Donna Grillo

What is your name and your current occupation?
Donna Grillo.  Casting and Dialog Director.


What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
I’ve always been in the entertainment business – that’s crazy, right?

What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
Well, Spongebob Squarepants is certainly the most iconic show I ever cast but as far as favorites go I’d have to say “Squirrel Boy” and “The Angry
Beavers” just for the sheer laughs and freedom to create crazy characters. “Duckman” was also an awesome show – so friggen funny!

How did you become interested in animation?

Although I loved Looney Tunes when I was growing up I wasn’t that big of an animation fan until I started working at Klasky Csupo.

Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I’m an L.A. girl. I was burned out from years of working on motion pictures.  I took some time off to write but…. when it was time to go back to work I found a job as Gabor Csupo and Sherry Gunther’s assistant at Klasky/Csupo. They were just starting production on “Duckman.”  I was always giving Gabor  ideas on who we should stunt cast and he kept saying “you’re good at this, you should get in to casting.”  So when an opening came up as an associate working with Barbara Wright in the casting department I jumped on the opportunity.

What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
When I’m casting I get the script or storyboard, break it down by characters and then start jotting down ideas for actors who I think would be good for the parts.  I then talk to the show creators and agents and then either cast or hold auditions.  A few days later we go to a recording studio and I direct the actor’s vocal performances.
What part of your job do you like best? Why?
The creativity of working with many actors, directors and artists. Dialog directing the actors on recording day is the most fun.  There’s nothing like  the magic of watching actors bring the scripted words to life.  I’m always pleasantly surprised at what the actors bring to the table.

What part of your job do you like least? Why?
I really hoped that when I left motion pictures that I’d get away from all the back-stabbing and petty insecurities that go on but guess what?  People  are people and there’s no escape!

What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
Looking for new jobs all of the time.What kind of technology do you work with on a daily basis?

Computer, recording studio.
In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
I’ve been fortunate to have worked with many animation greats, celebrities and so many different directors that it’s hard to pick just one but here’s a
story that comes to mind: I was working at Hanna Barbara and John K. was making a Yogi Bear short. I had a lunch meeting with him at his office and he decided to
physically act out the entire short, jumping up and down, rolling around on the ground, doing the voices for Yogi and BooBoo. Now that was great!
Describe a tough situation you had in life.
It gets tricky when the creator of the show wants one thing and the corporate heads want something else. I’ve had to become a good middle man and not take sides and try to make everyone happy.

Any side projects or you’re working on or hobbies you’d like to share details of?
I’ve written several t.v. shows, made short films and published my first short story this year – so I’ve been busy writing. I’m also a printmaker so I
do my best to keep the muses happy.
Any unusual talents or hobbies like tying a cherry stem with your tongue or metallurgy?
I’ve been in to baking lately.  Not a good hobby when you’re worried about gaining weight but my husband sure enjoys the treats.
Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?
I always say that you’ve got to get out and participate with the community. If there’s an event go to it and schmooze. That way people will remember you when its time to hire.
Also – don’t burn bridges. This is a small community and you’ll be smart to hold your tongue when people annoy you.

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