Albert Tsai is a young actor who has worked on a variety of network shows throughout the years. At age 8, he started his acting career, and was featured on shows such as ABC’s Dr. Ken, ABC’s Fresh Off the Boat, and ABC’s Trophy Wife. He is currently starring on Disney channel’s Coop and Cami Ask the World. On September 27th, his newest project, Dreamworks’s Abominable, will hit theatres.
I sat down with the young start to talk through the process of recording his first film and his acting career thus far.
Joanna: From all the shows and films you’ve been in, were there any notable experiences you had or any people you met who really inspired you to keep acting?
Albert: I fell in love with acting when I was 7 and I was doing a school play in second grade. My parents are the ones who really encouraged me and inspired me to do the things I loved.
Joanna: So I noticed that you’ve been cast in a lot of comedic roles. Are comedic roles your favorites to play? Are there any other styles of acting you’d like to try?
Albert: I love comedy because since I was a little kid I’ve loved to make people laugh. Comedy is definitely one of my favorites. However, I’d also love to be involved in more feature films in the future. I want to try something more action or adventure based.
Joanna: So tell us about the new Abominable movie. Who are you voicing? How has the experience been?
Albert: So Abominable is a movie about three kids who find a Yeti on their roof and become really fond of him. Throughout the movie, they embark on a journey throughout China to get the Yeti home. I play Peng, who is a fun loving and energetic kid who grew up with Yi and Jin, the two other kids. He loves playing with Everest (the Yeti) on this adventure they go on. He’s very brave and throws himself headfirst into the adventure. He’s also very confident, and those are all things that I relate to him on. I too am very fun loving and energetic.
Recording Abominable has been this amazing experience for me. I’ve been recording for Abominable since I was twelve, and so it’s definitely been a while. I was the first cast member cast in the film so I got to witness the entire process of creating this animated feature, the script, storyboard, the animation process, seeing the sketches turn into triple 3-D animation, and finally seeing it in a movie theater. It’s been an incredible experience for me.
Joanna: Wow that’s awesome, so has voice acting been different from stereotypical network acting? Has working on this movie been really eye opening?
Albert: Yeah well, definitely. Voiceover and animation are very different from live action acting because as opposed to live action, you record in animation before they even draw anything. So when you’re voicing, you really have to look at the script and imagine the setting, what your character is doing and thinking, and really portray that all through your voice. You don’t really get that facial expression or body movement really. As opposed to live action, you get to see the set and all the actors and actresses and how you get to interact with them, so I feel like it’s really all about the tone and the quality of the voice and inflections and how you portray everything with your voice.
Joanna: Right, okay, so that’s really different. So how did filming that movie go, did you have to watch the animations at the same time as you were speaking, trying to emulate what you saw?
Albert: No, actually, so the way it works is that we would record the scene, and then afterwards they would go and draw it. So, basically, I would have recorded a certain sequence and they would go and draw it, and then the next time I would come in to record they would show that scene to me and try to work around it. And what was really cool to me was that every recording session they had, they would show us the different clips of the movie and the sequences and I got to see what they had worked on and see that what I had recorded last time had come to life, which was a really cool part for me. I also felt like that process allowed me more creative freedom because we could do a lot of the recording without having to match what they had drawn. We could play around with it. If we wanted to add a word here or there, it wouldn’t be a big issue.
Joanna: How did you feel when you landed that role?
Albert: I was super excited. This was the first animated movie that I have been a part of and the first voiceover project that I have ever done. When I landed the role of Peng, I instantly knew that Peng was for me. It’s been so long since I started recording the film and at this point Peng really has a special place in my heart.
Joanna: So why do you think people should go to see the Abominable movie?
Albert: Abominable is really a story about family and I think it’s super beautiful and connecting. Most importantly, it’s a story about friendship. Throughout the movie, you get to see all these beautiful sceneries and visuals. It’s such a gorgeous movie, it’s very heartwarming and for the entire family.
Joanna: So you said you started acting when you were 8, so how has growing up in the acting world been? Has it been different from what people would consider to be a “normal childhood experience?” Would you trade it for anything?
Albert: Well, I’ve loved growing up on sets and growing up acting because acting is my passion. What’s really interesting is that because I’ve been acting and on set since I was little, I’ve been able to see a lot of the behind the scenes action and how the directors, producers, and crew really work together to make TV shows and movies. I myself would really love to get involved in the filmmaking process and the behind the scenes work.
Joanna: So were there any major challenges you ran into within your acting career?
Albert: I wouldn’t say there have actually been any major challenges but I’m just really developing what I want to do as an actor and trying to find the types of shows and movies I want to work on. I think that in the future I really want to branch out and do behind the scenes work but also work on more action and adventure type projects. I think that would really be fun for me.
Joanna: What is your view on both age and diversity in Hollywood? There have been a lot of recent movies like Crazy Rich Asians and other movies that have finally started to open acting up to different races and communities in Hollywood, what do you think about these efforts?
Albert: I’m so glad to be a part of this movement in Hollywood, I think it’s super important to tell stories from all different ages, genders, or races and show that everyone has their side to the story and that everyone has a different story to tell.
Joanna: Were there any perks to starting young in the acting industry?
Albert: I feel like starting as a kid and starting young is really fun because you get to see everything sort of develop. You get to try out different roles and different types of projects, and you really get to test all different sorts of things. Also, because you’re so energetic and youthful, you get to see everything and you get to be more experimental and brave when you’re a kid. You’re able to try different things and embrace new challenges.
Joanna: And what advice would you give to other young actors who are looking to find as much success as you have?
Albert: Just to believe in yourself, do what you love, and never give up. Always be persistent, and no matter what people tell you, keep going. You can hear 99 nos but there will always be one yes that starts your career out.
Joanna: Let’s talk about Coop and Cami for a couple minutes. Tell us about your experience on that show and what it’s been like for you.
Albert: I have always wanted to be on Disney Channel and I love my Disney Channel family, so it’s definitely been an amazing experience working on Coop and Cami. It’s been such a fun role for me to play because in every episode there are new special effects and perks of playing the role of Fred. I also feel like Fred is such a quirky and layered character. In every episode you get to discover more of his personality and something you may not have known about him before, so it’s definitely been a very fun experience for me.
Joanna: How has working with the Coop and Cami cast been for you?
Albert: We’re on season two now and the cast has really just bonded. We are best friends and we all love to hang out with each other on and off set. We really are just a big family. It’s like coming to work every day with your best friends.
Joanna: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Albert: I’m so grateful for all my fans and I can’t wait to show what else is in store for them with both Abominable and Coop and Cami season 2.
Featured Image courtesy of Jordyn Palos