Letting your career find you

By Samantha Hazen

June 21, 2012

TRF alum Jessica DiCicco did not expect a career as a voice actress

Jessica DiCicco '02

“It happened by accident"

Jessica DiCicco ’02 was a second grader when her career in entertainment began. She said that actress Marlo Thomas came to her school in New York City to audition children for an ABC-TV special called "Free To Be Family." DiCicco caught Thomas' eye that day, and things unfolded from there.

“I kind of grew up auditioning on the side, with school always being first priority,” she said. As long as auditions were after school, she was allowed to go. Her first appearances were in "The Godfather: Part III" and the TV series "Kate & Allie" when she was nine and ten years old.

When it was time to choose a college, DiCicco knew she wanted to find a place that would broaden her experience and knowledge in entertainment. She had been doing on-camera work for Nickelodeon. “I wanted to produce or direct or do something on the other side of the camera,” she said. “I had been very interested in the process after being around it for so long.” She discovered the Newhouse School, applied, and joined the class of ’02.

But even before DiCicco arrived on campus, she connected with Newhouse alum. Mike Pecoriello (TRF ’96), a producer she had worked with at Nickelodeon. He approached her with a big opportunity.

Nickelodeon was developing an educational programming network called Noggin. She was asked a question that college students rarely hear: “Would you like to be the voice of the network?” Knowing that she would be starting college classes, the producers told her that they would gladly work around her schedule and that she could record promos from Syracuse. DiCicco worked with the network throughout her time in college.

Being a princess and other work

You can hear DiCicco’s voice on Cartoon Network’s popular series "Adventure Time." She supplies the voice of a new character, Flame Princess, who first appeared in Season Three. The show is in its fourth season and airs new episodes on Mondays at 7:30 pm ET. She has also supplied voices for the animated series "Pound Puppies" on The Hub network, Nickelodeon’s "Winx Club," and a Sesame Street video game called "Once Upon a Monster," released in 2011. She announces all the shows for Nick Jr. and is working on a new Disney show starring Mandy Moore and Lucas Grabeel (ABC’s "Switched at Birth" and "High School Musical" and ) among other projects.

DiCicco was nominated for a Daytime Emmy Award in 2008 for her role as Malina in Disney Channel’s "The Emperor’s New School."

"Adventure Time's" Flame Princess

A day in the life of a voice actress

Her typical day may include working for Nickelodeon in the morning and recording a session for Disney in the afternoon, switching gears from promo-mode to voicing animation roles. “It’s challenging in a good way,” she said. “It’s really all about making a character come to life and being believable and realistic, and the voice [of the character] that comes is secondary.”

DiCicco sees many of her former TRF classmates at work in New York. “They write the shows and it’s great that I have a strong bond with people in the industry,” she said. She remembers a particular course taught by television-radio-film department chair Professor Michael Schoonmaker that is characteristic of a hands-on Newhouse course. “I got to work on my own show and understand what goes into making a show,” she said. “It helped me with understanding what other people want for their shows.”