I was able to catch the last day of the 2023 Manila Pop Culture Convention (ManiPopCon) at Ayala Malls Manila Bay. My brother Toto and I arrived just in time for Mela Lee’s solo panel. Chief Geek Officer, Marco Aventajado, ushered us to the front row as Mela was called on stage.
The Los Angeles-based voice actress flew in for a meet-and-greet with her Filipino followers. She is the voice of Yuki Cross in “Vampire Knight,” Canary in “Hunter x Hunter,” Kikimora in “The Owl House,” Tikki in “Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir,” Rin Tosaka in the “Fate” series, Lifeline in “Apex Legends,” and Jade in “Mortal Kombat 11,” just to name a few. The American talent mentioned that she’s been part of a total of 313 projects including commercials and audio books.
“I moved a lot when I was a child -twenty-six times before I was 21 – so I always felt like kind of an outsider. But now I’m just living my best life with the best friends I could ever dream of,” she gushes. “I feel like I won the lottery!” she says of her job. “Not only do I get to play and be a kid for most of my career, everyone in the voice acting industry is kind, funny, and smart. I’ve seen in the last 10 years our industry celebrate diversity and culture and give people permission to dress up, express, shine, and find friendships all over the world. I feel like I’m part of something special, so are you and we appreciate your support,” she addresses a fan who was lucky enough to ask her a question directly.
Mela is clearly on a high as her single just dropped two days ago. “Written in the Stars” streams on all platforms, but my first listen was the special a cappella version that she performed for the ManiPopCon crowd. It was just a short portion of the song but it’s unlike any other available online.
“Every now and then I do free classes. If you go to melalee.com and sign up for the mailing list, I do free voice acting classes as a gift back to my fans. Right now, with the internet and YouTube, there’s so many free resources. I would find the actors that you love the most, follow them on social media, really have them express their craft and kind of get to know what they do and ask them questions. And then acting, training in theater and acting. I think the most important thing is to be comfortable with yourself,” she adds.
To the newbies, she shares: “Don’t try to be someone else. Your voice, your experience, your passion, your heart, they’re what make your voice uniquely yours so it could be soft or gravelly or deep or high. Whatever your voice naturally is, is what you can really bring to your art.”
A Pinay voice actor in the audience pointed out how rejection can be really discouraging and went on to ask Mela for advice she would give herself when she was just starting in voice acting. “Believe in the impossible because when you first start out, you don’t know what’s out there so sometimes you decide without knowing what’s possible. I decided that I couldn’t be a leading voice actress, I wasn’t one of the rich kids, I didn’t have lots of money, and couldn’t take lots of classes. But obviously I’m doing okay now so younger me was wrong because I didn’t know that I had things to offer that no one else could. So your passion, the things that you love, don’t try to erase them in voice acting, put them in it.”
Ooooh, that really resonated with me, and I’m not even a voice actress!
To stay updated on what Mela Lee is up to, follow her @themelalee on Instagram.