A Conversation with Lisle Wilkerson
Jay Snook was able to sit down with Lisle Wilkerson at Fanime and ask her a few questions
Here is a short bio on Lisle Wilkerson:
Lisle grew up in Tokyo, Japan and moved to the US in 2008. She speaks fluent Japanese, and has been hosting radio/TV shows in Japanese/English ever since she was 19 yrs old.
Lisle is best known as the powerhouse behind such kick-ass female video game characters as Nina Williams, Christie Monteiro and Zafina from the Tekken franchise, Sarah Bryant from Virtua Fighter, quite a few characters from Shenmue II, many of the female voices in CRAZY TAXI 1 & 2, and Christ Monteiro in last year’s Streetfighter vs. Tekken game.
Lisle was also in the 2003 Academy Award winning Sofia Coppola film Lost in Translation, and played a principal role in the 2006 award winning indie film Kamataki.
She is currently based in Los Angeles, and works as a freelance voice over actress, as well as being a local correspondent for the Academy Awards, Emmys, Golden Globes and Grammys for Japan.
She also hosts a weekly entertainment TV show on NTV BS in Japan, and also hosts a weekly radio segment on INTER-FM. And she also works as an interpreter, sometimes doing interpreting for anime con guests as well.
Is this your first time at Fanime?
Lisle Wilkerson: It is, this is my first time. I am very happy to be here.
What other Cons have you attended?
Lisle: Let me see. I have done a lot. I have been at everything from A-Con to AWA, Anime Expo, ALA. So yeah I have gone all over the place. I usually do about two conventions a month. I have been doing this for about 3-4 years now.
What was it that got you into video game voice acting?
Lisle: That kind of happened organically for me because I was on the radio. I started off with radio when I was 19 and at first I was only on the staffing side. I helped run a really popular morning show in Japan, a Monday through Friday show. That led me to wanting to do radio because I was always a huge music lover. I was doing radio and a lot of times on radio you get asked to do commercials or various kinds of voice-over work. That led me getting an opportunity to be in video games. It kind of went from there. I had a few agents I was signed up with in Japan so I started doing a lot of video game work. That is kind of how it started for me.
What is your favorite character you have voiced in video games so far?
Lisle: One of the top ones would be Nina Williams from Tekken. I really like her because she’s obviously a very strong character in the game. The description is cold blooded assassin so she is really powerful and kind of out there. Yet she has a vulnerability about her with her relationship with her sister and her son. I like to be able to work with characters who are multi-faceted in their emotions and their personality.
What Tekken is Nina Willaims from?
Lisle: She is also in Tekken 7 but I am not in that game. With Nina Williams I was in Tekken 4.Then I was Christie Monteiro for Tekken 5 and 6 and also Tekken vs. Street Fighter.
Have you done any voice work in Anime?
Lisle: I have done some Anime work but not here in the States, so it has been in Japan.
Are things done differently in Japan or are they the same as here?
Lisle: No, they are very different actually.In Japan with Anime, not as much with video games, but with Anime when they record the entire cast is brought together. It is a luxury that I know that a lot of voice actors who do a lot of Anime for Funimation or Bang Zoom, we talk about this all the time. They always say that ” you know, it would be so wonderful to bring the whole cast in and be able to really act off of each other.” I think one of the reasons that it is done in Japan that way is because most voice actors do not have their own home studio and also just because Japanese culture is still very much about doing things, I don’t want to say old fashioned. They prefer to have everyone together being able to control everything.
What are some projects you are working on right now?
Lisle: I just did something but I am not allowed to talk about it yet.
What do you think is the hardest part about being a video game voice actor?
Lisle: I think this is about being a voice actor period, not just video games but in the voice acting community, it is a tough industry you know. You’re always hustling, always looking for the next job. Also there is no guarantee, it is not a consistent job. When we do the voice acting panels a lot of times we will all be together and one of the questions that will come up is “what do I need to do to become a voice actor?” I say this all the time, I know most of the voice actors say the same thing is that it is a very unforgiving business. It plays on a lot of insecurities. You have to constantly be putting yourself out there and getting rejected time and time again. So really make sure that is what you want to do. If that is the only thing you can think of doing and then be a voice actor. Don’t just do it because “Oh yeah, it sounds kind of cool” and then get into it. That is not a good reason because it will be a very, very tough ride. I think just the consistency, it is really hard to kind of keep relevant. That way it is really similar to a lot of the other entertainment industries.
What are some characters you hope to play in the future?
Lisle: I can’t really think of any. I would love to do Wonder Woman, like that kind of character would be a lot of fun. I love the kind of kick ass female characters. I just want to beat up people and stuff if I can.
What would be some advice you would give to those who want to get into voice acting?
Lisle: I would say make sure it is really what you want to do. If it is then fully commit. The entertainment industry in general is not one that you dabble in. It is either you have to go all the way and just be along for the ride. Know that it is not going to be easy but just keep going. Because I think that so many people will get into in and they’ll quit just as things maybe would have happened like a few more months down the line. I think that is one of the hardest things about the entertainment industry. You have to fully believe in yourself and just really commit to it, make it happen.
Any final things you would like to say before this interview is over?
Lisle: Um, let me see. This is kind of a little bit similar to what I said with voice acting but this has recently been a big policy of mine. Just really enjoy life. Life is too short and it seems like especially nowadays. I don’t want to be a debbie downer but we keep losing all these icons in music and everything and it just goes to show how fleeting life is. You just never know. I know a lot of people who struggle with depression you know, there are a lot of things. It is a tough world we live in right now but try to really enjoy it and go along for the ride.