Asian American Actors Want More Opportunities for Asians in Anime Voice Acting

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Some Asian voice actors are lamenting how most anime voiceover jobs still go to white A-List artists who are already dominating voiceover work in feature film and television in the U.S.

Hope for better: Voiceover actors at anime entertainment company Funimation expressed in a recent interview with IndieWire that they are hoping there is still room for more Asian talent in the predominately white dubbing industry.

  • Emi Lo, Apphia Yu and Shawn Gann are pushing for more discussions about voiceover opportunities for Asian and Asian American actors.
  • Lo said she wanted to act in films, but the lack of on-screen representation held her back, with even her parents telling her that she’s not “pretty enough.”
  • Gann had some onscreen acting roles, but they were limited to characters based on his Filipino features.
  • Voice acting has allowed the actors to play various characters, ranging from small roles and villains to lead characters.
  • “When it comes to voiceover, I play a lot of blondes, a lot more than I would have expected starting out,” Yu said. “Having that freedom to play outside how your body looks really appealed to me.”

Time for change: The spike in anti-Asian crime and discussions about the lack of Asian representation have made anime voice actors realize how their own industry can improve.

  • Anime dubbing studios are reportedly run by predominately white people who Gann says will often hire those who “look like them.”
  • They also point to the anime itself, which often plays on creators’ own misconceptions of the West.
  • Gann pointed out that while anime characters are often portrayed with blonde hair and blue eyes, they are still voiced by Asian actors in their countries of origin.
  • Studios may continue the practice in the U.S. where a “rich diversity of performers” exist, the actors said. According to them, A-list stars aren’t needed to sell movies that are often aimed at a younger audience.
  • “I’m not mad if ScarJo [Scarlett Johansson] plays the Major [in ‘Ghost in the Shell’] as long as I get a fair shot at playing Black Widow,” Yu said, highlighting the lack of overall fairness in the entertainment industry.

“Trese,” an upcoming Filipino animated series from Netflix, is taking a different approach as it features Filipino artists doing voiceover work for the Philippine version and Filipino Americans doing the U.S. version, NextShark previously reported.

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Feature Image via AniBox Trailer Access (left), @kitsunesqueak (right)

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