Interview: Echo Kellum

From the interview archives.

Echo Kellum amazes as Curtis Holt on the fan-favourite CW series Arrow which has just entered it’s seventh season. VULKAN had the opportunity to talk to Echo about how his experience on set has changed since becoming a series regular and what it was like filming in Nicaragua for his upcoming role in the film Village People.

What can you tell us about your role as Zak and the upcoming film Village People?

Zak is definitely a hipster. He’s the co-owner of the Village that the main characters come and visit in Nicaragua. He’s very new-age but he’s also trying to expand upon the business to get more clientele and make bigger profits.

Had you been to Nicaragua prior to filming? How was it that experience?

I’d never been prior to filming but it was an absolutely phenomenal experience. It was my first time ever venturing out of the US or Canada. The people there were so nice and generous. To see how people can live in other parts of the world where you don’t have necessarily a great septic system, and how people are just more laid back about life and very family-oriented…  it was a really cool experience to get to see that. Not to mention, the beaches were absolutely stunning. The howler monkeys were awesome.

You recently voiced King Joaquin in Elena of Avalor. What is it about voice acting that draws you to that art form?

I’ve loved playing characters, switching my vocals up and mimicking people since I was a kid, so voice acting brings me back into that. If I was to do that in live action, I’d need to have a costume and crazy hair. With voice acting, it’s a really cool experience to just be as boisterous as you can be, or timid, or whatever type of character you can play. You can just go in and lay the vocals for them to make this cartoon around it or add it into a cartoon they’ve already created. 

Who was your favourite voice actor or character from an animated series when you were younger?

My favorite voice actor growing up was Phil LaMarr. Everyone on The Simpsons is great too, but Phil LaMarr is a comedian, he’s black and he really represented what I wanted to do in the voice acting game.

Are there any specific challenges you have to work on that come with voice acting compared to live action film sets?

Yeah. One is that if your voice is shot, you’re toast. There is no coming back to ADR it, so sometimes it can be a little strenuous on your voice and sometimes you have to do so many different takes because they need it to sound a specific way, especially when you’re dealing with products and brands so it can be very taxing. You have to make sure you’re warmed up enough and that you definitely have a tea or Ricola to keep your voice and throat feeling nice.

How did it feel to be promoted to a series regular on Arrow?

It was definitely a dream come true. To be on that show in any capacity is such a blessing, and for them to feel like they want me in every episode and promote me was definitely the icing on the cake. I’m very proud of our show and very thankful they wanted me to be a bigger part of it.

Does it feel different walking on set now in Season 7 than when you first joined the series?

Only in a sense that I have more experience there and know pretty much everyone there, but as far as the way people treated me, the professionalism, the courtesy and the sense of humor everyone brings, it was the same from day one.

Has your work on the show inspired you to try any sports or classes that you otherwise might not have been drawn to?

Yeah, I’ve gotten more into Krav Maga, boxing and just fighting in general. It’s been a really cool awakening in my life to really dive into these things and it’s something I might not have tried if it hadn’t been for Arrow.

Have your family and friends taken to calling you by your character name, Mister Terrific, off set?

No, not at all (laughs). 

The season finale ended with a bang leaving viewers unsure of who of the cast survived. Can we hold out hope for Mister Terrific’s triumphant return?

You know, my livelihood as an actor hopes so! But I really can’t get into what’s going on in the next season but I really hope he makes a comeback and is better than ever.

Any exciting summer plans for you?

Well my summer’s over and I’m going back to work right now — I’m in Vancouver — but I did some pretty amazing things this summer. I went to Europe for the first time, I’m getting knee-deep into my album which I hope to release at the end of this year, and just trying to finish up a couple of writing projects. 

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