Asian culture led him to Otafest, a Calgary-based convention set around various Asian cultures. It was this same adoration that would also lead him to become a voice-over artist and start his own voice-over business.
During his university years, Hunt worked at a local Rogers Video store as a supervisor. His passion for foreign culture, more specifically Japanese culture, landed him a position as the store’s foreign expert.
During his time at Rogers, Hunt met Jim, a regular at the store, who would often ask Hunt for film suggestions.
It would be this same person that would introduce a young Hunt to Otafest.
“I basically went to the convention and I went, I think two years as an attendee, and then after that I started volunteering,” Hunt explained.
For 17 years, Hunt climbed the ranks of the convention’s volunteer hierarchy and eventually found himself as a senior leader.
Stephanie Mok, current chairman of Otafest and a long-time friend of Hunt, said she saw more than just a nerdy anime guy.
“He’s a very charismatic, dynamic, passionate person. He throws his whole self into things that he loves and enjoys doing,” said Mok.
“He’s really fun and entertaining to be around.”
From volunteer to career
In 2014, Hunt’s life would ultimately change.
During one of Otafest’s main events, Hunt found himself as the convention’s host for the opening and closing ceremonies. What made this year special, though, were the headliners — the voice actors for the English version of the top 90s anime, Sailor Moon: Stephanie Sheh and Vincent Corazza.
“They asked me if I did voiceover or something like that, because it's common, actually, for voiceover actors to go to events and provide their voices like an MC sometimes,” said Hunt. “And I was like, ‘Oh, no, I'm just, you know, I do volunteer here!’”
Impressed by Hunt’s voice, the three had a long conversation about voice acting and the industry, which fueled Hunt‘s interest. After days of careful consideration, Hunt decided this was something he wanted to pursue.
But, it wasn’t as easy as he thought. For the first three years of his career, Hunt auditioned for roles, engaged in training and one-on-ones with other voice actors and developed a voice unique to his style.
“Voice acting is about failure. Being an actor is about failure. If you're not okay with failure, you can't be in this industry,” said Hunt.
“You have to accept failure because you will get rejected all the time. You will have people listen to your auditions [and] not comment, you'll have people say that you suck...it's all over the place.”
For five years now, Hunt has been curating his technique, landing roles for shows such as Beyblade Burst, Future Card BuddyFight and, more recently, Enmax.
The vice-chair of people and experiences at Otafest, Vern Townsend, has worked with Hunt for the last three to four years and hopes to see him eventually leave Otafest as a volunteer.
“I honestly want to get to a point where we have to tell Nathan that we no longer want him to volunteer with us because we want to sign him as a guest,” said Townsend.
“To be able to say that this is Nathan, the guest for Otafest and to have our fans and his fans be excited about it, I think would be really cool.”
It hasn’t always been a steady climb for Hunt. Through the years, he’s faced many bumps along the way that would gradually slow down the contracts he was given.
“A struggle with voice actors now is that there are many people that aren't professionals in the field, that are acting, like trying to sell themselves as professionals. And basically, that just creates like, background noise, essentially, that makes it hard to hear the professionals out there,” Hunt explained.
Therefore, Hunt decided that it was time to rebrand himself in a manner that would allow him to get a competitive edge in the voice-acting market.
“I wanted to maintain the momentum and build that momentum up again and push it forward and think about my career choices strategically,” said Hunt.
Thus, came the launch of Hunt’s voice acting business, Hunt Voice Over, which set out to not only sell his services out to other companies but to ensure a steady workflow within the industry.
“I realized that if I didn't create my own voiceover business, I would slowly fade into nothingness,” said Hunt.
Hunt Voice Over is a self-marketing home business that allows for Hunt to reach out to companies that may need his voice for various tasks.
“I basically have a home business where I'll reach to clients and maybe small businesses that think they need a voice for whatever it is and sort of help them out with their project,” Hunt explained.
Hunt’s business is now in its second year and if there is anything that he regrets since starting it, it is not starting it sooner. His hope for the future is to not only see his business rise, but for all voice actors to understand and learn from change and failure.
“Embracing failure is very important and so is understanding that it's not personal,” said Hunt.
“I really want to get to a state where I'm a recognized and trusted name in voiceover and people are just constantly calling down my number.”
- By Julio Absolu