Lee Steinfeld, aka ‘Leonhart’, is living the dream of being able to take a passion for Pokémon and turning it into a viable successful online business. At the time of this interview, he is about to hit 400,000 subscribers on YouTube. Before becoming a YouTuber, Lee was a licensed attorney in Dallas, Texas. He is utilizing the skills he gained from his law education for his online business. He is also an actor and voice actor having done work for shows like One Piece for Funimation Entertainment. In addition to being an online personality, he uses his presence to help raise funds for charity. By reading Lee’s interview below you can learn more about him and what he’s up to now…
Wendy Shepherd: Hi Lee! Congrats on your success so far! How did you get involved with acting and voice acting?
Lee Steinfeld ‘Leonhart’: I never really had any major voice acting lessons, but had always been able to control the range in my voice. Several years ago I made a character demo reel (1 minute audio clip of myself showcasing the range in my voice as if I was voicing characters in a show) to submit to Funimation Entertainment here in Dallas, Texas. A friend had told me that Funimation gets tons of submissions every day and I would likely not hear back. To my amazement I heard back from Funimation within the next day or so! Since then I’ve hired a local talent agent to represent me for potential acting gigs ranging from commercials to movies!
WS: What are the acting projects you’ve been involved in so far?
LS: For voice acting, I’ve done dozens of voices for random characters from anime such as One Piece. For traditional acting, aside from the smaller projects, I was principal actor in two national wide commercials. The first was a SAG commercial for Ford that first aired during the Winter Olympics in February 2018. The second commercial was for Cici’s Pizza and was played throughout the United States as well.
WS: Do you have plans to delve into acting and voice acting going forward?
LS: I am always honing my craft to be able to get new ventures. I plan on spending more energy this year on picking up new projects and hopefully more opportunities.
WS: Why and when did you start your ‘Leonhart’ YouTube channel?
LS: After seeing the difference big YouTube creators made on the lives of millions, I wanted to do the same. Being hesitant at first, I created my first video with the mission to raise funds and awareness for various charities and concentrate on creating videos revolving around nostalgic video games. Little did I know that when I did a video showcasing my old Pokémon card collection that the channel would grow massively. I’m proud to say Leonhart is one of the biggest and most successful Pokémon channels on YouTube with almost 400,000 subscribers!
WS: When were you first exposed to Pokémon?
LS: I don’t remember the exact day, but it would revolve around the hit anime show as well as the original Pokémon Red and Blue Game Boy video games. Soon after, Pokémon mania swept our schools even more with the official trading card game. That same nostalgic feeling of opening up Pokémon booster packs I felt as a kid is still felt to this day whenever I open up newer Pokémon card sets.
WS: How does your experience as a lawyer help you with your YouTube channel and acting work?
LS: It’s kind of funny; I went to law school, graduated and successfully passed the bar exam yet here I am making videos on YouTube for a living. I couldn’t have gotten to where I am today without the knowledge and skills I grew while I was in law school and as a practicing attorney. With regards to my YouTube channel, I create the videos, edit, design graphics, run marketing and interact with fans. Honestly the list of things I do keeps on growing each day. I know that the interpersonal skills I’ve grown through my time as an attorney along with all the research helped me tremendously to tackle being a one man team.
WS: What parts of the world do you hear from fans of Pokémon the most?
LS: Pokémon originates from Japan; however the power of Pokémon is felt throughout the entire world. While the United States is where most of my fans reside, I still have fans reaching all the way in Australia! Shout out to all of you!
WS: Who are some of your favorite top 5 or 10 Pokémon YouTube Collaborators?
LS: I’ve had the privilege to work with some incredible creators through my time on YouTube. I honestly couldn’t fit them all on here, but I just have to say that I’ve worked with big and small YouTube channels. You’d be surprised just how talented some small YouTube creators are and I truly believe one should give them a chance regardless of their channel size.
WS: What advice do you have for YouTubers who are shy or afraid to show themselves on their channel?
LS: I’ll admit, it does take getting used to chatting in front of an inanimate object, however, once you get used to it, it comes natural! As a child, I was very shy and even to this day I’m a shy person which surprises people when they hear that. I’ve worked hard to improve my interpersonal skills for not only interacting with people real-time, but on camera. If you’re shy on camera, keep on practicing! The more mistakes you make (which you can learn from) the better. As long as you’re acting like your genuine self and enjoying the content you make, people will notice.
WS: How many hours a day and a week to do you spend preparing, planning and creating content for your YouTube channel and social media outlets? Do you take any time off?
LS: I don’t really take any planned time off unless I’m traveling, but even then I’m still responding to fans and brainstorming. What’s fun about my job (if you can call it that) is that every single day is different. While I am my own boss, it’s even busier than when I was an attorney, however I’m having fun doing it so it’s not bad. I try to put my phone away semi-soon before bed, but I can’t help myself chatting with fans or responding to emails! I honestly couldn’t put a number on the amount of hours as one week could be a lot busier than the other. All I will say is that if you love what you do, it doesn’t matter how many hours you put into it.
WS: You were recently invited to Los Angeles as an influencer for a sneak peek event of the relaunch of Bakugan, which is airing again on Cartoon Network. Can you share more about it and how you got selected to attend the event?
LS: Bakugan was an incredibly popular anime, toy line and card game back around 2007. Toy company Spin Master, known for Paw Patrol and Hatchimals was going to relaunch the show, new toys and especially a more advanced trading card game. I, along with only a handful of influencers, were selected to attend the sneak peek because they felt our personalities fit for what they were looking for and our fans would be interested in it. After attending the event and posting a video log (VLOG) of my experience at the event, it was interesting to learn that many of my subscribers used to watch and/or play Bakugan. I urge everyone to checkout Bakugan now playing on Cartoon Network and toys in stores!
WS: It’s wonderful knowing that you are raising money for charities through your social media channels online. How much have you raised so far and what are the names of the charities?
LS: I’m all about raising money and awareness for various causes, especially in the realm of mental health. To this date I have raised over $20,000 for charities such as the Child Mind Institute, Mental Health America, Grant Halliburton Foundation on Mental Health, American Red Cross, Save the Children, Breast Cancer Research Foundation, CurePSP, American Heart Association, Toys for Tots, Children’s Medical Center Plano and several smaller organizations.
WS: You also have guest appearances at conventions. What event(s) are you attending in 2019?
LS: My confirmed guest appearances will be at DFW Pokémon Regional Championships in January and Let’s Play Gaming EXPO in July. However, as the year goes on I’m always making spontaneous appearances at conventions around the United States. In previous years I was a guest at Dallas Comic Con and several smaller cons.
WS: What other plans do you have for 2019 and beyond?
LS: 2019 is going to be bigger than ever! I already am planning my next big charity fundraiser for mental health awareness and I promise it will be incredible. I have to keep most things secret for now, but between my traditional acting ventures and my ever-growing YouTube channel; the future is limitless and I hope you will all join on this amazing journey.
WS: Thank you for doing this interview Lee! Best wishes with everything!