Just His Imagination: Manhattan Beach resident Scott Whyte uses his voice to bring characters alive

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Just His Imagination: Manhattan Beach resident Scott Whyte uses his voice to bring characters alive

Posted on: March 12th, 2014 by tommyj

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Scott Whyte

Scott Whyte spends hours in a recording studio, not recording music that he is known for with regular gigs in the beach cities, but bringing to life characters created for the animated or video game world.

Since his busy career as a voice actor began, Whyte, who lives in Manhattan Beach, has played everything from a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle to a World War II soldier. Not even in the live action film world do most actors have that chance for diversity.

Whyte’s childhood was about his imagination, running around wearing a cape pretending to be Superman. Now Whyte uses that imagination with just a script in hand, a few drawings and some direction, to help make any character he voices believable.

“There are not many careers where I could wake up and it’s like I have a split personality,” Whyte said. “I have 10 auditions and one minute I’m a Superman-type character and the next minute I’m the evil villain character. The next minute I’m a World War II soldier. I get to do all of this in one day, it’s like wow.”

Whyte recently lent his voice to two huge video game franchises with “Call of Duty: Ghosts,” which is currently available, and a “secret new game from the Sims franchise,” which he provides one of the main voices and is set to be released later this year.

“They’re anticipating that it’s going to be a huge release,” said Whyte of “Sims.”

Whyte, who performs regularly at Shark’s Cove in Manhattan Beach, has been in the voice-over world for a number of years. But he started in the entertainment business as a child actor, with guest spots on television, commercials and staring in such films as “D2: The Mighty Ducks” and “D3: The Mighty Ducks” as a teen. While he continued a busy acting career, it was his introduction to the voice-over world that has helped him create a niche.

“I’m hustling like nobody’s business, but I get to have these constants in my life so I’m not always in total panic mode,” Whyte said.

With a police officer for a father and a mother who is a teacher, acting wasn’t necessarily in Whyte’s blood (his great aunt was silent film star Betty Blythe famously known for starring in “Queen in Sheba” in 1921 and being one of the first actresses to appear semi-nude in film), but his grandfather was an art director/set designer in Hollywood.

“Ever since I saw ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ at a really young age … that movie really inspired me and made me think this is what I want to do,” Whyte said. “My imagination was always running wild.”

His grandfather was anti-film industry and advised Whyte not to enter the business, but he was still drawn to film, especially to horror films. At 9 years old, and an avid reader of “Fangoria,” he attended a Weekend of Horrors Convention and met a writer who had worked on one of the “Friday the 13th” films.

“I talked to him about special effects … I wanted to do everything, even being an animator,” Whyte said. “The next six months I begged my folks to get me into an acting class in the valley.”

The Van Nuys Young Actors Space, which includes alumnus Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire, was the weekly destination for Whyte for four years. His first commercial was for Pop Tarts before at 15 years old he landed the role of Gunnar Stahl in 1994 in the sequel to the hit “The Mighty Ducks.” “D2” was a perfect fit for Whyte, who had been playing hockey since he was 10 years old.

“When I saw ‘Mighty Ducks,’ I was like, ‘Wow, that would be the dream come true, play the sport you love and be an actor, this is crazy,’” Whyte said. “Two weeks later I was auditioning for ‘Mighty Ducks 2.’”

“D2” changed his life.

“I got to experience a little fame, that I carry to this day, people quacking at Shark’s Cove,” Whyte said. “There has been a Gunnar Stahl resurgence, people writing me, sending me articles. Two weeks ago, one of the guys who played my stunt double from ‘MD2’ wrote an article about being a stunt double for me and posted it on Twitter … it was a cool trip down memory lane.”

Whyte worked frequently after “D2,” including “D3,” and roles on TV shows including “Full House,” “The Nanny,” “That 70s Show” and “Just Shoot Me.” He also starred in all 105 episodes of “City Guys,” a “Saved by the Bell” style show, which ran on NBC from 1997 to 2001.

