In 2013 Larissa Thompson began her on screen acting career in the Calgary indie film scene and played the role of “Gwen” in the first season of the award-winning web-series “One Hit Die”. Now, she’s co-producing the web series “S.H.A.M. Therapy”, where she plays constant cos-player Taylor Smith.
Larissa’s first television performance in “Untold Stories of the E.R. – Beyond Recognition”, aired Saturday, February 13, 2016 on TLC.
She is also a narrator for “The Centropic Oracle” – a short Sci-Fi/Fantasy audiobook podcast.
Larissa now resides in Vancouver, B.C. and is represented by Hank Bourque at Cue Agency.
Talking with Larissa Thompson
Sci-Fi & Scary: Can you tell us a bit about The Centropic Oracle which you are a narrator for?
Larissa Thompson: The Centropic Oracle is a science fiction and fantasy short story audio magazine. Not only am I a narrator for it, but I’m also a co-founder and the Producer. Together with Charly Thompson – who is also the editor – we decided to make a magazine that was friendlier and more accessible to writers, and really showcased the artists who create and tell these stories. Each contributor – writers and narrators – get a page on our website which includes a donate button and a list of their available credits so our audience can learn more about them.
Sci-Fi & Scary: How did you get into doing voice-overs and narrating?
Larissa Thompson: I started as an actor, and it just seemed like the next logical step. A few years ago I booked a couple of narration jobs for corporate and educational videos, and I loved the process. So when Charly and I got into discussing what kind of project we would work on together, it was just such a natural blend of our skills that it only made sense to start down that path. Since then, I’ve been expanding my demo reels and will soon start reaching out to agents to pursue voice acting in a professional context.
Sci-Fi & Scary: Has there ever been a scene you’ve been uncomfortable narrating?
Larissa Thompson: So far I’ve been lucky on that front. Every scene I’ve read has had it’s own challenges though – anything from a really difficult word to pronounce to perfecting a particular character’s voice. Some of them have really forced me to stretch and grow as a performer, and I’m so thankful for that opportunity.
Sci-Fi & Scary: Is there a particular book you would absolutely love to have a chance to narrate?
Larissa Thompson: My favourite YA novel as a child was a book called East, written by Edith Pattou. It’s a fantastic tale of a curious and adventurous girl who travels to an impossible place to atone for her mistake. There are many sections of the book where the story is told from another character’s perspective, and I think it would be a lot of fun to play with those different character’s voices – especially the one of the talking polar bear!
Sci-Fi & Scary: What kind of direction, if any, are you given when it comes to doing voiceover work?
Larissa Thompson: For The Centropic Oracle, I’m pretty self-directed. Charly will sometimes give me feedback and suggestions but I make most of the creative decisions with my performance. I read the piece at least three times before I start to record (more if it seems particularly challenging), and let the natural tone and theme of the piece direct my acting choices. The protagonist’s age, emotion, and energy level also plays a huge part in how I perform, so I take careful note of all those facets and do my best to infuse my work with them.
Sci-Fi & Scary: I see from your résumé that you have 4 accents listed: Canadian, American, Yiddish, Minnesotan. Are you working on learning more accents? What’s the process for that?
Larissa Thompson: I believe any voice actor should be constantly trying to improve their skill, and accents are a major part of that. Right now, I’m working on getting my Scottish to sound more consistent, and I’m also toying around with a generic Eastern European accent.
I mostly just play around by ear, but I do use International Dialects of English Archive as a reference point. It has recordings of every accented English dialect from across the globe, and it’s a valuable tool in figuring out the characteristics of an accent. Once I have a basic understanding of the sound of an accent, I’ll talk to myself and try to match what I’ve heard.
By far the most fun accent I learned was Yiddish, because the way the throat and tongue interact is so wildly different from my own Canadian accent.
Sci-Fi & Scary: Could you ever see yourself going solely into voice-acting?
Larissa Thompson: “Solely” isn’t quite the right word for me – I love voice acting and I want to do it and make enough money to be a working actor, but I also want to act on screen and produce films.
Sci-Fi & Scary: What’s your favorite podcast that you listen to?
Larissa Thompson: I really enjoy PodCastle and EscapePod (they’re both produced by the same group, so I consider them one podcast), because of the variety of narrators they’ve brought to their recordings. You can hear some really interesting voices, and I’d love to have an opportunity to record a piece for them.
Sci-Fi & Scary: Are you super protective of your voice now?
Larissa Thompson: I recently had the misfortune of losing my voice for about two weeks because of a nasty cough, and it’s made me take my vocal health much more seriously. Hydrating, vocal warm-ups throughout the day (especially on a recording day), and not straining the vocal chords are essential, but I don’t think I can bring myself to drink some of the concoctions that I’ve heard about from other VO artists!
Sci-Fi & Scary: What’s your favourite kind of voice over work?
Larissa Thompson: I love performing audiobooks, because of the variety of characters and stories, but I’m also really interested in performing character voices for video games – it’s a medium I’ve always loved, and to hear my voice in a game would be so cool.
Sci-Fi & Scary: And, finally, what on-screen project are you currently involved in? Or what’s coming up?
Larissa Thompson: I recently produced and acted in a web series with a group of actor friends. It was a fun experience, and we’re busy working on the next batch of episodes. It’s a sit-com called “S.H.A.M. Therapy”, about two therapists who open the first therapy office in a small town and meet some of the weird people who live there. You can watch the pilot here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=etmV990JiUY
Want to get in touch with Larissa or see/hear more of her work?
Centropic Oracle: http://centropicoracle.com