Speculative-Inspired Arts: Deneen Melody

Voice actor and performance artist Deneen Melody chats with us about voicing animated characters, bloody good performances, and tapping into her fantasy geek to inspire her performance art.

Courtesy of Deneen Melody
Deneen Melody in the studio

You’ve done voice work for various types of speculative-based projects. Do you have a preference for project type? How do you pick your projects?

I honestly feel fortunate to be working on any type of voice project. However, I definitely prefer some more than others. I admit it. For example, I lean mostly towards animation and video games. I’m a huge fan, so each time I’m cast in a new show or game, I literally squeal. That being said, I’ve done a lot of English dubbing for foreign projects recently, which I find quite rewarding. (I work with director/actor Ezra Weisz on several, and the experience helps me as not just a voice actor, but an actor in general.) As far as picking the projects, it is more like they pick me. It IS just a lot of auditioning and, well, hoping. Note: I do sometimes choose NOT to audition for a project or a role if I feel it is not appropriate. Some roles and projects are better suited for other actors, and it should be their opportunity, not mine.

Tell us about your favorite project to date and what drew you to it.

Unfortunately, I can’t discuss my VERY favorite at this time due to being under an NDA [non-disclosure agreement] (AKA, I can’t say a thing till the project is out, or else I’m in big trouble!). I’m also absolutely thrilled to be part of the Sword Art Online franchise as the tiny, sweet, and brave Ronie Arabel. Her best friend is a character named Tiese, voiced by my talented friend Kimberly Woods, so it makes the project extra special! I’m extremely grateful to Bang Zoom! Studios and Mami Okada for bringing me into the world of SAO.

I hear you have an affinity for fantasy books and movies. If you could choose one character from all of speculative fandom to voice or portray on-screen, who would it be and why?

I won’t lie. I’ve thought about this A LOT and would love, love, love to play Danielle from Flight of Dragons (in a reboot animated or live action film/series). Nellie Bellflower does a gorgeous job as her voice in the original film, so I wouldn’t want to try and copy that in any way, but I would very much like to see what I could bring to the character. Also, this is something I have mentioned on my Twitter a few times, but I adore the game Chrono Cross and would love to voice Leena. (Another redhead and 100% my character type!) Bonus: Voicing any character in something related to Middle Earth/Tolkien, thank you!

Photo of Deneen Melody wearing a black unitard and balancing upside down in a tree as part of her modeling work.
Photo courtesy of Deneen Melody

When not tied up with your muggle day job, you perform at festivals like Labyrinth Masquerade and burlesque shows. Where do you draw inspiration from for your performances?

It all completely depends on the character/overall performance. For Labyrinth of Jareth, I’ve portrayed a different character each year. I’ve been a Night Elemental, a faerie named Sunflower, and a Talisk (aka Dark Elf) named Macha. For Macha, her design was inspired by David Bowie, Trash from The Return of the Living Dead, and the CATS musical, as I wanted her to have an element of 80s fantasy surrounding her. And, because of this design, I felt she was somewhat of a “punk with a chip on her shoulder,” so I played her as such. As far as burlesque or cabaret goes, I’m definitely more of a performance artist in a way, so I tend to create dance pieces that make the audience think. Weird, dark, ugly, and raw is my thing. I prefer to either not wear makeup or cover myself in paint, dirt, or fake blood.

You’ve also done work in independent horror films and shorts. Do any of your roles still haunt you? What’s been your favorite?

Photo Credit: Elisabeth O’Rourke

My role as Susan in 3 Slices of Life by Tinycore Pictures is still a favorite to this day, as I was completely covered in blood (I ENJOYED IT) and it always makes people go…uh, what am I watching? I LOVE that. Plus, the entire team behind the anthology is completely special to me. I also love Rose White, a contemporary fantasy film I created with Breakwall Pictures. Based on “Snow-White & Rose-Red” by the Brothers Grimm, the story touches on some very personal and sensitive experiences I had growing up. I’m very proud of what everyone accomplished on this film, even though it didn’t quite catch on as much as I would have liked, and the role of Lilly (Snow-White) is my favorite character I have portrayed on film.

As a creative, have you considered writing a book or short story, and if so, what genre would it be?

Actually, I’m working on a book series! I haven’t gotten very far on it, but we all know what a process storytelling can be. It is a YA fantasy adventure, taking inspiration from fantasy epics like The Lord of the Rings. I don’t want to talk about it TOO much, but the main character means the world to me and I think the ending is going to be a bit different than most folks would expect.

Some of the characters Deneen has voiced.

Last question! Do you have any projects on the horizon you can tell us about?

Oh no! Back to the NDAs! I actually do have some wonderful voice projects coming out, as mentioned earlier; however, again, I’m not allowed to talk about them. (I know, I know.) One thing I can talk about, however, is being part of the upcoming web series, Arrow: Unlimited, by Nerdbot Studios! All the characters in this series are genderbent, and I was extremely fortunate to fall into the role of Slade/Deathstroke. It is super exciting for me, as I’m going to do more fighting and stunt-type stuff, and it is also something I get to do with my wonderfully talented partner, Alex. (So lucky, am I! And he gets to do all the stunts!) As far as everything else, I recommend keeping up with me on Twitter, since I do a lot of promoting and project announcements on there!

P.S. Thank you for taking the time to interview and include me in all of this! You’re just too cool. 😉

Find Deneen Melody online and on Instagram under @deneenmelody.