|On the occasion of the release of "Generator Gawl", the new animé series from ADV Films, the production company (one of the foremost in producing and distributing animé in the U.S.) had Corey Henson interview the cast to learn more about them, and their thoughts on this latest offering from ADV.
What follows is the interview that Corey conducted with Jay in Fall of 2001, which was to be posted on the company's website, and seen in various Animation magazines:
Jay Hickman, the voice of "Koji" in ADV Films' Generator Gawl, was born on the snowy peaks of the Himalayas to a Sherpa guide and a Christian missionary. During his younger days, Hickman would captivate audiences by mimicking Chi Tsu, Nepal's top Harry Connick impersonator. The Dalai Lama himself raved about young Jay's ability to imitate the man who was imitating the man who imitated Frank Sinatra. At least that's what the biographical information Hickman sent us said. Personally, we think he's mad as a loon. He is a musician, after all.
Your family moved around a lot when you were growing up, and you describe yourself as an "oil company brat". What was it like having to travel the world growing up?
You're saying that like it's a bad thing! Seriously, though, I loved it - what I can remember of it, anyway. Beyond the obvious benefits of getting to travel and see all the sites, living abroad helped me to learn how to acclimate to almost any situation, and taught me to be more accepting of different cultures, personalities, etc. And, most importantly to my line of work now, it was great for learning accents!
How long did you have to do it?
I was only one month old when my family started getting shuffled around the planet, and we continued to get re-located to *some* exotic locale or another, until I started high school (and on INTO high school, if you consider New Jersey to be exotic... as some people do.)
Besides Texas, what was your favorite place to travel and why?
Hmm... Not an easy question (and no, it's not because I only like to travel in Texas!) I've been incredibly fortunate in getting to visit so many amazing places, but I'd probably have to say: for sheer volume of culture packed into such a small geographical space, Europe was my favorite.
You hold a degree in Biology from Rice University. What motivated you to get a degree in Biology, and why did you decide not to use it for a career?
An interesting question, because it is so easy for ME to answer, yet so confounding, I'm sure, to someone who may not have an "artist's heart"... I've always been fascinated by the sciences, particularly those biological, so I decided to pursue it as my degree. It wasn't long into my collegiate career, though, before my interest in performing began to overshadow my interest in organic chemistry and amino acids... So, before finishing my degree, I took time off from my studies to try my hand at the singing and acting. I'm sure those doctors, lawyers, farmers, and barbers out there would call me crazy... but I can't help it - I'm an entertainer at heart!
How did you get into singing?
What can I say? I got bitten by the bug! Like many of my contemporaries, I imagine, I was encouraged from an early age to find my own way to shine; be it singing in the junior choir, or starring as the singing turnip in Mrs. Johnson's 3rd grade class play. But I did these things begrudgingly, as I was sort of shy as a youngster. Later, in high school, when I learned that singing was a great way to get girls, I put a little more effort into it...
What are your main musical influences?
Wow - so many. I know it's a pat answer, but I really do love just about all of it. However, since I've been a swing/jazz singer for last 3-4 years, I would have to say that the singers of that genre have had a huge influence on the way I like to be when I'm on stage. Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, Mel Tourme, Benny Goodman... all the greats. They are icons for a reason!
What do you listen to for pleasure?
Well, if you read my answer to the last question, then you would know that it's Abba, Crystal Gayle, N'Sync, and the Pogues...Kidding. I listen to a lot of the stuff that has influenced me, with a healthy dose of rock, pop, and classical mixed in for good measure.
How long have you been acting, and how did you get started?
Well, you know already that I got my start in third grade... but I've been doing it seriously for about 10 years now. I began doing a few plays/musicals in high school, got more serious about it in college, and then, when I took my "hiatus", I got an agent and started acting professionally.
What was your first gig?
My first job as a professional actor was in a TV ad. It was a wonderfully sappy commercial for "Mississippi Power", where I played a college freshman (four years after I had actually BEEN a college freshman...) who is nervous about his first day in the dorms, and meeting his first roommate, etc. Well, needless to say, everything works out great in the end... all thanks to the electricity supplied by: Mississippi Power? (Okay, so I was never really clear on the premise, but that's how it went!)
What else have you done in acting?
I have been fortunate - I'll be the first to tell you that. This is a terrific profession, and I've had a blast getting the chance to step into all these different pairs of shoes to portray different characters. I've done some community theater, some children's theatre, radio commercials, TV commercials, corporate training films, I've been very proud to work in a couple of movies, like "Rushmore" and "Apollo 11", and I've been *especially* proud to do some voice-acting for the good folks at ADV Films.
What has been your favorite role?
You want me to say "Koji", don't you? Okay, I will. Koji
Any goals as an actor?
Well, it's tempting to say that I would love to be a big Hollywood movie star, but I'd like to be realistic as well. So, I guess I want what anyone would want in a job: I want to be able to make a living doing something that I love. It's been working okay so far, but my goal is for it to keep going!
Koji is the more mature of the three leads in Generator Gawl. How similar to the character are you?
Apart from our three-foot-long, green ponytails, we really have nothing in common. Okay... kidding again. Sorry. I guess if I were to really analyze myself (and I don't like doing that too often, but I'll do it for you!), I would say that there are probably some personality traits that he and I share. I imagine that the director [Steven Rocket] probably recognized this long before I did, so some credit must go to him for his casting choice! But, like Koji, I do tend to be pretty cool under pressure, well-mannered but firm, and possessing of a pretty dry sense of humor. I would not presume to speak of my maturity level compared to those of my two fellow actors (who I really enjoyed getting to meet and work with!), but I think I have been recognized for being pretty mature from an early age... Except in junior high, of course, when EVERY girl was more mature than EVERY boy in whatever grade I was in.... But I'll bet Koji didn't have that problem.
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