We had the good fortune of connecting with Delilah Kujala and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Delilah, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
Risk taking has set my career on a whole new level. Back in September of 2021, I came to the decision to quit my day job of 7 years to pursue Voiceover full time. It was earlier that year that I had created a professional home studio and had made more income than I’ve ever had in my adult life, all from Voiceover jobs. While I knew I had to quit my day job, it was terrifying. My ‘smart actor’ brain said, “you need to hang onto the part time day job just in case…” However, I realized that not only was that job keeping me small by making it difficult to go out for recording sessions on a last minute basis, but also I realized I was keeping myself small by continuing to rely on that job as an excuse to not let myself grow in my career, trust in my abilities and pursue my dreams. The job was a safety anchor.

I truly believe that at some point we have to take risks to grow… we need to trust that if we take that ‘leap of faith’ the net will appear. I’m a practitioner of Nichiren Buddhism, part of the Soka Gakkai International. I chant Nam Myoho Renge Kyo to bring about my highest life condition and help others do the same. I believe in cause and effect and that creating new effects in the future means I have to change the causes I make today. The core belief is that every single person is more capable than they realize, it’s just about tapping into that innate potential, wisdom and courage every single day and being able to see all negativities and obstacles as jumping blocks to create value and benefit. It is these exact circumstances that can help us create lives of unshakable happiness. I think that risk taking goes hand in hand with growth in any industry. It is about using wisdom as well as having faith – or deep trust in oneself – to know when it’s time to fly. If I had stayed in the safe place, I wouldn’t be where I am now. Working from home solely as a Voice actor.

The interesting thing about risk is that when you do take risks, you are telling the universe ‘this is my new plan’. And I believe the universe responds to our deep determinations. When I quit my day job, I had nothing lined up. But I knew I would land something soon enough. It was 5 days after I quit that job that I booked my first national commercial (Greenlight “Invest In Your Best Investment” – Now Airing) and soon after the “South Park” project I was working on turned into two mini movies for Paramount Plus…

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I’m a Voiceover actor. Last year was a whole new level for me. I booked a dream job, voicing the role of Amazon Alexa in the 2 mini movies for South Park that were released on Paramount Plus: “South Park: Post Covid” & “South Park: Post Covid: The Return of Covid”. It was truly an honor and full circle moment for me. My father (a professional Flute player) has played in 100s of various TV and Film, including the soundtrack for both “South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut” and “Team America: World Police”. That, coupled with the fact that I love mimicking A.I. voices, made this an extraordinary experience. From a young age, I’ve been mimicking voices… in particular the computer robot from a Macintosh computer my dad bought circa 1990. I always had a thing for robots and A.I.’s as well. So that old saying, ‘success is what happens when timing meets preparation’, felt very much in line with how I booked the job as Alexa. I saw the listing and knew how to mimic Alexa like the back of my hand. I think I had just the right momentum going that put me in rhythm with the universe to book that job.

2021 was full of big strides. I invested in my home studio including purchasing a professional sound booth (Shoutout to LA Vocal Booths) and my career skyrocketed! I worked on a project for Ubisoft, voiced the role of Benedetta: Death Oath in the video game Mobile Legends: Bang Bang along with booking my first National commercial for Greenlight (“Invest In Your Best Investment”) as well as creating great working relationships with repeat clients. I was fortunate to work in quite a few voice dubbing jobs including for the lead in the Swedish horror film “The Evil Next Door” as well as the thriller Danish TV series, “Sløborn”. One of the most interesting commercials I did was for Almond Breeze. It was a fake musical they put on TikTok to promote Banana month called “Breeze High”. My job was to sing the lead female parts so that viewers could record over my karaoke track and win the contest. It was totally up my alley with stuff I love to do.

I definitely didn’t start out thinking I would do Voiceover. I went to theater conservatory hoping to go to Broadway. I was particularly obsessed with “Wicked” at that time. But where I ended up was so much more in line with who I am as an actor and as a person. I graduated PCPA: Theater Conservatory, then got my BFA in acting from CSUF. I took two years away from acting. I was singing professionally in musicals and studio recordings. I then came out to Los Angeles and spent 6 years working odd jobs as an actor with a couple of cool on camera roles along with some musicals and plays. My most gratifying work was being part of “Game Of Thrones: The Rock Musical” (a parody musical of the HBO TV show). We did a two month run in West Hollywood, a weekend at Comic Con and then went Off Broadway, all in 2017. Full circle moment for this was the venue we performed at (The Theater Center) was right across the street from where “Wicked” was playing. Though that was the ‘dream’, I was not at all disappointed in where I had ended up. I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Getting to work on a new musical, with an incredible cast and crew (who became like family) and being able to see it grow from the ground up was so gratifying.

