09th May2018


Interview: Actress & Voiceover Artist Vida Ghaffari

by Philip Rogers

Vida Ghaffari is an award-winning actress and voiceover artist who is best known for her appearances on the television comedies, Mind of Mencia on Comedy Central, Jimmy Kimmel Live on ABC and The Mindy Project formerly on FOX. However, after completing a supporting role in Nation’s Fire and the much buzzed about Holy Terror she is really starting to make an impact and recently won the Trailblazer Award at the Universe Multicultural Film Festival (pictured below).

I got an opportunity to ask Vida a few questions about how she got into acting and voiceover work, working with Mel Novak and her various upcoming projects which she is working on.

Vida_Ghaffari

How did you first get into acting and voiceover work?

I actually got my start as a reporter for an international satellite Persian TV station. I voiced their promos in English and Farsi and then put together my first demos from that. I joke that I did twice the work for half the pay. I acted in college (minored in theatre at the University of Maryland, College Park) and performed in their black box theatre. From there I started acting in anything I could: plays, student films, sketch comedy, which led to indie films and TV. I’ve really paid my dues, so it’s nice to see the fruits of my labor pay off.

You voiced one of the characters in the Christmas themed Suspense Radio Drama ‘Have a Hacking, Whacking Christmas’. For those who haven’t listened to a radio drama before, can you explain what they can expect?

They can expect a lot of suspense (no pun intended) with some black comedy sprinkled in. It’s a nice twist on Christmas as it’s not your typical Christmas special.

What first attracted you to ‘Have a Hacking, Whacking Christmas’?

I loved the original Suspense Show (1949 – 1954) and radio plays. I had done some before back in the day and I love voiceover. John Alsedek, the writer and director, is also super talented and I really wanted to work with him. Additionally, I’m a big fan of everything retro and one show that I love is the original Suspense Show on CBS television and Rod Sterling got his start writing for that show. This show was the basis of the Twilight Zone (1959 – 1964) and I love anything that Sterling is a part of. I have some DVDs of the original show that I watch often.

Are you working together when recording a radio drama or are the recordings done individually?

We all record our lines together.

Do you think this process makes it easier or more difficult when trying to develop and record your own character?

I think it’s easier as we work off one another. It’s a lot like improv in that respect, but we have scripts.

Do you find you can get more of a range of characters as a voice over artist than you do as an actor?

Yes, much more diversity in terms of the types and age ranges of the characters I play as it’s my voice.

You have radio drama coming out soon which you recorded with Mel Novak. Can you tell us a bit about that recording?

That was so much fun to work on and every time I work with Mel, no matter what the genre or type of work (voice over or on-camera), I learn something from him. I voice a femme fatale type and its sort of a film noir. It’s ironic. Mel plays such ruthless villains like in Bruce Lee’s Game of Death and An Eye for An Eye, opposite Chuck Norris, but he’s such a nice person in real life. Truly a polar opposite of who he really is.

Radio dramas were once seen as a declining trend due to TV, but with the increase of internet downloads for podcasts do you think there could be an emerging market for radio dramas?

I totally do, especially now in the internet age with the help of social media and as you mentioned the popularity of podcasts.

You have several upcoming film projects including Nation’s Fire and Horndog’s Beach Party. Can you tell us a bit about these films?

Nation’s Fire is a great film about female empowerment and family dynamics. Described as Easy Rider meets The Professional, the story is about a single mom (Krista Grotte) who seeks revenge for the death of her son. Without giving too much away, I play an interesting role in this film. It was one of the most challenging roles I’ve ever had. Thomas J. Churchill is an very talented and prolific filmmaker and it was great to work with him as well as our cast, which had actors like two-time Oscar nominee Bruce Dern, Emmy and Peabody Award winner Gil Bellows, Laurene Landon, Lou Ferrigno Jr., as well as UFC fighter Chuck Liddell.

Horndog’s Beach Party is about a group of friends looking to have the ultimate beach party and they must overcome a series of comical obstacles including a nosy neighbour and two jealous frat boys to achieve their goal. Mike Reeb wrote such a funny script and I had such a fun role! It was great working with legendary scream queens Brinke Stevens and Dawna Lee Heising again and Troy Fromin (Saved by the Bell) who had the titular role of ‘Horndog’. Dustin Ferguson is a great cult filmmaker and he did a great job directing as well.

You have had a varied career with the roles as both actress and voice over artist, but are there any specific roles or characters which you would like to play in the future?

I’d love to play Jacqueline Kennedy or another insightful historical figure. I’m a big history buff.

You currently have a multifaceted career; in addition to your acting and voiceover work you are also a journalist, presenter and run your own blog. How do you prioritize what projects you want to work on next?

First and foremost, I mostly focus on my acting, but with social media and the internet, one has to be a multi-hyphenate. I always pay attention to strong female roles in scripts, even if it’s a character role. Usually the character roles have the most bite anyway.

Do you have any other new projects which you are currently working on?

I’m recurring on XM Satellite Radio – The Suspense Show. I also just recorded another Suspense episode called The First Snowfall of Winter where I co-starred alongside Adrienne Wilkinson (Xena: Warrior Princess, Star Trek: Renegades) and Keston John (Bosch, Chicago Fire).

What advice would you give to someone who wants to get into acting?

Do as much theatre, improv, student films, take classes and seek a mentor.

Vida getting the Trailblazer Award at the Universe Multicultural Film Festival (UMFF)

Vida getting the Trailblazer Award at the Universe Multicultural Film Festival (UMFF)

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