Sainty Nelsen Discusses Her Incredible Voice Over Career, and Balancing Mom-Career Life

Sainty Nelsen started as a child actor and is now widely known for her impressive list of voice-over roles. You have heard her as Pillow Cat in Gabby’s Dollhouse, Mee-Maw in The Loud House, Flo in Ridley Jones, and Nova Swift in Trolls: The Beat Goes On!, to name a few. I recently sat down with her to discuss her lengthy career and balancing work with being a mother.

Getting Her Career Started

Sainty explains that she has done musical theater all of her life, which is what set her up for her success in voice acting. As a child, she wanted to be like Molly Shannon from Saturday Night Live, who created many original characters for the show. 

Since she was a little kid, she would mimic and create her own voices. Then, when she was working with Denis Leary on a TV show, she was inspired to make a career out of it. He told her that she needed to get into voice-over roles, something he does a lot. She made it her niche, and look at her now. 

She not only has Denis to thank, however. Sainty raves about Susan Boyajian with Voice Connections, claiming she changed the game for her with her voice-over classes. It was in a class with her that she found her agency. She says that the minute you stop taking lessons is the minute you don’t want to work in the industry anymore.

Keeping Track of All The Voices

The number of characters that Sainty voices are astounding. Not just in different series but within them as well. There are several shows where she is the voice of several characters. So how does she keep it all straight? She claims that a huge help is the voice reference that the engineers provide before a recording session. She sings their praises and says she doesn’t know how they do it. 

She can sometimes go back-to-back if she is recording different voices for the same show. For example, for Gabby’s Dollhouse, she voices Pillow Cat and the Hamster Kitties. Sanity says she can go from one to the other while recording for them. However, in an upcoming show episode, Pillow Cat tells a story and does different character voices for it. “I play two different characters, but as Pillow Cat voicing these two characters.” She admits that confused her a bit, and so she did one take as one character and then one as the other.

Image Credit: DreamWorks Animation

For her character Flo, in Ridley Scott, she took inspiration from The Real Housewives of New Jersey. She was watching the show when she got the audition specs, which simply said “a strong independent woman.” She based the voice on Teresa Judaize and was told that is why she got the part.

Considering that she voices so many characters, I thought it would be fun to ask her which ones would get along well with each other. Sainty doesn’t even have to think about it before saying that love of fashion would unite her characters from Barbie Dreamhouse Adventures and Nova Swift from Trolls: The Beat Goes On! She says they would love each other.

Recording Years in Advance

People don’t often realize how long it takes to animate a series or film. First, the voices are recorded, but then it is usually years before that episode is released. Sainty jokes that she has become really good at keeping secrets because of this.

This is because the animators work off their voice performances when doing the animation. So the cast will record, do pick-ups, and then the animation begins. She explains that the currently airing season of Gabby’s Dollhouse was recorded when she was pregnant with her son, who is eighteen months old now.

Balancing Work Life and Mom Life

Her daughter’s biggest pickup line to friends is “My mom is Pillow Cat.” She has actually heard her say this at the pool, and it cracked her up. However, other than her role in Gabby’s Dollhouse, she doesn’t think her kids know it is her voice. She believes this is because Pillow Cat is a lot like her voice, whereas she changes it for other roles.

Being a working mom is tough. That is something that I can attest to personally as well. The two of us laughed on Zoom as we admitted we had on pajama bottoms but nice shirts. Sainty truly appreciates that voice acting allows her to work from home. She says she is blessed because if an emergency or one of her children needs her, she is right there to handle it. It’s a crazy world with PTA meetings and charity events, but she loves it. As with any working parent, finding that balance is important so that you can be as present as possible.

After taking a break from on-camera work to have babies and focus on her family, Sainty is just now starting to dive into the live-action auditions again. She hopes the world will welcome her back with open arms. Because of her incredible talent, I can’t imagine this not happening. 

Advice for Young Actors

Not only does Sainty Nelsen feel that taking classes is one of the best ways to get ahead in the business, she highly recommends getting to know the technical side of things. For example, most voice actors record from their homes, so they must know how to use the equipment and computer programs. 

She admits to creating her own reel when she was starting. She found commercials and took the footage, and added her voice-overs. 

Sainty explains that she went to college for musical theater and then moved to New York. And by then, she felt like she was already behind because she hadn’t worked fully in the industry yet. So starting as young as possible will certainly help if this is the career path that you want to go down.

You can hear Sainty’s voice in series such as The Loud House, Gabby’s Dollhouse, and Barbie’s Dreamhouse. She also teased an exciting upcoming recurring role on Spidey and His Amazing Friends.

This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.

Tessa Smith owns and is a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer-approved Film and TV Critic and a huge geek. Tessa has been in the Entertainment writing business for almost ten years and is a member of several Critics associations including the Critics Choice Association and the Greater Western New York Film Critics Association. She grew up watching movies, playing video games, and reading comic books -- and still loves all of those things. She proudly lets her geek flag fly and spreads the word that there is nothing wrong with being a geek.