Animation has changed throughout its many decades of existence but two traits which it has most often retained are the dual purposes of entertaining and simultaneously teaching both young and old about life. While it’s true that this has not been the aim of every animated production, the vast majority adhere to it. As with any art-form, animation evolves along with society. An excellent contemporary example of this is “Nina’s World” which helps to present the fact that we can have various cultural differences while still sharing many of the same needs and desires as people. This precursor to the “Good Night Show” focuses on the childhood days of Nina, the Latin American host of the block. One of the show’s stars, actor Edwin Perez, has experienced this in his own life. As Nina’s musical Tio (uncle) he portrays a positive role model who is plainly…well, cool. While Perez has starred in such horror films as Peelers and “El Gigante”, his voice work in “Nina’s World” is lighthearted and amiable. Appearing in the show with other notable actors like Rita Moreno, Mandy Patinkin, and Mayim Bialik, Edwin is part of a stellar cast which communicates the ideas about living in a climate of diversity with a harmonious touch.
As Nina’s Tio (uncle) Javier, Edwin is the bridge between the children and adults in the series. Javier is a twenty-two-year old musician/university student who is a hip, fun loving, singer/song writer. His use of comedy, music, and education often hedges the line between best friend and guardian of Nina and her peers. When he is not writing music or at school, Javier works at the local music store. He dreams of touring the world and playing his songs. Javier really understands Nina and easily recalls what it was like to be her age with a very curious and a vivid imagination. Javier share his art with others and also learns from them. Not only is he endearing as a character but Javier’s talent (and thereby the talent of Perez) gives the opportunity for education through song. For example, for the episode in which Nina learns to help take care of her baby brother, Javier teaches her a lullaby. Mayim Bialik appears in an episode as Javier’s best friend and they perform a song together about friendship. The demands of Edwin vocally are that Javier be presented in a theatrical style rather than the traditional pop style that he is most accustomed to singing. He relates the experience to acting with an accent, which is something he also is allowed to exhibit on “Nina’s World.” Voice over casting and dialogue director Cindy Akers has worked with Perez for three years on “Nina's World.” She notes, “Edwin is particularly valuable to our production as he brings the life of Tio Javier to our audience in both fluent Spanish and English. There is a definite multicultural and language aspect to the show and Edwin’s ease with this as well as his talent make him a major asset. The character Javier is actually very demanding of an actor. The musical talent is integral to the part. Edwin brings a balance of comedy and tenderness to this character that easily communicate to the audience. We felt very fortunate that Edwin auditioned for the role and it was an obvious choice to cast him.”
Edwin is found exhibiting his talents in a wide variety of films but in “Nina’s World” he has attained one of the most sought after avenues for actors, voice over work. His work on the show alongside such cast members as Rita Moreno, Mandy Patinkin, and others confirms this idea. This type of acting is much different than the usual process for actors as it is often a solitary performance. Perez concedes that it took some getting used to although he has become quite taken with it. He reveals, “Not having done voice over work before, I had this idea in my mind of what I thought it should be like. I used to think that I didn't need to use my body, but that's not actually true. I typically prepare to work the same way; behind the mic, in front of the camera or on stage. Ultimately, a character is still a person and a person doesn't just live in a face or a voice. It's the whole; how I execute the performance is what differs. In animation I physicalize my actions and take on the posture of the character, emoting and expressing even more vividly. The physicality and expression are the fuel. My voice is the delivery method so I channel everything I’m doing into my voice. You have to have energy in your voice. It has to be colorful and vivid because that's what the animators are going to use to bring your character to life. The unifying trait, at least in the way I work, is that I prepare everything for a performance. It doesn't matter to me if I'm on stage, behind the mic, or on camera I use everything that is available to me.”
When considering this show as his voice over debut, Perez confirms that he feels fortunate. The story lines are very straight forward, warm and positive. The entire neighborhood which Nina lives in is full of people from different walks of life and her adventures are always a journey of discovery. While the stories are directed towards youth viewers there is a social aspect that can speak to adults just as profoundly without being heavy handed. Every episode explores a different theme, discovery, or lesson like celebrating family, community, culture, and diversity. The essence of the show is that it is a person’s character which is truly important. In terms of the acting on the show, this is synonymous. In an industry which can sometimes favor image over ability, voice over acting is all about the character and what you can present as them.
Most of us watch cartoons as children and often do so even as adults. For Perez, the fact that he would someday become a part of these productions as a professional never occurred to him but he is ecstatic that it happened. He is eager to continue both his film and voice over careers. Edwin confirms, “Most recently I worked on a video game for Capcom. I'm not allowed to say what the game is but it's the next instalment in one of their award winning series set to release next year. I play one of the villains. Earlier this year I signed with The Character's Talent Agency so I am definitely going to continue to pursue more voice work in animation. Since signing with them I have had several auditions for shows like “Tarzan and Jane” and the Lego franchise. I am still at the early stages of my animation work but thanks to “Nina's World” I've had the opportunity to learn while on the job and have an amazing head start in the animation world. There are so many actors who are still fighting to break into that industry. I have one of the top agents for animation in town and I'm a lead in a successful animated series, which all makes me feel very blessed to be where I am. Continuing to work in both animation and film is a dream come true.”