Isen comfortable being cast in male voice-over roles
July 27, 2017
Nearly 13 years ago, Nissae Isen’s husky voice caught the attention of a studio director.
Invited to audition for a voice-over role in Miss BG, a 3-D animated series based on the ‘Gudule’ French children’s book series, she could hardly contain her excitement.
Isen, however, didn’t get to play the role she was expecting.
Instead, she was cast as BG’s younger brother, George.
Since then, Isen has been cast as a male character in most of the roles she has played because of her voice.
“I am comfortable now with doing that,” said 20-year-old Westmount Collegiate Institute graduate and second-year nursing student at Ryerson University.
She plays the lead voice – Kody -- in ‘Kody Kapow’ which is an animated series about a Chinese-American boy who discovers that he’s destined to become a martial arts superhero.
Set in China, Kody goes on adventures to save his village using martial arts tenets such as mindfulness, patience and perseverance with the help of his cousin Mei and their friend Goji played by American actor Jason Alexander who is best known for his prominent role as George Costanza in the television series ‘Seinfeld’.
The 26-episode series premiered on July 15.
Isen auditioned for the series last year.
“I sent in a tape and then I had to go to a downtown studio,” she said. “I was then told they were looking for someone fitting a Chinese-American character, but they changed their minds and I was called back and presented with the role. The process was long, but I am happy with the outcome.”
In several television series in the last few years, Isen has voiced prominent young male characters, including Yuri in ‘My Big Big Friend’ for which she received a 2012 and 2013 Young Artist Awards nominations for ‘Best Performance in a Voice-Over Role’.
At last February’s Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists (ACTRA) Awards, Isen handed out an award.
“That was a new experience for me,” said the 2014 nominee in the Outstanding Performance-Voice category.
Isen said voice acting has helped her move out of a comfort zone.
“I was very shy and when I first started, I was uneasy,” she said. “I had a lot of stuffed animals which I took to the studio and that helped to settle me down and make me comfortable.”
Isen is following in the footsteps of older sister Tajja Isen who played the role of Young Nala in the Toronto production of Disney’s ‘The Lion King’.
In 2009, she was part of a group that won a Gemini Award in the ‘Best Individual or Ensemble Performance in an Animated Program or Series’ category for their presentation in ‘Atomic Betty’.
“That was one of two shows that we worked on together and I remember we were just giggling and we stood across from each other in the studio,” recalled Isen who has also done voice-over commercials for the York Region District School Board, Gain Laundry Detergent and Kellogg’s Mini-Wheats.
The eldest of five siblings is also a singer/songwriter and a University of Toronto Faculty of Law student and Master of Arts candidate.
“They have forged great part-time careers,” said their father Dr. Jordie Isen who has been involved in several charitable projects for the Caribbean. “They are both at the top in a hub of voice acting in Toronto and they have established great relationships. They are very similar and independent in that way.”
Dr. Isen is married to Trinidadian-born Karen Isen whose father Ken Simon is a retired Humber College business school lecturer.
The girls come from an artistic family.
Their great-grandfather, Morris Isen, was a Toronto Symphony Orchestra trumpeter in the 1950s and their grandfather, Mel Isen, is a piano teacher.