By Samantha Simmons
AnimeWorld Insider got the chance to interview another great actress from FUNimation, Alexis Tipton! We had a great time during the interview and got a pretty cool look at Tipton’s career and life as a voice actor.
So how long have you been a voice actress?
I have been a voice actress since about late 2008. So about four years.
Have you ever been involved in live-acting, such as on stage or film?
Yes, I actually came from a theater background so I started acting on stage around kindergarten and then on and off for a couple years, and then really got into it around middle school and high school. I started working for FUNimation once I got to college, so I already had quite a bit of theater behind me. I still do theatre when I can, it just that it takes so much time so that I don’t always get to do it as much as I want to. And as of earlier this year I started getting into film as well. That’s probably the area I have the least experience in, but I’m hoping to transition into film eventually.
Tell me about some of your favorite characters or roles of anime you’ve been involved with.
I think one of my all-time favorites is that of Yomi in Ga-Rei Zero. And that’s because so much of the time, the characters that I voice are kind of the same. They’re the sort of cutesy high school girls that maybe have some of their own bad-a moments, but for the most part they’re cute, maybe a little fan-servicey, but Yomi in Ga-Rei Zero was none of that. She was so hardcore, she was so tough, she goes through a period of time where she actually gets possessed, so it it’s a completely different character from an already really tough, really focused character, so it was really fun for me to get to do that because I don’t have a lot of experience with those kinds of characters.
Another favorite of mine is probably Mizuki from Baka and Test just because on the opposite end of the spectrum, she is sort of stereotypical type cast for me. But she’s probably one of the highest voices I’ve gotten to do, whereas Yomi was probably the lowest. So it was really fun getting to push my voice to the limit in the opposite direction and getting to be all cute and sweet and squeaky.
So what’s the process of auditioning for a voice over role?
Well what they have you do is you come in for the audition, you sign in and they have these little binders for you that have pages for every single lead role of the show that you’re auditioning for. And for every single page, there is a picture of the character, a brief synopsis, sometimes it specifies age, sometimes not, which can really help when trying to figure out which voice you want to use. And then there’s a sampling of about 10 or so lines that you can read over and see what you’re comfortable with, see what you might think fits within your vocal range. And you pick 2-3 different chataters that you’d like to read for and then when your time slot comes up, the director calls you in and then you read for the characters.
Sometimes they give you notes on how you do it over again because you go in there completely blind. You have no idea what’s going on, these lines are taken out of context. So they’ll kind of work with you a little bit, and they might ask you to read for something you weren’t anticipating reading for if they think that fits you better. You just kind of go from there and they finish everyone else’s auditions, you wait about a week or two and figure out if you got something.
Oh, just a week or two?
Yeah, sometimes it’s pretty quick. Sometimes it can be as little as five days. We’ve had auditions where an audition will take place on a Wednesday and a Thursday and a Friday, they deliberate over the weekend and then they start booking people the following Monday. So sometimes it’s really fast sometimes it’s a little slower. Depends on the show.
Have you ever been cast as a character that you didn’t like or didn’t want to play?
Well, first of all I’m always thrilled whenever I get any work, period. I’m very thankful for every role I’ve ever gotten. I think the closest thing to maybe not liking a character I’ve ever experienced was just maybe having to say things that I didn’t necessarily want to say. Or make “noises” that were a little uncomfortable. We don’t dub hentai or anything like that but we do have some very fan-servicey shows. Sekirei is a prime example, there’s a lot of, you know “Lets be suggestive!” that kind of thing. Definitely B-gata H Kei there was a lot of that. I’ve never gotten a role I didn’t like, but I have had moments of being very embarrassed, things that I’ve had to say.
What do you like most or what’s the best thing about being a voice actress? The worst?
I think the best thing about being a voice actress is being “paid to play,” that’s kind of what we call it. I get to make a living doing silly voices and being different characters, and as an actress that’s just a dream come true, getting to do something that’s just so much fun. I think the worst part of being a voice actress is probably the fact that whenever I record projects and finish them I can’t talk about them for a really long time until they get announced.
During panels, today at this convention, people would ask questions and I’d be like “Well, I wish I could truthfully answer that question but I would have to talk about a character that I can’t talk about yet, because FUNimation hasn’t released any kind of news,” so that’s always kind of pain when I’m really excited about something and I can’t share it for a couple of months … And I have to be careful because I can get in such trouble if I say something out of line.
How did you familiarize yourself with anime?
