It’s no exaggeration to say that Zeno Robinson is one of the busiest and most prolific voice actors in the industry. In the past year alone he’s been involved in some of the biggest projects of his career including regular roles in major franchises like Transformers: EarthSpark on Nickelodeon and Disney’s Big City Greens. Not to mention dubbing big name anime properties, most notably the Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero film for which he received a Crunchyroll Anime Award nomination for Best VA Performance (English). In the new Legion of Super-Heroes animated film, Zeno adds a new superhero to his credits with Invisible Kid.

The Beat had the chance to chat with Zeno Robinson not only about voicing Invisible Kid but also about his career and his meaningful encounter with the late/great Dwayne McDuffie.

Taimur Dar: The Legion of Super-Heroes has appeared in animation over the years including their own titular series in 2006 that ran for Kids’ WB network. As someone who obviously grew up watching cartoons, I’m curious if that Legion of Super-Heroes cartoon was something you watched yourself as a kid?

Robinson: It’s funny that you led with that. I’ve been answering a lot of questions as someone who grew up watching the Legion of Super-Heroes cartoon with Yuri Lowenthal as Superman. I definitely have prior knowledge of that Legion of Super-Heroes cartoon. I remember waking up in the morning and getting a bowl of cereal and that was one cartoon that was on during Saturday mornings.  

Dar: If I’m not mistaken, your first DC Comics animation role was Cyborg in Young Justice. Any actor who voices Cyborg will forever be in the shadow of Khary Payton. But since you’re the first person to portray Invisible Kid in animation, you’re not beholden to any previous performance. How does voicing a relatively unknown character like Invisible Kid compare to bigger name characters like Cyborg?

Robinson: It’s very much like you said about playing a character like Invisible Kid as opposed to playing Cyborg. You worded it really well. With Cyborg he has an established sound [and] voice. I grew up with Khary Payton Cyborg and some of that influence was in my performance. But with Invisible Kid it was an opportunity to put my own stamp and spin on the character. It was cool to establish a voice. There was no other actor that laid the foundation for me to the follow. It’s all laid by me. The cool thing about playing Invisible Kid was setting the tone for his personality.  

Zeno Robinson
LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES and all related characters and elements are TM and © DC. © 2023 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Dar: The voice director for this Legion project is Wes Gleason, who also directed the Super Sons animated film where you played Jimmy Olsen. I’m curious if you had worked with him before these projects and if he approached you directly?

Robinson: I actually don’t think I worked with Wes before this, which was cool. I was really surprised to have gotten the email not just for Jimmy Olsen but for Invisible Kid. I’m kind of curious what it was. I was sort of hoping he heard me as Cyborg and thought, “This guy’s good.” I don’t think I worked with Wes previously but he’s such a cool guy. I could tell he loves directing so much and he loves working on these so much. It was evident in the room when I was working with him. I’m very honored and thankful to him. Shoutout to Wes for even trusting me with the responsibility of these characters and thinking of me.

Dar: Most people are well aware that the Milestone character Static is your dream role and you wear your love for the character on your sleeve. Like most people, including myself, you first encountered the character through the Kids’ WB Static Shock cartoon. Can you talk about your early experiences with Static as a fan and how your love for the character has grown over the years.   

Robinson: It’s interesting. A lot of people have asked me about my dream role and it’s always been unanimously Static. I grew up watching the show [during] Saturday morning cartoons like normal. I remember watching it again when I was 13-14. It was probably my third rewatch of the show. It made me aware of my racial identity. [I said], “Oh wait! He’s Black. I’m Black. Black people can be superheroes!” I never even put that together as a kid. I just watched it as a show as a kid. I think it really influenced my whole career from there and how I look at media because it made aware of how important representation is. I pursued anime because I didn’t see enough people that looked like me voicing these characters. The way I view storytelling and champion diversity and good and accurate representation all stems from me watching Static as a kid and seeing myself in him.

He was a nerd just like I was a nerd. He was different from a lot of the Black superheroes that I had at that time. He felt more like me and that made him more human to me. That really endeared me to him. I spent a lot of my time waiting for him to show up. Even when the New 52 launched, I bought his comic the first day. And now with Nikolas Draper-Ivey’s run on Static, I’m buying the volumes and every issue and every variant of every issue. I’ve been waiting for Milestone to come back for a very long time. It even introduced me to the wider Milestone Universe with Icon and Rocket. I bought the old school volumes of Icon and Static: Rebirth of the Cool. It just made me aware of the different types of storytelling and representation that’s out there and what it can be. That’s also why I like Young Justice a lot because Greg [Weisman] is also a champion of that.

Dar: I can’t bring up Static without mentioning the late/great Dwayne McDuffie and I’d be remiss if I didn’t ask you about him since you had the privilege of meeting him when you worked on Ben 10: Alien Force, which was your first animated voiceover project. I recall you showed off your phone with the Static wallpaper. I’d love to hear any more fond memories or stories you wouldn’t mind sharing.  

Robinson: I can’t believe you remembered that! I feel like I shared that with you at Comic-Con or something. That is my most fond and I think only memory I have of Dwayne. I remember I walked into the table read of that episode of Ben 10: Alien Force. That was back when it was called Ben 10: Hero Generation. My mom had actually looked him up and told me that he was the one who made Static. She knew how important Static was to me. I didn’t put this together until a couple of interviews ago but I was 14 at the time, which was Virgil’s age in the cartoon, saying how much this [character] means to me. He’s my phone background. That was back when Static was in the Teen Titans [comics] and he first got reintroduced into the DC Universe. From then on, [Dwayne’s widow] Charlotte [Fullerton] would Facebook message me from time to time saying, “Hey Zeno! I hope you’re doing well. Dwayne would always think of you. Whenever your name came up he would say it’s like ‘Zeno’s Paradox.’” It was also cool to know outside of that one interaction we had, he still thought of me.   

Legion of Super-Heroes is available now on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack and Digital