Christy Carlson Romano and Will Friedle have been in our lives for what seems like forever. Friedle starred on the beloved TGIF sitcom Boy Meets World as the adorkable older brother, Eric Matthews, while Romano starred on Disney Channel’s Even Stevens as the smart and overachieving sister, Ren Stevens, amongst many other projects. Together, they also voiced the iconic animated duo Kim Possible and Ron Stoppable on Kim Possible. Fast forward 20 years, and the two now host a podcast together, I Hear Voices, an interactive podcast where they interview voiceover icons and even have fans call in to try their hand at voice acting.
Nerds and Beyond had the pleasure to talk to Romano and Friedle all about the podcast, the contest that they are currently hosting to find the next big voiceover actor, and much more. Keep reading to see what they had to say!
*Interview has been edited for clarity*
Nerds and Beyond: I wanted to start by asking a bit about I Hear Voices Podcast, which is such a unique podcast because it’s so interactive and gives listeners the chance to become voice actors themselves. How did this whole concept come to be?
Will Friedle: Christy and I were at the conventions, and we kept meeting all these fans who were saying, “We love voiceover,” “Hey, can you do this voice?” “How do you get into it?” And so because we were interacting with so many of the fans that felt that way, we said, “What would happen if we came up and gave them a platform?” Our dream was essentially … we love voiceover, so yes, we easily could have just spoken to voiceover actors, and that would have been amazing because they’re incredible, talented people who have wonderful, rich stories, which we’ve gotten to capture on I Hear Voices.
But the thing we wanted to do to take it to the next level was also to have amateur actors have a chance to call in and to work with people that they might not have had another chance to work with. And that all started from the original dream of the contest, which I’m sure we’ll get into that. The show has continued to morph as we’ve had the opportunity to grow. It’s been great.
Nerds and Beyond: You’ve also talked about it already a little bit, but why is it so important for you to have this interactive aspect about the podcast?
Christy Carlson Romano: I think that Will and I, we actually had a couple of development meetings with our EP Brandon Rooney, and we were like, “Hey, what is the show?” When you’re creating something new, you have to understand that there’s obviously a market for it. We knew that from comic cons that we went to and the fans that were coming up to us and just wanting to feel heard and seen, and so we came to each other and said, “How do we make this like almost like listening to a Comic Con experience?”
I think that really had to mean that we integrated talking to fans live. We’ve done that many a time, haven’t we? Before the contest, we loved to do this thing called Across the Garden, where Will is an excellent writer. He’s written for so many different studios, including for his all-time favorite show Thundercats, and I love receiving the scripts weekly because we would actually have our guests at the time and an amateur come through on Zoom with us as we’re doing our interview and truly like you said, it is interactive. We’re inviting people in to have this experience not just with us, who they may know, and are fans of but like this other amazing person, so it’s like a bonus experience.
Nerds and Beyond: That’s great! That’s so incredible.
Will: Our fans have been amazing, and some of the talent that’s come on. Again, it’s certain cases where Christy and I are shocked. People will come on and nail the character right away. “Wow, you’ve never? This is amazing.” They’re like, “Well, yes, I’ve never done this before. I’ve never had the opportunity to do it.” So that’s starting to change a little bit with social media and TikTok, and people have more of a platform to kind of showcase their talents, but we love that we’ve been able to help even just a little bit.
Nerds and Beyond: Speaking of interactive aspects, you’ve already talked about this a little bit, but there is a contest going on to find the next big voiceover. What’s that whole process like?
Christy: Please, Will, entail us.
Will: It’s this contest to become the next big voice actor.
Christy: It’s this super awesome contest to become the next big voice actor.
Will: You got it!
Christy: I did it!
Will: That’s the first step, to be able to say the title. But that’s what we wanted to do. Our dream was to start this contest where we would kind of blanket the country to find an amateur voiceover actor and make them a colleague. Obviously, when we first started the podcast, we logistically just couldn’t swing it. And then we partnered up with iHeart, who said, “Yeah, let’s do it.”
