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Ex-Montrealer voices character on popular online series

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Barbara Dunkelman

Live action and animated programs tend to struggle to find broadcasting homes on television, forcing many show creators to turn to alternative streaming platforms like YouTube, Netflix and Amazon. It’s a practice that has changed the way we consume the performing arts and has changed the industry as a whole.

The animated series RWBY is one such show. Streaming on YouTube, it has garnered over a million views per episode, over the course of four seasons. Available now on DVD, RWBY was picked up to air on Japanese TV., the first western-made anime dubbed to Japanese. Normally it’s the reverse.

One of the key voices on the show is voiced by Barbara Dunkleman. Dunkelman 28, who hails from Montreal, moved to Ottawa when she was 8 and became quite connected to the Jewish community. Participating in Birthright when she was 19, she surprised herself with how much she retained from Hebrew school.

With a penchant for learning Dunkelman returned to Montreal to study marketing at Concordia University. Graduating in 2011 she moved to Austin, Tx. to work for Rooster Teeth, a production company that developed the longest running-web series of all time Red vs Blue. Shortly after she was hired as director of community engagement, the company began branching out into live action shorts, launching the animated series RWBY in 2013.

While directing the company’s social media activities, Dunkelman was approached by her friend and RWBY show creator Monty Oum to try voice acting. “He came up to me one day and asked what I thought about voicing the character Yang (based on Goldie Locks) in his new show. I was thrilled to give it a shot.”

Asked what it’s like lending one’s voice to an animated character instead of portraying a fictional character on camera, Dunkleman said “voice acting is so much fun, you don’t have to worry what you look like, you just have to make sure it sounds good. It was always something I was interested in.”

The middle child with two brothers, Dunkelman recalled, “we were always doing silly voices and making sound effects, all the goofy things kids do. Introverted and very shy I realize through acting I’ve allowed myself to say yes to any opportunity that comes my way, I’ve never regretted a single one I’ve said yes to.”

With on-camera acting Dunkelman acknowledges, “you have much more to work with to get into character”. Both Dunkelman and Zachary Levi, best known for NBC’s CHUCK are guests of this years Fan Expo Canada convention and co-star in the live action, horror/comedy Blood Fest. “I just wrapped on the production, it was my first time getting to be one of the main cast members for a feature. It was a blast.”

Asked if she’s a fan of the supernatural and horror genre as both RWBY and Blood Fest have the theme in common, Dunkelman said, “I’m usually very scared of horror movies, can’t watch them, but filming horror you get to separate yourself from it and peak behind the curtain of what it’s really like so you don’t get as scared. I had so much fun.”

RWBY season five is scheduled for release in October and Blood Fest is in post-production now.