Dave Fennoy is one of the most prolific voice actors in the video game world. But he didn’t set out on this path originally.
In the 1980s, Fennoy worked in the radio industry, becoming a morning disc jockey in California. In the late 80s, things changed.
“I took a course with an agent in Los Angeles and after it was done, she said, ‘you’re kind of talented. If you ever come to LA, we’d like to represent you,’” Fennoy said. “She handed me her card and I said, ‘I just might do that sometime. Right now, I’m the morning jockey for the No. 1 station in town, but I got your card.’”
Turns out, he’d need that card sooner than he thought.
“About three months later, the radio station fired me and everyone else on the air and I had to go find that card,” Fennoy said.
Little did he know, that would be the start of a long career in acting in a variety of projects from television to video games.
It wasn’t until 2012 when Fennoy voiced Lee Everett in season one of Telltale’s “The Walking Dead” that he had a career-defining role in the video game world.
“They hired somebody else to be Lee,” Fennoy said. “They did the whole first episode, listened back and decided it wasn’t working. That’s when I got an email that they wanted a real, natural performance.”
“The Walking Dead” world intrigued Fennoy. He soon found something more — a complex character.
“(Lee) was a college professor who was married. His wife was cheating on him and he caught them and he’s on his way to prison,” Fennoy said.
After the zombie apocalypse allows him to escape the police car, he sets out on an unexpected journey.
“His redemption was taking care of this girl named Clementine whom he happened to meet,” Fennoy said. “I think people related to that relationship. A person who wasn’t perfect, but wanted to be and had chosen to do something really good to redeem himself for something he did that was really bad.”
Fennoy was nominated and won awards for his performance that year, though midway through recording he found out some unfortunate news — Lee wasn’t going to survive the first season.
“My initial reaction was not the most positive,” Fennoy said, laughing. “In my head, I thought, ‘you’re going to kill me? I was looking for three or four more seasons of this.’ In retrospect, it would not have had the impact on the video game community and the fans had Lee not died.”
Fennoy has been in some of the biggest gaming franchises out there, including “World of WarCraft” and “Gear of War” after appearing in “Gears 5” in 2019.
But “Gears 5” also was a reminder that you can’t get overconfident.
“It was an understanding that no matter who you are, not everyone knows you,” Fennoy said. “I was the third choice for that game.”
Although Fennoy wound up being the perfect fit for his role, it was a gentle moment to show that no matter how much you’ve accomplished, you have to earn your role every single time.
“The director told me that I was his first choice and that he told that to the people at Microsoft and they said, ‘Who’s Dave Fennoy?’” Fennoy said with a smile.
Fennoy also does more than act. He’s helping to train the next generation of actors through his voice acting classes. And that has proven to be as rewarding for him as acting.
“It really is much more rewarding than I thought it would be,” Fennoy said. “There are few things in life better than sharing information with someone and they take it to heart and find success in the career they’ve chosen because of you.”
As video games have increased in popularity, Fennoy said he’s seen the art form start to grow up from its early days to something that is becoming mature right before his very eyes.
“You can be in the story,” Fennoy said. “This never happened before in human history. It’s so monumental. But it’s been such an easy intrusion into entertainment because we don’t think about it.”