Updated: Oct 1, 2020
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In life’s journey, we must seek to reflect, learn, and grow. Welcome to the Road to Rediscovery, with your host, Aubrey Johnson.
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Aubrey Johnson: Wherever you are, good morning, good afternoon, good evening, and welcome to the Road to Rediscovery. I’m your host, Aubrey Johnson. It’s so great to have you on the journey with me. The Road to Rediscovery is about reflecting on life’s lessons, to learn and grow from them, and to take it to the next level, and help others who are struggling through dark times.
My special guest was born in Hollywood and didn’t have to go far to pursue her career as an award-winning on-camera and voiceover actress. Known for her voice work in The Land Before Time series, she’s done scores of radio and TV commercials and has starred in TV series and films such as Without a Trace; Sabrina, the Teenage Witch; The Muppets; and much, much more. You’re in for a treat.
We’re going to learn more about her journey, landmarks and milestones, and what’s in store for her on the road ahead. Let’s give a warm welcome to Aria Noelle Curzon. Aria, welcome to the show. Yay! How are you doing?
Aria Noelle Curzon: I’m doing about as well as you can expect. I’m doing pretty well, and I’m lucky and blessed right now in these times. How are you?
Aubrey: Thank you for asking. I’m doing great. I am just so glad to have connected with you so that we can talk and share a glimpse of who you are, what your journey is, and where you’re going with the listeners and some of those tremendous nuggets of knowledge and lessons that you’ve learned in your journey. I’m thrilled to have you, and I’m doing great. Thank you.
Aubrey: Let’s learn about Aria. You were born and raised in Southern California. Is that right?
Aria: That is correct.
Aubrey: Awesome. Can you share with the listeners how did you get started into acting?
Aria: Well, let’s go to the beginning. I remember being pretty young, and I was really into Shirley Temple and other cute shows like that when I was a kid. People would compare me to her with my curly hair, and I was a little blonde kid. It was suggested that maybe my parents should try to get me into commercials. My parents are both performers in their own right; they’re musicians for the most part. My mom took the bull by the horns and started looking around for agencies in the phone book. It was way back then.
When I was four or five, she was able to get a couple of meetings with some agents. I got representation pretty quickly. I was very lucky, and I started auditioning, and very quickly got a fair amount of work in commercials, and then transitioned, not entirely, but started in the voiceover world because I could read, and I had a fairly unique voice for a child, and I was pretty articulate. I just went from there. Did I answer the question?
Aubrey: You did. In fact, I think you even answered the next question, which was how did you crossover into voice acting. Yeah. Is there anything more you have to add to that as far as making that crossover into the voice acting? You were still doing on-camera stuff, I’m sure.
Aubrey: But this was an added skillset. Is that right?
Aria: Exactly, yeah. Back then, the agents had different departments for every part of the industry modeling, commercials, film, voiceover. My agents, who were sending me out for other things, things started coming up in voiceover that they thought of me for. They were like, “Maybe we should get her in.” I talked to my mom, got it, and we went for it. One of my very first roles that I auditioned for and booked was the iconic role – I’m very proud of this one – the iconic role of Pebbles Flintstone for a Hanna-Barbera’s series called Cave Kids.
Aria: I got to do six or eight episodes when I was six years old. I forget how many now. I was quite a big splash into the animation world because I got to go to Hanna-Barbera Studios, which has an iconic history with the Flintstones and Jetsons, and all of their hundreds of shows probably. I got to meet Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera. It was a very cool experience.
Just from there, it blossomed naturally. I would be sent out quite a lot. I don’t remember because I was a kid. I don’t really remember how much I auditioned versus booked, but I think I was working pretty consistently. Then I got, when I was eight years old, that’s when the role of Ducky came around from The Land Before Time.
They already had a bunch of auditions. I wasn’t even going to go in for it, but we found out that it was happening through another friend who auditioned. My agent put her neck out there for me and got me an audition. She was like, “This is the girl, and she’s the one.” I don’t know why she believed in me so much when I was eight years old, but she was really great. I still know her to this day. Her name is LJ. I went in, and I got the role, and it’s been 20 years of doing that voice. So, it was a good one.
