Behind the Mic is a series of short interviews to celebrate the work of the actors who provided the voices for Mortuus Est: Legacy.

Today we have Nicole Dunseith, who plays investigative reporter Elaina Simms.

What made you want to pursue acting?

I’ve always wanted to be an actor. My dad used to take me to scam auditions just to shut me up as a little kid, but I was relentless about continuing. But…if I had to pinpoint my love for acting to a specific moment I would trace it back Jim Carrey’s “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”. I was in awe of the production design. The whimsy. The surrealness of it all. I was convinced. This world was real. And then the cherry on top…the next time I visited Universal Studios and saw the styrofoam set, I was amazed by how FAKE it looked. How did this hunk of junk fool me? I loved how something so disappointing in-person was so convincing on screen. That’s was it. From then on, I needed to be part of the magic that makes fiction feel like reality.   

Why did you branch out into voice acting? Was this always your preference, or is it an extra skill in your wheelhouse?

I’ve always loved the idea of voice acting. Growing up watching cartoons I always wanted to be in them. However, I don’t like to differentiate between voice over, stage, or screen acting. It’s all part of the same art, each with their own techniques and quirks to consider. The goal is to be a working actor so at the end of the day I am following where the opportunities are!  

What was it about the Mortuus Est story that drew you to audition?

I had just moved back to LA from college and I was looking to rebuild my community. That’s when I met Nik at my friend’s graduation party. We hit it off right away. We talked about being two SoCal locals trying to make it in this industry. No direct connections. Both determined, hard working Asian women looking up at the hill we’d have to climb. We had a mutual understanding of what it feels like being on the outside looking in. She started telling me about Mortuus Est and I loved it. A story with badass female leads. Spies. Action. Intrigue. I was hooked. I wanted in. About a year later Nik reached out for me to audition. Rest is history!  

How do you relate to your character when getting into their headspace?

I love digging into a character’s past and taking inventory of their given circumstances. Elaina goes through a lot. Death, discovery, betrayal. So it’s important to really explore how each of those moments affect you emotionally, mentally, and physically. How do you deal with trauma? How does the death of a love one affect your train of thought? What does it mean for your future? What is my body physically doing in those moments? My heartbeat? My breath? How can I recreate that in a healthy way? Where is my focus? Can I focus? There are so many questions to ask and chaos everywhere. As an actor I love building these in the moment before, allowing the momentum to inform the scene and letting it ride from there. Prepping enough while trying not to pre-plan too much. 

What was your favorite scene or moment from season one?

I feel like Elaina in most of season 1 is very upfront. She wears her heart on her sleeve. She is honest, earnest, and values authenticity. It’s the reason why she’s a journalist. The pursuit of truth! That’s why I loved my scenes with Marcus Desmond. There’s something about him she can’t trust. Something suspicious, dangerous so she puts on a mask and we get to see her sit in her power. She’s good at her job. Diplomatic, charming, and patient. We finally get a glimpse of her life before it all came crumbling down. She is tougher than she appears and knows how to hold her own.

Check out this clip of Elaina in action in Episode 2: “Brand New Day”

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