My dad started working for a Japanese company when I was in elementary school, late elementary school. He would go to Japan a lot, he still works for that same company, and he would bring back these wonderful things from Japan that were new and exciting. That kind of got me interested in the culture at first and around that time we moved to California because of my dad’s job from good old Kansas.
I started watching Toonami after school and I didn’t realize it was called “anime,” I just thought they were cartoons. When we moved to Texas some years later I fell in with a group of girls who really liked anime and we’re still friends today and they asked me when they met me “Do you like anime?” and I said “Oh, you mean animation, like cartoons?” and they were like “No no no, its Japanese anime,” and they explained to me that Toonami and all the things I had been watching on Toonami were in fact anime. They kind of educated me from there.
I’ve been to Japan several times, France, spent a little time in Ireland. I haven’t been to every state but I’ve been to at least half of them. I love travelling; it’s one of my favorite things.
So there are rumors in the anime world that have been confirmed about Sailor Moon. Are you a fan of Sailor Moon at all?
I am, that was actually one of the first shows I ever saw, even before Toonami. I remember I would catch it occasionally on TV but I was so young that I couldn’t remember–I didn’t pay attention to what time it was or what channel it was. It was just one of those “Oh you know every once in a while there’s this cool thing, where girls transform and there’s pretty colors and interesting music.” As I got older and I realized that show was called Sailor Moon and it was an anime. Then I got more and more into it.
I would love to voice Sailor Venus. I think that would be so fun. She’s always been my favorite, and if I got that chance … I think a dog would be crying somewhere because of how high I was squealing.
Awesome, because I was going to ask also, that the rumors, half of that, people seem to be speculating that FUNimation is going to get a hold of it.
I hope so, that’d be awesome! Since FUNimation owns so much of the anime market in this country it would be logical. So many things have to be done when making decisions and Japan has to decide lots of things. So hopefully, keeping our fingers crossed at that title.
Another thing is that people seem to put a lot of trust into FUNimation. There’s not so much of that whole “Dubs versus Subs” anymore.
As a voice actress how do you feel about that, that people look forward to seeing their favorite anime coming to FUNimation and hearing your voice with their anime?
First of all it’s just fantastic. I try to thank people as often as I can just for supporting the industry, especially FUNimation’s projects. Because I remember when I had first gotten into anime it was hard to find. It was on VHS. [Monica Rial] and I were talking at a panel earlier today about how anime is really affordable now, it’s easy to find, anime conventions are sprouting up all the time, the fandom has just grown considerably, even in the last five years. So I feel very honored and blessed working for a company that is sort of the front-runner.
At the panel [AnimeWorld Chicago] with Monica and Chris you spoke about how you and your friends did video game voices for fun [before becoming a voice-actress]. Have you been in any video games?
Actually that’s sort of a new development, something I’m getting into. I’m going to go ahead and say it because I’ve heard other people talking about it so I assume its okay. I actually do some voices in Borderlands 2 that’s coming out soon. I know I can’t say who yet, but I’ve got some stuff in Borderlands 2 coming out, there’s a game that I did voices in that’s kind of like a Neopets knock-off, I can’t remember what is called, and then some other game where the main character is like a marionette and he breaks out of the puppet show and starts to run from the people pulling the strings–I did some random little things in there, I can’t remember what it’s called. I’m hoping to branch into more video game work but right now it’s the least amount of stuff I’m doing.
Okay, so finally just the last, fun, crazy question. It’s your day off from working, what are you doing?
What am I doing on my day off, the funny thing about having a day off is most people would think “Oh a day off, yay I can do whatever I want.” A day off for me is a day off but it still needs to be kind of busy because I’m so used to being busy that I go kind of crazy and don’t know what to do with myself if I have nothing going on. But I enjoy reading, I enjoy watching movies, going to the movies, I enjoy cooking and baking. I just recently started getting into Deco-Den.
What is that?
It’s when you make fake food out of clay and stuff. I think its pronounced Cabochon, the little plastic pieces that you stick in fake whipped cream and make little [things]. But its jewelry, you make it into jewelry and accessories and stuff and so that’s fun.
I play video games sometimes. Yeah, anything that’s not “be idle” I guess.
Alright, so any fun facts about yourself, any new projects you’re looking forward to, anything?
Oh my gosh, there’s so many good shows coming up, I can’t talk about them! I guess just be on the lookout for new announcements from FUNimation because we’ve got a lot of really cool shows coming up.
We want to thank Alexis Tipton for the great interview and for joining us as AnimeWorld Indy and AnimeWorld Chicago! Stay tuned to AnimeWorld Insider for updates about the latest FUNimation anime and Tipton’s latest roles!