Voice-over work

Whyte was always interested in voice-over work but didn’t know how to get his foot in the door until he had a little help from a friend in the industry.

“I wasn’t really pursuing it, acting was keeping me busy,” Whyte said. “One of my good friends, Robin Atkin Downes, he’s a huge video game voice … he helped me make a demo. He has kind of been my mentor in a way when it comes to voice acting.”

His first voice-over job was an animated icon, Homer Simpson, for a mobile device game that was released when “The Simpsons Movie” hit theaters in 2007. That gig helped him land an agent, but it was a struggle early on to find jobs.

“The first year I signed with the agent I booked nothing,” Whyte said. “I was auditioning a lot. I thought I was doing great auditions. My agents were happy. They were like, ‘We’re not sure why you’re not booking.’ I went back in at the end of the year and they said, ‘We will give you six months to book something and then we will have to let you go if you don’t book something’ … I walked out depressed. I thought my career was over and it didn’t even start.”

A Subaru radio spot got the ball rolling for Whyte, but it was still slow going the first several years. Yet Whyte still landed one of his dream jobs – voicing Leonardo of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in the video game, “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows.”

“Every morning I would watch TMNT before school,” Whyte said. “I have a pet turtle named Leonardo. I thought if I could ever be a TMNT I would be Leonardo … this is what I wanted to do when I was 11 years old.”

The voice acting world is small and Whyte has been able to become part of that clique in recent years.

“I’m in that circle with certain groups where it’s like, ‘Oh, let’s bring Scott back in.’ I’m like, ‘Wow, I didn’t even audition for this role … it was because I worked on that game or that game.”

Whyte enjoys the voice-over world because “there’s no feeling of competition.”

“There really isn’t a whole lot of ego, if at all,” Whyte said. “Maybe there’s a few horror stories I’ve heard, but I’ve never experienced anything. The guys I’ve looked up to that I’ve been able to work with or meet have been nothing but nice, so helpful.”

Voice-over acting is also about taking risks, rather you’re giving voice to a turtle or some character that speaks a made-up foreign language.

“The whole thing about voice acting is not being afraid to suck … as my one friend said, ‘Check your ego at the door,’” Whyte said. “You just go for it because the second you think about what you’re doing … you’re blocking yourself in that stream of consciousness. You don’t over think it.”

Whyte has set aside his acting ambitions as his voice-over work has increased. Video game sales have become a gold mine. Games like “Minecraft,” “Grand Theft,” “Halo” and the “Call of Duty” series have sold tens of millions of copies. “Call of Duty: Ghosts,” which Whyte was heavily involved in, reportedly had nearly $1 billion in sales for Activision on its first day of sale in November 2013.

‘Right now is the time that games to me are surpassing Hollywood films when it comes to writing and sales no doubt … but the story ideas these people are coming up with are amazing,” Whyte said.

While Whyte is working on “Sims” and other projects he can’t yet talk about, he also gave his voice to two animated pilots hoping they will be picked up, including “The Meeps!” which is produced by Simon Fuller of “American Idol” fame, that features stuffed animals who want to form a rock group, and the Disney Junior show “Doc McStuffins.”

Whyte has led a house band at Shark’s Cove for 10 years.

“My music side is about the love and connection with people, being able to entertain in front of a crowd,” he said. “On the weekends there is still the feeling I want to get out and play and thrash my voice even more singing Zeppelin. Come Monday my voice is 50 percent when I should have been resting it.”

Whyte is hoping to release his first album later this year, maybe near the release of “Sims.” A song he had written with his singer/songwriter girlfriend, Chantelle Barry, appeared in the end credits of the 2012 straight-to-video release “Wyatt Earp’s Revenge” starring Val Kilmer. He also has a role, playing Charlie Bassett, a Dodge City lawmen, in the film.

But Whyte can still be seen, most Fridays and Saturdays at Shark’s Cove.

“I’ve created a bunch of family and friends, that’s what Shark’s Cove has become,” he said.

Whyte will also appear again at the annual Manhattan Beach Summer Concerts in the Park on Sunday, Aug. 17.

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