True "Adventure Time" fans are fully aware of Korean-born talent Niki Yang who voices characters BMO and Lady Rainicorn. But did you know that Yang is a CalArts grad that originally specialized in storyboard art? Much more then just a pretty voice, Yang has become quite a hot commodity, first with her art and animation skills on the uber-popular "Family Guy" and then moving on to actual voice work with both "Adventure Time" and "Gravity Falls." With the latest "Adventure Time The Complete Season 3" now available on both DVD and Blu-ray (and in a lush BMO package design no less!) both myself and my young son - "Adventure Time" uber-fan Will - got a chance to tag team interview the talented Yang on everything from voice acting to character genders. Who wants to play video games - here’s...
Jason: First question would be they’ve made this Season 3 Blu-ray case out of your character BMO – was that flattering?
Niki: Of definitely! I was so excited to have one for myself as well. (Laughs) It’s surprising and so wonderful to be a popular character.
Will: I heard you also did work on "Family Guy" – was it interesting to move from that show to "Adventure Time?"
Niki: Well, "Family Guy" was my first gig and it’s quite different because it’s a primetime show which is very writer driven. "Gravity Falls" was an amazing experience as well and I got a chance to do one of the characters for the show so it was awesome for me. Each of the shows had a different color and a different style so I got to learn and work with talented and wonderful talented people – it’s been an amazing journey for me.
Will: What made you actually jump into the voice part of the work?
Niki: I was just a storyboard artist and Pendleton asked me to do the test for Lady Rainicorn since I speak Korean and I thought it was fun to do. So I did it and he liked it. It wasn’t my intention or goal to do voices – it just naturally happened for me and I’m very lucky.
Jason: You obviously do two voices on "Adventure Time" – BMO and the Korean speaking Lady Rainicorn. Which is your favorite and did you bring the language aspect to Lady Rainicorn or is it something they wrote for you?
Niki: I went to school with Pendleton Ward the creator of "Adventure Time" and there were a lot of Korean students he went to school with. So he already had it in his mind that this character was going to speak Korean and he was not going translate what she says. Both characters have a different color, but I guess I’m more like Lady Rainicorn because that’s how I speak naturally, so I can relate more. But BMO is a wonderful character too – it’s very fun to play.
Will: Is everything Lady Rainicorn says actually Korean?
Niki: Yeah – it is really Korean! (Laughs) Actually the writers write it in English and then I translate it to Korean. So I have to be right on because there is a lot of Korean speaking audience out there. If I do it wrong, they’ll know!
Will: I was confused if BMO was a male or female character...
Niki: Yeah...(laughs)...that’s an ongoing debate. I felt BMO was a boy from the very first season and then it just evolved into genderless because my voice sounds really girlish. So in an episode here and there he switches gender from a boy to a girl – especially in one episode where Tree Trunks got married and BMO actually wears a flower on his head...or on her head in that case. So I don’t know – you’ll have to ask Pendleton about that.
Will: What does BMO stand for?
Niki: Uh...be more? (Laughs) I don’t know where that name came from actually – that question is more for Pendleton!
Jason: Now having done stuff on both the artist and vocal sides of the work, which do you see in your future – which would you like to do more?
Niki: (Laughs) I like both. Having started as a storyboard artist making shorts and making films are my passion, but the voice gig has opened my eyes to different directions. Being an actor is such a fun job, so it’s hard to tell. I wish I could do both for a very long time!
"ADVENTURE TIME THE COMPLETE THIRD SEASON" BLU-RAY AND DVD IS AVAILABLE NOW FROM CARTOON NETWORK AND WARNER BROS. HOME ENTERTAINMENT.