Aubrey: Amazing. Tremendous. What an experience and an exciting experience. I personally am a huge Hanna-Barber fan. I grew up watching the Flintstones and grew up watching the Jetsons, and Yogi, and all those guys. And to be able to go to the studios and meet the creators. Right? The ones whose names are out there for the branding of that animation. That’s tremendous. Wow!
Aria: Actually, I have something that relates to this. I can show it to you real quick.
Aubrey: Okay, yeah. Please do.
Aria: I can’t believe these are on my walls, but this is an original animation cel that they gave to me back then from the show.
Aria: I love these things. I got so obsessed with animation cels as a kid because of that. This is how old I was. These are pictures of me with Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera. That’s how old it was.
Aubrey: No way. That is amazing. Look at that.
Aria: Joe Barbera had the coolest office. It was full of toys, and you could tell it was an animator’s mobile office.
Aubrey: For sure. I bet. Man! That is awesome! Thank you so much for sharing that.
Aria: Yeah. No problem.
Aubrey: Those are Pebbles and Bamm Bamm, iconic characters in an iconic show that really changed things way back when it first started. To be a part of that is something to be very proud of. I appreciate you sharing that. When it comes to the journey that you’ve had thus far – well, let’s not say thus far, but let’s say in the early days. I’m assuming, based on your career early in life, to say that you’ve had a traditional childhood would be kind of modest. You’ve had more than something outside of a traditional childhood. Is that accurate?
Aria: Yeah. I suppose that could be said. It’s taken growing up and looking back on it because, as a kid, it all felt normal to me, and my parents, I think, did a good job at keeping me grounded and focused on what matters in life more than just fame and success. To me, it always felt like a fun afterschool activity or sports or anything any other kid would do.
But, yeah. There was definitely that dynamic of having been on TV and that difference that creates feeling with your peers, maybe who haven’t been on TV. But I was always in and out of regular school, so I got a good feel for that. I was also homeschooled on and off. That was outside of the normal experience. Yeah, overall, I feel like I was protected pretty well from the more negative sides of Hollywood. I think I came out of it okay, in the end.
Aubrey: Yeah, that’s awesome. That’s great, and it’s beautiful. I love hearing that because I’ve heard some stories, documentaries. I don’t know how true they are, about people who start in entertainment in Hollywood at a young age, and as they get older, go a certain path. That path may be a little deviated from the original plan.
Because there are pockets of that, I would believe, in Hollywood, as it would be in anything else, it can be a slippery slope. It could be easy to go in that direction, especially when you start feeling the fruits of fame, and fortune, and that sort of thing. It was awesome to hear that your parents kept you grounded. You have a great sense of humility about you and just grateful for the opportunities that you had and continue to have.
Coming out on the other side, squeaky clean and shiny, that’s a beautiful thing. So, how about routines? When it came to your scheduling and routines, I would imagine your parents would have kept you on a pretty steady routine that wasn’t too outside of what a normal child would go through like when it comes to brushing your teeth, going to bed, having supper, playing with friends, and that sort of thing.
Aria: Yeah, absolutely. Even when I was homeschooled, I never was starved for interaction with people. We had a good family life, and we would often do dinners together. I don’t remember how strict my bedtime was because I was raised as an only child. You know, that wiggle room – you try to fight for it sometimes.
Yeah, for the most part, I was lucky when I was a kid to be able to explore a lot of interests. I was always doing an art class or a dance class or horseback riding or ice skating. Maybe that was a little bit outside of a routine, but there were times where it was the same, and I’d have to do those things every week on whatever day that was. It would be some sort of long-term routine.
I will say that practically as an addendum or an additional thing to your prior question, just because I was lucky enough to come out fairly unscathed, whatever documentaries you’ve seen probably have a lot of truth to them because I’ve certainly seen plenty of colleagues and peers who go all kinds of different ways.
Aubrey: I understand. I appreciate you sharing that as well. That’s something that reaffirms what I’ve watched. I’d love to talk about, let’s say the voiceover piece. I dabble in voiceover just a little bit. The prior area that I came from, which is Cincinnati, Ohio, I had representation; in fact, I still do for voiceover projects with clients that I’ve worked with over the years. And I’ve done on-camera stuff too.
