Joe Zieja is a former US Airforce officer who has been working as a voice actor since 2013. He has voiced characters in series like Fate/Apocrypha, One Punch Man, Gundam and Hunter X Hunter. He was one of the guests at Otakon 2021 and we caught up with him between panels to get his insight on his roles and voice acting.
Interview with Joe Zieja
What lead you to a career in voice acting?
I served in the US Air Force 2003-2013 and after leaving the service was looking for a job and the natural location to find work was DC. I very randomly stumbled into voice acting in 2013 and booked the first thing I ever auditioned for and 16 months later quit my job and 8 months after that moved to LA to hunt for bigger work. The work here in the DC area was mainly online corporate and unsexy stuff.
How did you go from the Air Force to acting?
The change to voice over was totally random. I didn’t even know that voice over was a career. In the Air Force I was always comfortable giving briefings or officiating a ceremony.
You played four different characters in episodes of One Punch Man. How do you differentiate them?
Four characters isn’t even the most I've played in anything. I’ve had jobs where I’m 20 characters in a game because each of them has only one line. I actually don’t even remember doing four characters in One Punch Man. I remember doing Roach and that’s it. So, most likely they are one or two lines and not very memorable, it takes 30 seconds in the booth and they’re a background character. You don’t spend a lot of time trying to get into th head of background character 6.
You’ve been in Jojo, Gundam, Hunter X Hunter, is there a genre that you gravitate toward or a franchise you feel at home in?
I loved Fate/Apocrypha. It’s special to me on a personal level because it was then that I met what are now my close friends. I began recording it just a year after moving to LA. I spent a whole lot of time with the character Achilles so I have a lot of fondness for that franchise.
You had to adapt a hero of legend, Achilles, a hero that has lots of mythos about his personality, what did you do to harness that?
I wanted to make this guy a jerk, a loveable stuck-up guy.
Do you get the chance to do any background research on the series or characters that you are getting cast to play?
If I have access to it, yes. I very often don’t have access to it. If its a video game the game is usually codenamed, and the role is codenamed and if you can’t decipher it out of the casting directors email you don’t find out until you get there. If it is a series or a known property I will go back and take a look at the source material. Though in the case of Bumblebee in the Transformer Series on Netflix they didn’t want the plucky Autobot they wanted a gritty gunrunner.
The chance to talk with Joe Zieja means a lot to the whole Honey’s Anime community. We can’t thank the Otakon staff enough for helping set up the interview. We look forward to seeing and hearing what Joe does next.