Jeremy Shada's voice brings to life the character Finn The Human on the wildly popular Cartoon Network animated series Adventure Time. However, his presence at events like the Lexington Comic and Toy Convention brings out the show's fans and the character's admirers in all their costumed glory.
"They're so fired up about it," the 18-year-old actor says. "You'd be hard-pressed not to see 10, 20 or 30 Finns walking by here and there."
Before Shada became the voice of one of the many characters in the vibrantly colorful, insanely imaginative and incredibly unpredictable Land of Ooo, he was a kid who caught the acting bug pretty early. The Boise, Idaho, native moved to Los Angeles with his family and was following in the footsteps of his older brother, Zack Shada. He initially wanted to be a stage and screen actor, and at that age, he didn't really think about how far his voice could take him.
"I literally started acting when I was, like, 5. So, I didn't realize that was a thing you could do," he says. "You actually realize how much there is and how much goes on behind the scenes."
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Shada spent much of his early acting career doing small voiceover parts and TV movie roles; it was actually his brother Zack who first did the voice for Finn the Human (then named Pen) in creator Pendelton Ward's first Adventure Time short back in 2007. It debuted on the Nickelodeon series Random! Cartoons in 2008 and was shelved. But when Cartoon Network decided to pick up Adventure Time in 2010, Shada had the right voice at the right time.
"We looked up the pilot, and my voice at the time sounded extremely similar," he said.
Now, Adventure Time is into its seventh season. Shada thinks the show has flourished with audiences young and old due to its animation style and occasionally "over-the-head humor," but also long-form story arcs and character development.
"Finn's kind of getting older and just dealing with different things," Shada says. "There's just the craziest freakin' humor in the world in there. But, deep down, it has a lot of heart, too."
Like the world of Adventure Time, Shada's own blossoming career is becoming more devoid of boundaries. He has started to do more live acting and was a main actor on the Cartoon Network sketch comedy show Incredible Crew from 2012 to 2013. He also plays bass in the pop-punk band Make Out Monday, which he formed with his brother Zack and some of his closest friends. The group's first EP, Kicking Cars, was released this past November.
Despite his desire to pursue a post-Adventure Time career, getting to step into a vocal booth and bring Finn to life still excites him.
"First off, I'm literally screaming at the top of my lungs on a regular basis," Shada says, laughing. "He's just so constantly full of energy. The screaming. The battle cries. It's so much fun."
With the success of Adventure Time, Shada is usually doing events like the Lexington Comic Con once a month, and getting to meet the fans and see the reach and effect the show has gives him a different but equally rewarding feeling.
"A lot of times, I've had people say, 'I had a really hard time in my life, and Adventure Time was the one thing that kept me going,'" he said. "It's kind of a humbling thing. It reassures me and reaffirms everything you're doing to entertain people."