Greg Cipes is one busy Renaissance man… or should I say Renaissance dude? It seems like he can and has done it all! This accomplished professional and one time surfing champ gave one of the most laid back and fun interviews I’ve done in a long time. Whether it’s his numerous appearances on television and commercials, fronting his reggae band Cipes and the People, or lending his voice to Teen Titans’ Beast Boy, Cipes enjoys life and lives it to the fullest. With his many accomplishments, this interview could have gone down many different avenues since Greg has so many diverse talents. But each one has a story to tell. For instance, did you know Greg is one of the best voiceover artists in the industry and that he a dedicated vegan and so are his dogs? Or did you know that he performs and composes reggae/hip-hop music? But it’s his ranking as the # 3 junior US professional surfer in 1998 that will come in handy this week as we watch Greg hit the beaches with our undercover surfers Kensi and Deeks on the latest episode of NCIS Los Angeles, Skin Deep. We began the interview by asking this Florida native how he knew he wanted to break into the entertainment industry.
I was inspired by my parents and my grandparents who were small bit part TV and film actors. My grandfather was in the first Super Boy series and my grandmother was in some Frank Sinatra movies and they inspired me at pretty young age. It was really in my blood and there is nothing I would rather do than be in the entertain world.
You are interested in so many areas of the entertain world from actor, to voiceover artist to director, producer, and musician. What do you enjoy doing the most?
People tell me that you can’t do it all and you got to pick just one but I always held all my interests all on the same level and I only do what I love the most. I work on putting them all in the same project as much as possible, whether it’s music in my voiceover work, or if I’m in a TV show or movie, I try to integrate my music into that. I’m always crossing over because I love everything I do equally. If I didn’t love what I do, I wouldn’t do it.
Growing up in Florida you developed a love of reggae. How do you describe your music because you seem to have a lot of other influences in your music as well?
I’m definitely inspired by reggae music because of the positive vibrations that come from the music. At the age of 2 years old, my parents were bringing me to the Bahamas and I heard reggae music which made me feel good, so naturally I gravitated towards it. There I was at five years old dancing around the room to Bob Marley. My spirit felt good because it was happy music. So reggae music is kind of the core of my music and Jim Morrison and the Grateful Dead inspire me as well but ultimately it was the greats like Bob Marley and Bob Dylan and even Will Smith because I’m working on a version of his Fresh Prince of Bel Air work!
How did you get in the voiceover business?
There’s a cool story here. I have nine brothers and sisters and my dad use to drive us around in an RV and I would sit on his lap and we would talk to other truck drivers on the CB radio and I was doing weird voices and one day my dad said “One day you’re going to do cartoons!” And twenty years later I’m part of the biggest animated show on the planet. My agent, Melissa Berger really gave me the opportunity to hone the craft because she heard my voice one day and said you have a cool voice and you really should be doing voice over. Andrea Romano, the best and most sought after voice director in the world gave me my first break, starring in Teen Titans for Warner Brothers. Now she’s directing Ninja Mutant Turtles which when I grew up with and was my favorite show and now I get to be Mikey. That leads me to NCISLA which means I’m part of the biggest animated show in the world and the biggest live action show in the world!
Speaking of NCIS Los Angeles… Can you tell us a little bit about your time on the show and your character?
It was really cool because on the set I was sitting there and I recognized one of the stunt men who was a pro surfer who I grew up watching and I got to hang out with one of my childhood idols as a surfer and I got to hang out with one of my childhood idols who was a musician… LL Cool J!
At the table read I got to find out how cool, fantastic and sweet the whole cast and crew are. Maybe sweeter than any show I’ve ever been on. Everyone greets you with big smiles, it’s authentic and you can tell everyone loves what they are doing. The table read was more like a party and a celebration than a table read. Everybody is having a good time laughing, but the topics are serious and the issues they are exploring are real but yet they are having a good time which is why I like the show so much. These are all such likeable characters.
My character is very much like me, he’s a surfer and he lives in Venice. I had a blast and I loved filming in Venice. I worked with the beautiful Daniela Ruah and the blond, goofy cop, Eric Christian Olsen who I also worked with on Kick Buttowski a couple of times doing voiceover work. And they may want to bring me back so there may be some more NCISLA in my future!
We hear you have a new CD coming out soon?
My album is being mastered right now and is part of my new show and a vehicle to get my new music out. So by the top of the new year my new album will be on its way to be delivered to the people. I have been working on the album every week for the last four year, because you can’t force art and it’s my dream music, the music I always wanted to create.
What’s next for Greg Cipes?
Well, Teen Titans is coming out again next year and a lot of people love that show. We’re also recording the second season now of Teenage Ninja Turtles. I have two more movies coming out in the next month and I’m also doing a show on ABC called The Middle which I have a recurring role in…and my Fresh Prince of Bel Air work. I’m having fun and most importantly I have my dogs with me and they are the best. I wouldn’t want to be alive without them. They are my acting teachers and they are always truthful because that’s what acting is all about…living truthfully in every circumstance. Dogs know that and they have your back. You can’t lie to them. I only want to be part of making the world a better place and making a difference.
A big thank you goes out to Greg Cipes in this week’s interview chair and we look forward to all of Greg’s future projects including his new CD coming out next year. If you get a chance, check out Greg on Roseanne Barr’s reality series Roseanne’s Nuts and the new season of Teenage Ninja Turtles on Nickelodeon. You can follow Greg on Twitter: @gregcipes or on his official web site: www.gregcipes.com.