Home 1on1 1on1: Leah Cevoli from Robot Chicken and Deadwood

1on1: Leah Cevoli from Robot Chicken and Deadwood

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Favorites:

Artist:  I will always be an 80s rocker girl!  Poison, Skid Row, Guns ‘N Roses, Cinderella and Bon Jovi just to name a few!

Song: It depends on the mood. I love everything from musicals to heavy metal!

Book: My book shelf these days is lined with yoga teacher books, reiki books, self-help books, and things of that sort.  I do love a good novel tho, Anne Rice, Stephen King, and V.C. Andrews are some favorite authors.

Movie: I love horror movies- Halloween, Children of The Corn, and Carrie.   I also love musicals like Grease, Sound of Music, Bye Bye Birdie and Wizard of Oz

TV Show:  I’m currently enjoying the Handmaids Tale, my other recent fav would be Game of Thrones.

What was the first acting role you ever booked?

5th grade!  They cast me as the new kid in the school (I was), in a little educational piece about the school’s new reading program. 

How did you book Robot Chicken?

I booked Robot Chicken thru a chance connection on the social media site Friendster. (for you young ‘uns – it was the platform before myspace). Matt Senreich, co-creator of Robot Chicken had just moved to town from the east coast and reached out to me as one east-coast transplant to another.  We met up for coffee one day, and he filled me in on this new show (Robot Chicken) that he and his partner (Seth Green) had just sold to Cartoon Network.  He offered to keep me in mind if anything came up, and a few months later, I got the call.

What was the first character that you played on Robot Chicken?  

Believe it or not, Sabrina the Teenage Bitch *was* the first character I voiced.  It was also my first animation voice over job ever, and since I was still a non-union actor it was also my taft hartley into the screen actor’s guild.  It was a huge moment in time for me.  I remember showing up to record that day and I’m introduced to Seth Green for the first time, who then turns and introduces me  to Mila Kunis and Macauley Calkin who were in the studio that day.  It was one of those life moments, where the voice(s) in your head are going “is this real life?”

I guess I did okay though, because they brought me back for 9 more episodes, across four seasons of the series.  I am forever grateful to Matt, Seth and the whole team over at Stoopid Buddy for believing in me and giving me that opportunity.

What was your inspiration behind your character Sabrina the Teenage Bitch?  

Well, the show does a lot of parodies, and Sabrina the Teenage Bitch – is a direct parody of Sabrina the Teenage Witch.  I watched a few clips of Melissa Joan Hart’s character ahead of time, just to reacquaint myself with the character’s vibe, energy and vocal quality.  The story goes  that Melissa was supposed to voice the character herself, and due to contractual obligations with Disney had to pull out at that last minute – that’s when I got the call.  I was able to meet her not long after at a Robot Chicken party – and thanked her for helping me earn my sag card.

What was the audition process like for Deadwood? 

Technically, I never auditioned for my role on Deadwood.  I was brand new to Hollywood and registered with the local background casting places.  When Deadwood came around, I was picture-picked to be a core background gal in the Gem Saloon for Season one.  However, the show’s creator David Milch, who is unlike any showrunner/producer/director I’ve ever met or worked with, took an interest in everyone on his set – from the top to the bottom. He didn’t treat background like props, they were established members of the town, with job titles. If you showed a real interest in the world and the characters he was creating, he noticed.  He would write things on the spot for actors on his set, including the core background.  I was lucky to be amongst a small group of actors that he put on a scholarship for acting classes during the show’s hiatus.  It was an unwritten rule, that if the show was shooting – you made yourself available day or night, and when the show was on hiatus, you were in the classes that he sent you to. By the time season three rolled around, my character had a name, and I was a recognizable  part of the Gem Saloon.  David had spoken to me about a scene he was writing to take place with myself, and a few of the other gals, and then one day, I got to set, and was told my wardrobe and my contract were in my trailer.  It was the first time I ever had a trailer or dialogue on a television show.  I sat down in my trailer and cried tears of joy.  So I guess, in retrospect, my Deadwood audition was an on-going evaluation of my work ethic and my commitment to the show and my character over the first two seasons. 

What was it like filming Deadwood? Was it filmed here locally in LA? 

Deadwood was filmed out on the famous Melody Ranch, in Santa Clarita, Ca.
We were in the elements.  When it was hot – it was hot, when it was cold – it was cold, when it was wet – it was muddy, and it was always dusty.  We worked incredibly long days, we worked early hours, we worked late nights, and for my character and the other gals, we did it in our pantaloons!

I can’t say enough about David Milch and the cast and crew of the Deadwood series.  It was like being a part of a master class, getting to watch and interact with actors like Paula Malcomsen, Ian McShane, Robin Weigart, and Tim Olyphant on a daily basis.  Actors like Gerri Jewel, W. Earl Brown, Jim Beaver, and Dayton Callie took me under their wings and continue to be people I consider mentors and friends. We also had an amazing team behind the scenes, award winning hair ,makeup, and costume designers….many I’m still friends with today.  It was a dream team.

What was it like working with Sean Astin on making Remember the Sultana?

Sean is amazing.  He’s super smart, incredibly kind, and has a ton of energy.  Sultana was actually our second project together – originally Sean hired me to help out with his kickstarter campaign for his podcast, Vox Populi.  We hit it off instantly, and worked really well together and I went on to become the project manager for season two of his podcast. 

A year or so later, I got a call from Sean that a buddy of his from his Goonies days’ needed my help with a feature length documentary about the greatest maritime disaster in American history. (Remember the Sultana) and when Sean calls, I always enthusiastically say YES.  We dove into that project together, and took it thru a successful $108K Kickstarter campaign all the way thru to distribution. I became deeply involved and ended up becoming a co-executive producer on the project, for the many hats I wore. It was also a real treat for me to be able to hand-pick our all-star voice cast, including Deadwood alum Jim Beaver, Jim Cummings (Winnie the Pooh), and Bob Bergen (Porky Pig).

One of the things I love most about working with Sean – is that he really champions the people around him.  He is a strong leader and an incredible team player. He doesn’t rest on his laurels, he’s typically the one pulling more weight than anyone.  He elevates the strengths of those around him.  He’s not one to pull the “oh I’ve been working in hollywood longer than you, so I know best card”, in fact it’s the exact opposite.  He’ll call me up, and say, hey I don’t know much about this, what do you know?  He’s also extremely fair and a great mediator to have on any team.

You are the Queen of crowdfunding. Any tips for indie filmmakers?

Yes, take more time than you think you need for the pre-production phase. The average success story took 1-3 months prepping their campaign, planning a calendar, shooting, editing and creating additional content.  Don’t just throw up a video and expect people to find you.  It’s a full-time production. Treat it as such.

Also have a realistic goal – there’s nothing that kills interest and momentum more than a campaign who set their goal too high.  This requires being brutally honest about your team’s network and social media presence. And lastly, book a consult with me.

Any exciting projects you’re working on that you’d like to share with our readers? 

Currently, I’m laying low, socially distancing, and enjoying day trips out to secluded nature spots.
I’m also thankful for my voice over agents, who have kept the auditions coming during these strange times we’re living in.

On the horizon, check me out in supporting roles – in writer/director Robin Bain’s next two feature films. I play Dr. Dorothy Link  in The Last Exorcist  premiering this October, starring Danny Trejo; and then I play social worker Karen Lloyd in Girl Lost: A Hollywood Story, the sequel to the critically acclaimed film Girl Lost.

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