Portia Scott, Director of Voiceover at Coast To Coast Talent Group, Shares Her Behind-the-Mic Secrets

By Ramin Zahed
September 2, 2022

Portia Scott, the director of voiceover at Coast To Coast Talent Group, is responsible for leading the division representing both adult and youth talent in all areas of voiceover. Her clients have secured voice roles in Raya and the Last Dragon, Over the Moon The Mitchells vs. the Machines, Toy Story 4, Abominable, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Cars 3, Inside Out and Rise of the Guardian. Scott both created and co-authored, alongside Melique Berger, a curriculum of technique and performance courses for university, baccalaureate and Master’s degree programs and performance conservatories, placing voiceover at the forefront of the discipline of study.

We had a chance to chat with Scott about the booming field of voice acting for animation and the importance of true representation and diversity in the animation business today:

Animation Magazine: Can you tell us a little bit about your background and how you came to Coast to Coast Talent Group?

Portia Scott: Prior to working as an agent I was and actress, and moved into casting. While waiting for my next show to start, I started temping at an agency and by the end of the week, CESD offered me the VO Agent position. From there I moved on to ACME Talent (now closed) and in 2008, I moved on to Coast To Coast Talent Group as Director of Voiceover. I’ve been a VO agent almost 25 years.

Who are some of best-known clients right now and which shows do you work on?

My client list includes Benni Latham (Transformers EarthSpark, Nickelodeon/Paramount), Izabella Alvarez (The Casagrandes, The Loud House), Carson Minniear & Mica Zeltzer (Pupstruction, Disney TV Animation), Brianna Bryan (Blue’s Clues & You, Nickelodeon; Rainbow Puppy), Lucia Cunningham (Jessica on Craig of the Creek,Cartoon Network —  she has a spin off series coming, Jessica’s Big Little World, 2023), Izaac Wang (Sam in Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai, Sony/HBO Max), Titus Blake (Batwheels, Warner Bros./HBO Max), Melique Berger (Belinda, Bonnie and Chef Bea on The Cuphead Show!, Netflix; Spidey and His Amazing Friends, Disney), Abigail Zoe Lewis (Firebuds, 101 Dalmatian Street, Disney) and Isabella Abiera (Hazel in Infinity Train, Cartoon Network/HBO).

What is your take on the current environment for people of color in the voiceover industry? Are things looking better now than they did, say, five years ago?

I would certainly say the silver lining in the pandemic and social uprising of 2020 has made a huge difference in bringing awareness to the studios, producers and creators in creating diverse characters and stories. In my almost 25-year career, I’ve never seen as diverse of BIPOC clients working on animated content in leading, supporting and utility capacity as I do now. Now, studios specifically state there is a mandate to hire more BIPOC talent, as well as actively look for voice directors and other areas where there is a lack of ethnic representation.

From Society of Voice Arts and Sciences

Where does the industry still need to grow and improve?

I think the industry as a whole would benefit from hiring diversity all around, to learn different points of view in broadening overall creative awareness and telling new and old stories from a different lens. Diverse hiring from the Executive to creative, for both the buyers and sellers. How many BIPOC people are able to green light projects? As far as I know, and perhaps maybe one other, I’m the only Black VO agent in the industry. Growth happens by hiring BIPOC!

What kind of advice do you offer your clients who want to book big roles in cartoons?

The number one advice I give: engage in VO training and VO workout groups. Understand how to prepare for your auditions so they are competitive, have a full understanding of the character, ask your actors questions and know the brand of the animation/studio. Make sure your home studio is competitive and up to date! ©Method on the Mic – The Actors Toolkit/Art of the Pivot is a technique and performance program that helps actors create solid character work!

The pandemic had a big impact on the industry in terms of actors and content producers being able to work from their home..is that trend continuing in 2022?

Yes, I no longer think it’s a trend and I think it’s more the new normal. Auditions are widely recorded from home and often the animation guest roles are going right to booking and recording from the actor’s home studio. In fact, I had a client session to record a remote session in ensemble last week. I think it’s great, as I now have clients around the world!

From Society of Voice Arts and Sciences

When did you decide to get into this business? What was the animated show or movie that made the biggest impact on you?

I started my career as a VO agent 24 years ago. I’ve had many clients in successful animated series and films. Two projects specifically come to mind — one is with Mackenzie Foy, The Little Prince directed by Mark Osborne, based on the classic book. The storytelling in this film was beautiful and heartwarming, and touched me in a special way. Although the film wasn’t critically acclaimed, it holds a special place in my heart.

Second is the booking of the Craig of the Creek role of Jessica, played by Lucia Cunningham. This is special on a personal side;  I was at my uncle’s funeral (my mother, his sister had just passed 30 days previously) and observed this precocious and gregarious five-year-old girl, bossing all of the kids around — even the teenagers! I got to know her parents and wanted to get her into the business. I told them to wait until she turned six (labor law best) — on the following work day, I received a casting for a five-year-old girl, who is bossy! Long story short, Lucia auditioned and booked without a callback! Something very rare for 2017 VO. I have to think the spirit of my mother and uncle played a part in this booking! Lucia’s has done such an amazing job that the network has written a spin off, Jessica’s Little Big World.

What is the most important thing animation producers need to know about hiring diverse voice talent for their projects?

Stay open and listen for the unique point of view diverse talent can bring to a role.