Again, from the mid-west, very low visibility, nothing national. I’ve done some regional stuff. It’s a passion of mine that I’ve had since 2001. I’ve done a lot of reading on voiceover before taking the plunge to actually get into the networking with people and creative directors and all that sort of thing. One of the things that I’ve learned when it came to voiceover is that – let’s say, rewind back to the ‘70s or the ‘80s.
From what I’ve understood, back in those years, in those times, voiceover was considered an afterthought-type of gig, almost secondary to on-screen acting when it came to commercials, TV shows, films, and that sort of thing. But then, as you fast-forward 10, 15, 20, 25 years, with the advancement of technology, with the advancement of animated movies, and now it’s not just Disney that’s the king of the hill, so to speak. Then Pixar comes in and a bunch of others.
Now, you have big names, A-listers, that are being asked and willingly participating their voice in movies. Think of Tom Hanks in Toy Story, Mike Myers, and Eddie Murphy in Shrek, and that sort of thing. With the big-name animated films, you’ve voiced like with Pebbles and with The Land Before Time, does what I just explained represent some of the things that you may have had to contend with when it came to auditioning and getting parts?
Aria: Absolutely. I’ve definitely seen that evolution myself. Being pretty aware of what the industry was like in the early ‘90s when I started, you’re right. The voiceover world was completely separate. The voiceover stars were voiceover stars, and then movie stars were movie stars. There was what seemed like a lot more work because it was like this tier at the top. Voiceover people were doing the biggest roles, and everybody else was taking in what was left.
Now, when the celebrities come in and take the big ones, it’s like the top guys are doing the second supporting roles. I’ve definitely seen that dynamic at play, but in the same token, as you said, there’s a lot more being produced now. There are a lot more opportunities and content that need talent. As a friend of mine, Rob said, “When a higher tide raises all boats,” or something like that, “there’s more opportunity, and everybody can find it.”
Aubrey: Oh, for sure. There’s a lot of work for everyone. Right?
Aubrey: Especially now, with the different types of modalities of voiceover. There are audiobooks now, and podcasting as we know, the voice recordings for companies, and that sort of thing. There are tons to be had out there for those wanting to dabble in the voiceover world, for sure. Thanks for sharing that with us, Aria. I much appreciate it.
You’ve won awards, and you’ve landed big parts on TV and in movies – all big achievements where one can say, “The scent is sweet.” Are there any poignant times in your career where you feel you kind of fell short but took to heart in learning from that experience? Is there anything like that that you can share?
Aria: Wow. That’s an interesting question. You mean within the context of a job or a role?
Aubrey: Well, yeah, and in any context, basically. Maybe there is a part that you received, but you, in your heart of hearts, may not have felt that you’ve played out that role to your fullest potential. Or maybe it was something you were hoping to get that you didn’t. In any capacity in your career, is there any event like that that happened?
Aria: I can see that being true in multiple ways, actually. A lot of artists, I think, are somewhat perfectionists, and I could listen to just about any role or watch anything I’ve done and be like, “Ah, man. Why did I do that? I shouldn’t have done that.” Maybe it’s the editor’s choice, or maybe it was just me, but with a fine-tooth comb, you could go through just about anything in life and maybe wish you would have done it a little differently. But as far as a specific example – hum.
There were a couple of roles I wish I would have gotten, even small ones like a small part in the Titanic. I would have been fine with it. “Go now, and don’t live for all those people.” There was this other one. There have been times that I think every actor has this – you blow an audition. You just know it in your soul. You weren’t prepared, or you’re thinking of something else, and it’s something you really were excited about. Somehow the stars just don’t align. Some actors who are good actors are not good auditioners. That can be its own challenge. But one of the roles that I really wanted was actually not a voiceover role. It was something I had never done before. Are you familiar with Princess and the Frog, Disney?
Aubrey: Yeah, slightly, but yeah. I am familiar with it.
Aria: That’s one of my favorite Disney movies. I just love it. I was going to audition for the live-action part of the role Charlotte, where I would be acting out the scene for the animators to animate.
Aubrey: Oh, really?