In between all of this, I was dabbling in Voiceover classes and getting smaller jobs here and there. I first worked on an audio drama my friend, Matt Fowler, created called “The Veil” while also working on an Anime and dubbing an AI character in a short film (which came in handy for the “South Park” audition). All of those were what I call ‘planting seeds’ that would later blossom into trees. It was the end of 2019 where things really switched for me. I booked my first Voiceover commercial for Ring Security Camera. The production company I worked for had said I should get a professional setup in my home so I could do remote recordings. So I did just that. Two months before the Pandemic, my husband and I made a recording studio inside our tiny closet… and the timing couldn’t have been any better.

I spent all of 2020 recording in the closet. Battling the sounds of neighbors, laundry rooms and cars outside. And while it was the most frustrating of times, it also became the most gratifying… I learned about patience as well as craftsmanship on a whole new level. It was at the end of the year when I booked 8 gigs in one week that I determined that it was time to up the game. I told my husband we had to get a professional sound booth as I knew it would skyrocket my work, and it did exactly that.

I take a lot of my experience as a musician, singer and particularly my training in Shakespeare and musical theater into all I do with Voiceover. A lot of the work is imagination, talking to yourself while pretending someone is there and playing believably in whatever genre you are doing. When it comes to commercial work, I try to find the song within each piece of copy and I love digging in to find where the journey will take my voice. I think words are so incredibly powerful and can take us all on a ride. My goal is to take the listener on a journey, each time I get behind the mic.

Recently, I booked a 2 year Voiceover campaign which I’m excited to announce soon… I have some other exciting projects coming up. Of course NDA’s won’t let me say just yet what they are, but I’ll keep you posted. 🙂

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I love the Huntington Library, Art Museum and Botanical Garden in Altadena. It is simply stunning. Yamashiro Hollywood has a glorious view of the city and delicious food. The Magic Castle is one of the most unique and exciting places I’ve been. I haven’t been for quite a few years but when I did go there the only way to get in was to know a magician. Sassafrass Saloon is a hoot. I went for one of my birthdays and got in early enough to get a tour of the attic space, which apparently is haunted.

Seeing a musical at The Pantages and/or a concert at the Hollywood Bowl. These both hold a special place in my heart as my dad was a part of the Hollywood Bowl orchestra and has played several musicals at The Pantages. The history is rich and the experiences there are magical. For something totally unique and different, The Museum of Jurassic Technology is an interesting experience. It is bizarre and I am all about it. 🙂 Think if David Lynch were to create a museum. Downtown Pasadena, Downtown Burbank. The Brand Library in Glendale has beautiful architecture and lovely walks.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
So many people to thank. I’ll start with the support of my SGI community – all of the members, leaders and young women I’ve either gotten support from or have been supporting me. My parents, Delilah Shank and Stephen Kujala, who always have encouraged me to stay the course. My husband, Adam El-Sharkawi, who is my biggest cheerleader, constantly encouraging me when I’m at my lowest. Minita Gandhi – one of my best friends, confidants and incredible writer, actor, artist. My “Shame of Thrones: The Musical” family and especially Erin Stegeman, who really taught me it is possible to create a life as a freelance actor and make a family work. My longtime friends, Chelsea Hanawalt and Kellee English. My manager, Jeff Gorski (JAG Management) who has really taken me under his wing and showed me the ropes of this industry I had never known before. All my instructors – EVER! This may sound cliche but I have used every single thing I learned in theater school, singing, dancing, zoom workshops and have applied it to my work as a voice actor. Thank you to every person on my journey. I believe nothing is ever wasted in this life. I make sure I am honoring some part of that in my work, always. And finally, my life mentor, Daisaku Ikeda, who believes in the incredible potentialities of all human beings.

Website: www.delilahkujala.com

Instagram: @delilahkujala_vo

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/delilah-kujala-vo-301a7440/

Twitter: @DelilahKujala

Facebook: Delilah Kujala

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCOfEjm7qv3gSuAKWP9ecXxw

Other: IMDB: imdb.me/delilahkujala

Image Credits
(Photo 1) Photo Credit: Jordan Kubat Photography (Photo 2) Photo Credit: Ryan Bayer (Photo 3-5) Photo Credit: Jordan Kubat Photography (Photo 7-8) Photo Credit: Huebner Headshots

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