It’s available to anyone in the United States over the age of 18. You send in a up to a two-minute video to firstname.lastname@example.org, showcasing whether you can do a bunch of voices or whether you have a great angry voice or a great movie announcer voice; it doesn’t matter. Just send us something, and the winner will receive a flight to Los Angeles. You’re flown out to LA to have lunch with Christy and I; you get $1,000 in spending money; you get a coaching session from Emmy Award-winning director Sam Regal and Mary McGlinn from The Legend of Vox Machina, which is the Critical Role show with all my friends over there that Amazon is doing. You can see it on Prime. Season 2 launches January 20.
The coolest of them all, you get a year-long contract with my voiceover agency, ESD. So you can win a career, as Christy likes to say, it can be your big break. We’re so excited to finally be able to do this, and it’s going to be straight-up American Idol style. We’re going to take 16 contestants, and we’re going to go down to number one, and somebody is going to win a chance to kick down the door of the entertainment industry, so we can’t wait.
Nerds and Beyond: I love that you’re doing that, especially with all of your experiences in voiceover.
Will: Christy really opened up my eyes when it came to stuff like TikTok and Instagram. I’m just not savvy when it comes to social media, and she’s going, “Look at some of the talent that is on TikTok.” And, I mean, you know, Christy, you opened this whole world for me.
Christy: Thank you! I just think we were looking for the best guests that we could find, and there were a few that I knew about. We had the CoComelon mom on, and she was somebody that wasn’t necessarily on his radar because he doesn’t have young kids. We’ve talked about the fact that voice actors are everywhere. You just don’t realize you’re hearing them as many times a day as you are, and so we’re giving people their flowers and sort of really illuminating the different philosophies that each of these people have that really make them winners and pioneers in the industry. So it’s a really special podcast for that reason, for sure.
Nerds and Beyond: Do you plan on holding more of these contests in the future or expanding outside of the country?
Will: Well, we gotta get through the first one. It’s been a ton of work, and I would like to give a shoutout to our producer, Vicki, and the whole iHeart team, who’ve really been just working so hard to help us out here, and we’re getting the submissions now, by the way. You can submit from January 9 to February 9; the cutoff date is February 9. Again, it’s email@example.com. We’ll get through this first one. We’ll see how we do. If we’re awake or how much sleep we’ve gotten until the contest is over. And then we’ll see because I know that when we announced on Critical Role last week, there were a ton of comments of people saying, “Man, I want to do this, but I’m Canadian,” or “Man, I want to do this, but I’m British.” So we’ll see how we finish the first round. We’ll get the American winner. And then we’ll go from there and see what else we can do.
Christy: You know, speaking of Nerds and Beyond, and this is the podcast. I think we had a previous interview today, and it was really interesting because what I really like about our podcast community is that it is almost like a portable Comic Con experience and the different fandoms are served and represented by our guests. We had Neil Ellis; he’s one of the faces of Call of Duty; he’s a mocap guy. We had one of the girls from M3GAN if you’re a horror fan. Who else? Kevin Conroy, if you’re a Batman fan. Like all of those, we are very mindful of having exciting guests come that represent different fandoms and nerdoms, if you will.
Nerds and Beyond: That’s actually a great segue into my next question because it was about all the guests that you have on there. Do you have someone in mind that you would love to have on the podcast?
Will: Again, there are so many of my friends that I’ve worked with over the years that we still want to have on that are just some of the best voiceover actors working in the industry. But then there’s people that are live-action actors that do some voiceover, and we’d love to talk to them about the contrast between the two. Somebody like Bradley Cooper, who does Rocket Racoon in Guardians of the Galaxy. “What’s it like? Are you on set when you’re doing it? Are you just dubbing afterwards?” Vin Diesel from the same movie. “Your entire performance is ‘I am Groot,’ how invested are you in this? Are you going through every day?” There’s a lot of questions that we’d love to ask those kinds of actors as well. But there are so many phenomenal actors out there. Voiceover actors that kind of never get spotlight that we’d like to kind of put a ray of sunlight on them first. So there’s a ton. I don’t know. How about you, Christy?