Aria: Yeah. I wanted that job so badly, but I didn’t get it. That’s not really a genre or part of the industry that I think many people are aware of, that there are actors who will do the scenes so that the animators can make it more realistic.
Aubrey: I was wondering if they did the Lion King like that because that’s my favorite Disney film. Like when it comes to – I’m going to go slightly off-topic, but you’ll see why. I’ll get back to it. When it comes to video games, from a technology standpoint, I understand that a lot of these electronic art sports, they will have an athlete, say in a certain suit with lights on their body on the suit making movements so that they can capture those movements digitally to have on the game. So, I’m thinking it’s something similar to that for the physical movements to capture in the animation for Disney’s part. Is that right?
Aria: Yeah. Is it TGI? There’s a word for it. I should know it: motion capture.
Aubrey: Yeah. I think it may be motion capture, for sure. Yeah.
Aria: I think it’s strictly associated with digital animation, but as far as I know, the Princess and the Frog was actually still hand-drawn. Don’t quote me on that, but the way it looks to me, it looks hand-drawn. I think it was still more of the old fashioned – if you look up Alice in Wonderland, there are side-by-side examples of the actors who did the voice, acting out the scenes like the Mad Hatter, and he’s doing all this stuff, and they put it right next to the animation, and it’s the same. I think it’s gone back a while, this thing, even before the digital motion-capture stuff.
Aubrey: Oh, nice. Gotcha. That definitely makes sense. I know you auditioned for that; you really wanted it and didn’t get it, but one thing I’ve learned, at least in my, again, brief exposure to being a talent is – and I know, and I believe every actor goes by this mantra. We try to give it our best and give it our all on the auditions; although some of us may not be good auditioners, I consider myself not that good of an auditioner, but the old adage is, when you’re auditioning for a part, you’re not, you’re not really auditioning for that part per se, not only that part, but you’re also auditioning for future parts and future roles of future productions down the line because the producer or whoever makes the decision may say, “Hum. They’re not quite who I had in mind for this, but they would be spot-on for that.”
Aubrey: Has that been a common mindset for yourself or for your peers, or other actors?
Aria: Oh, yeah. I’ve heard that directly from many casting directors and from people that I’ve worked with. Casting directors absolutely keep people in mind because it helps make their job easier, too, instead of having to go through 1,000 people, “Oh, wow. I remember that guy with the deep voice. Now we need that. He wasn’t right for the little insect character, but now he’s right for the giant, or whatever.”
I know people who have auditioned for things, and years later, they get a call because someone remembered them. It’s always good to be positively memorable and be unique, too, because uniqueness helps you stand out. If you’re like everybody, then you don’t have many other options.
Aubrey: Yeah. So true. 100%. What have you learned so far about yourself throughout this journey?
Aria: Oh, wow. That’s a good question. That could take hours to answer, but I think I’ve learned a lot about growing up from that place – having a lot of success as a kid doesn’t necessarily set you up for being an adult and the challenges and things that will arise and the self-determination that it’s going to take to transition through that period.
Also, being a kid actor, I would say then being a friendly, life-loving kid in general, I was pretty much a people-pleaser. I’ve had to learn over many, many years how to have some better boundaries and say no if I need to say no, and that’s just a constant journey. But I’ve also learned that this whole acting thing is pretty much in my soul to some degree because even when I take breaks or don’t think about it for a while, there’s always something there that comes alive when I get the opportunity to be creative like that.
Aubrey: Very nice. What is the best advice you have received in your career?
Aria: Best advice? I would say to treat everybody well. Treat the second AP, assistant person, just as well as you would the executive producers. It’s kind of a negative way of putting it, but someone said, “People you meet on the way up are going to be the same ones that you see on the way down.”
Aubrey: They’ve said that. Yeah. I’ve heard that too.
Aria: So, no matter what happens, no matter how hard you try in life, you’re going to get what’s meant for you, and some things are not going to be meant for you. Changing your nature as a person or disregarding others during the process is not going to pay off in the long run.
Aubrey: For sure, it’s not. Some may acknowledge success, the term success, as reaching a target or a goal or a significant milestone in their lives. I personally believe in my heart of hearts that success is more about the direction that you’re headed and not so much a destination. That’s my own personal feel for the word itself and what it means at its truest essence. How does Aria define success?
