Shiraz Adam wasn’t even 10 years old when he landed the voicing role of Esteban in The Mysterious Cities Of Gold. Here, he tells us all about it…
How did you get the job of voicing Esteban? How old were you at thetime?
At the start of the series I was around 9 years old I think. At the time, I was part of a theatre school who were approached by directors from time to time looking for young actors. My name was forwarded to the director for this show and I was called in for an audition.
What happened next?
Basically we were asked to read some text, which went along with the animation. There were several rounds of auditions I remember, and initially I never imagined I would ever get the part. But as the rounds of auditions progressed I grew increasingly excited. In the end I ended up getting the part for Esteban.
Did you have to watch the programme first?
There was no requirement of viewing the series prior to recording it.
How did the recording work then?
Everything thing was done in sections. Each episode was split into sections. The director would organise the recording sequence of the sections to maximize the utility of the actors during their time in the studio. In other words, the director would organize a recording sequence which grouped together sections which had the same characters speaking in them.
On the recording day, there would be a “casting call” for the actors playing those characters, sometimes there would be six of us, sometime three, sometimes only me. The recording room was dark and the animation would be projected on the front screen. When the director would decide to do a particular section, they would advance – or reverse – the animation and audio to that specific section. We would then listen to it in French first then we would record the lines and play it again to make sure it was good. There would be a few audio tracks available sothat some characters could be recorded independently.
So to answer your question the actors did see the show in some ways yes, but we saw them in non-sequential bits with gaps missing for each episode. As one of the main characters, I rarely saw – if ever – an entire episode from beginning to end completely.
Fortunately when I was doing the voice-overs, it was being broadcast in French, and I was an avid watcher. I was a huge fan of the show – even before being offered the part of Esteban. As a kid it sparked my imagination in Mayan, Incan, Aztec and Olmec histories and the possibilities of ancient forgotten knowledge. It drove me to read a great deal about the histories of the Conquistadors and these ancient civilizations.
Did you all get to record your lines together?
Not always, but I think I always enjoyed the energy/ group dynamicwhen we were all present. It was a lot more fun!
You didn’t stay in acting/voice work afterwards. So what are you up to now?
That’s correct – I left the theatrical world when I finished high school. Right now I am an Engineer.
And finally, is the show something you get asked about often?
Actually, few people knew that I was in The Mysterious Cities Of Gold – I just did not figure any of my fellow engineers would be interested. It was only in December 2006, while I was looking for a copy of the English version, that I realised what a following the series had. I am really pleased that people liked it.
The English version was never broadcast in Canada so I never knew of its popularity. I had heard that it was broadcast on the BBC and Nickelodeon, but I had assumed like all animations, people liked it while it played and forgot about it once it was over.
So other than people really close to me, it was not until 2007 when a few fans figured out who I was, that I got any questions related to the series.Shiraz Adam, thank you very much!