Christy: Yeah, I have a few that are in my mind right now. Like Christina Vox from Miraculous Ladybug. We’ve been trading DMs — a lot of times when we’re reaching out to friends or people I haven’t met. It’s like we have a social media connection, and so sometimes social media can be very helpful when you’re a content creator. You’re trying to build your community.
Nerds and Beyond: When you do comic cons, you have live shows on the podcast. How is that like being able to really interact with the fans in person?
Christy: So, so much better than a panel.
Will: It’s so much fun. I mean, we will fill these rooms. We were at San Diego Comic-Con. It was Sunday morning, Day Four.
Christy: Just like the worst slot ever, right?
Will: How could you do anything at 11:00 in the morning? And there was a party on Saturday night. We filled the hall. And then, when we got to the interactive portion where we had this amazing artist, Joe Wos, come on stage, and he draws these pictures instantly. He wasn’t with us in San Diego, but he sent us a whole bunch of pictures. But he comes on at the conventions with us, and he’ll draw live on stage, and then we’ll put it up and projected behind us. We have two rows of people waiting, and they instantly have to put a voice to whatever is put behind. And it’s just so much fun. It is. You’re laughing hysterically. People are waiting to see what the next picture is going to be as Joe is drawing as fast as he can. And we are just having an absolute blast.
So we’re trying to bring some of that excitement to the pod as well because the live shows are just … you laugh, you belly laugh for an hour at what voices people are doing, and some little kids will get up and do it.
Christy: Yeah, it’s pretty wild.
Will: Just absolute ton of fun. It’s really a ton of fun.
Nerds and Beyond: I feel obligated to bring this up because I’m a lifelong fan, but you guys celebrated the 20th anniversary of Kim Possible on the podcast, had a whole cast reunion, and even acted out a new, original scene. From a fan perspective, it was like I was seven years old again and watching the series for the first time. What was it like getting to revisit such a beloved series with a little spin on it?
Christy: It was pretty cool. First is getting everyone in — scheduling everybody was so hard. I was like, “We’re not going to get them, we’re not going to get them,” and I’m not even that negative of a person. But I just feel like there’s been so many near misses where we’ve tried to do comic cons with everybody, and that hasn’t worked out. But when it came to this it was like, “No, if we do it, I bet you they’ll get behind us.” And sure enough … Nicole Sullivan was amazing.
Will: Johnny DiMaggio, just everyone, our creators.
Christy: It was like no time had passed! It was like, “What happened to the last 20 years?” We were right back at it. It was very cool. Very cool.
Will: It was very cool. It was a great way to spend the morning with good friends, talented people, going back to characters that meant so much to us. You had this big grin on your face the whole day. It was great.
Christy: We actually interviewed everybody, didn’t we? We interviewed everybody; we brought everybody. You could see it on YouTube and enjoy it there so that you could actually see our faces.
Nerds and Beyond: Would you want to reunite again, maybe for like an actual reboot series in the future?
Christy: I think everybody voiced their desire for that right when we were doing that. Very passionate about that happening.
Will: Yes! I don’t know how else to say it. We had so much fun doing it that doing it again would be a blast. And that’s the joy of being a voiceover actor is unless your voice radically changes, you can always just go back. You can go back into your character again like that, and then you’re right back in it. So, man.
Nerds and Beyond: Aside from I Hear Voices, you each have other podcasts that you co-host. Christy with Vulnerable and Will with Pod Meets World. How different is the process of those two, considering all three of those podcasts are very different from each other?
Christy: Okay, Will, I’m really interested in what you have to say.
Will: What, how Pod Meets World is different than I Hear Voices?
Will: So, I Hear Voices, we’re kind of creating all the content out of a whole cloth. We’re booking the guests, we’re writing Across the Garden, we’re booking amateurs; it’s much more interactive. Pod Meets World is based on Boy Meets World, so we can go back and look at that material that we have already and kind of talk about that. I imagine Christy would say the same thing about Vulnerable, but I’ll let her answer. Pod Meets World is much more emotionally draining because we’re unpacking a lot of mostly fun, but we’re being honest about the entire process of what it was like to do Boy Meets World, and not all of it was amazing. Not all of that holds up.