Aria: It’s a really great question. I was seeing something recently that was talking about how you see the before picture and the after picture, and it’s never before and after. It’s before and during because once you get to that after, you have to keep living, and you have to keep growing, and you have to maintain it too. Something like a physical goal, or whatever it is.
Success, to me, is definitely a mindset that every day you’re going to use what you have to do what you can on whatever level that means for you. It’s seeing the bigger picture because sometimes when you’re trudging through, like every day, and you’re not seeing any big growth, or you’re not seeing any big accomplishments, it can feel like, “Why am I even doing this?” But if you look back over five years, you’ll be able to see how far you’ve come. Just remember that you can get just as far again in another five years and that there’s always something to work toward and continue growing. That’s success to me.
Aubrey: That’s right. Continuous improvement, continuous growth. 100%. Sweet. What’s next for Aria? What’s down the road for Aria?
Aria: Well, that’s something I’m discovering every day. I am engaged. My fiancé is a violinist.
Aria: Thank you. He’s really incredible. His name is Alex DePue, if anybody wants to look him up. He’s highly trained. I’m just telling you because we also performed together. Part of what I’ve done in my life is music, as well, singing and dancing, so when I’ve been seen with him sometimes when he has a gig, which hasn’t happened in several months now because of the world at this moment. We are working on things together. I am still putting my hat in the ring for voiceover. I have a home studio, so hopefully, you’ll be seeing or hearing me in some future projects, but nothing at this moment.
Aubrey: Hey, that’s another beauty of voiceover. In the world we live in today, with the pandemic and everything, there’s still an opportunity to land gigs. You can always remote in, have a home studio, not necessarily physically in the same room as someone. You can do the gig practicing social distancing, I guess, is what I’m saying.
Aria: It’s been like that since the start. It’s the perfect job.
Aubrey: Yeah, it totally is. And I agree with you because I still have several clients that I have established relationships with from doing gigs back in Cincinnati five years ago before I moved. I still have connections with them, and every now and again, when they want some refreshed work, they reach out to me, and we have that equity; we have that history together. That’s a good thing to have. It truly is.
Aria: From that relationship, they know they can trust you, and you’ll deliver a quality product. So, absolutely.
Aubrey: Right on. Aria, I really, really, really want my listeners to know how they can connect with you or follow you or learn more about you, keep up-to-date in the different projects you’re working on. How can the listeners learn more about you?
Aria: Let me figure out where to start. I am on Facebook, of course. I have a fan page, which is – I think it’s facebook.com/arianoellecurzonfans. It’s kind of long, but maybe you and link it or something. I’m on Instagram as AriaNoelleCurzonOfficial, I believe. I was going to put all my names in there. It’s a lot to remember. I’m on Twitter, but I don’t tweet that often. You can keep up with me right here on the Road to Rediscovery.
Aubrey: How about that! That is awesome. Yes, the Instagram and the Facebook links, we will definitely put those in the show notes so that our listeners can directly click from those links in the show notes to get to your social medias.
Aria: I remembered one thing. I was going to be doing my very first convention this fall in September in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. It’s going to be the Harrisburg Comic & Pop Con. It’s been canceled, for obvious reasons, but I just want to say that I would love to do conventions, and apparently, the way people get called for those is when people start requesting them. So, if anybody’s out there, and you know of a convention coming up, and you want to meet me, make sure to write to that person and let them know.
Aubrey: Okay, for sure. I will definitely pass that along. And listeners, you’ve heard it right now, live, or live/recorded. Keep your eyes peeled for any conventions that are out there, and I’m more than happy to let you know of any that I know of as well, Aria. All right. Man! This has been a great conversation. I have been thrilled to learn so much about you and your journey, the things that you’ve learned on your journey. Thank you for sharing it with the listeners, Aria.
Now, we’re going to go to a segment I like to call 3 for the Road, and that’s where I challenge my guests by asking three random, yet thought-provoking questions that I challenge you to answer in five words or less. So, what do you think? Do you think you might be up for it?
Aria: I will give it my all.