Whereas I Hear Voices, it’s just fun. We’re just having a fun time speaking to actors. I love them both because Danielle [Fishel] and Rider [Strong] are two of my closest friends, my best friends in the world, and always will be, and I couldn’t imagine rewatching Boy Meets World and going through that journey with anybody but those two. So to do that, and to bring everybody back on the show, and interview everybody has been amazing. But there’s times where we’ve had several episodes where we’re in tears. It’s definitely more emotionally draining than I Hear Voices is, but they’re both so rewarding in different ways.
Christy: Yeah, Vulnerable is, like you said, a more emotionally charged podcast. It’s about mental health, specifically, and then my guests range from anywhere, from activist Blair Imani to a woman that’s currently, Elena, who’s in Ukraine, working in an orphanage, holding orphans, and she’s an American there. Then I’ll have Alyson Stoner come on and talk about child actor advocacy, and the tones are completely different. But I will say that there’s nothing like having that kind of creative freedom to make content that you stand behind. And there’s merit in what we’re doing with I Hear Voices because, again, we’re giving support to all these actors.
I’ve seen Tara Strong and E.G. Daily, who are icons in the industry, get passed over. Actually, I just saw on Facebook before this interview that E.G. was nominated for an Annie, and she’s like, “I’ve literally been nominated so many times and never won an Annie,” which is an animation voiceover award. And these people, they deserve so much more support because they are the voices of our youths and our most favorite cinematic moments, whether it’s animation or not. So it’s really great to honor them as well and sort of just expand that community.
Nerds and Beyond: We are running out of time, so I just wanted to shoot some rapid-fire questions at you guys real quick. What’s your favorite lightsaber color?
Christy: What does that even mean?
Will: I’m trying to make Christy more of a nerd.
Christy: I think we talked about this. What do we talk about?
Will: I would normally tell you my favorite lightsaber color was blue, but in reality, it’s red.
Christy: Red means you’re bad, right?
Will: Not necessarily. It just means you’re a Sith. We’ll get into the whole detail of whether that makes you bad or good later. But it just means you’re a Sith.
Christy: Can I have like an ombre one?
Nerds and Beyond: Yes!
Christy: Like, blue, red. If I’m really mad, it’s like red. Okay.
Nerds and Beyond: Okay, well, here are some less nerdy ones. Does pineapple belong on pizza?
Christy: Not really, no.
Nerds and Beyond: Good! I feel the same way. Favorite Girl Scout cookie?
Will: Thin Mints.
Christy: Okay, I hear you for Thin Mints, but honestly, that coconutty one. The Samoan one. Is it Samoas? Okay. Now I’m thirsty; now I’m like salivating.
Will: My wife knows that I do not like mint but Thin Mints in the freezer? Forget it.
Christy: But, Will, they literally at Costco have Thin Mint Girl Scout cookie-covered almonds.
Will: I know.
Christy: You already know this? All the Thin Mints.
Nerds and Beyond: All right, then one last one. What was your favorite show growing up?
Christy: Oh, man. I know his.
Christy: I’m just gonna say something different. I really, really enjoyed Powerpuff Girls. I’d like to say that it kind of was in my subconscious while I was making Kim just because of the energy and the vibrancy and like that informed me that I needed to really bring my A-game when it came to Kim. So I’m gonna go ahead and say that.
Nerds and Beyond: Well, thank you so much.
Will: Thank you for having us; we appreciate it. And don’t forget, if I could just push it really quickly. January 9 through February 9 at firstname.lastname@example.org. Submit a up to two-minute either video or audio, to join the super awesome contest to become the next big voice actor; the prize is insane; you get an agent, you come out to LA; it’s amazing.
Christy: The money!
Will: The money! We’d love to have you join. The more, the merrier. We are going to find a colleague, so come join our contest!
Christy: Come get your big break. We’ll tell your friends that we know you have a good voice too. That’s important. Spread the word!
We’d like to thank Christy Carlson Romano and Will Friedle for taking the time to chat with us! Listen to their podcast, I Hear Voices, now on Apple Podcasts and wherever you can get podcasts. Check out their Instagram for all the information on the contest to become the next big voiceover actor! You can submit any time between now and February 9 via email@example.com!