Arts & Culture

Cameo: Linda Ballantyne

Our interview with the voice actress from Sailor Moon.

You are the voice of Sailor Moon. For the uninitiated, explain who that is. Sailor Moon is the guardian of justice. She fights evil by moonlight and wins love by daylight. That’s the best, condensed version. What I usually tell people is she saves the world!

Well, she’s a hugely popular Japanese anime character. Well, there’s that too. I thought you meant what does she actually do in the show. Sailor Moon was one of the original anime that came over from Japan in the ’90s. You know, what was kind of magical about Sailor Moon was the fact that it bridged a gap between two countries that were, 40 years earlier, at war with each other. And so that, I think, is probably part of the reason why it has lasted and done so well over time.

She’s hugely popular with girls, too, because she’s a strong female character. Well, not just her. There are five [female Sailor Soldiers]. Everybody has one of the five that they can identify with. ‘That’s me, I’m the tomboy,’ or ‘That’s me, I’m the brainy one,’ or ‘I’m kind of the sexier one who’s sort of flirty.’ And a lot people have come to us and sort of said, ‘I didn’t have friends growing up. I lived in a small town and there was nobody there for me. I always looked for a friend. I knew exactly what I wanted in a friend because I watched Sailor Moon and those were my friends growing up. And later on I was able to find my friend and she’s exactly like Jupiter!’ They’ll say stuff like that, and you’ll go, ‘Awww, that’s so nice!’

How did you get involved with Sailor Moon? Like every other part that I’ve ever done, I got called. My agent said, ‘I have an audition for you. It’s for Sailor Moon. There’s a bunch of different characters that they’re trying to cast.’ And I was like, ‘Oh really, which ones?’ ‘Well, da da da da da and Sailor Moon.’ And I went, ‘Really?! They’re casting Sailor Moon?’ So I just went to an audition like everybody else. Basically, every actress in the city that wasn’t already in the show was there going, ‘I wanna get this part, I wanna get this part.’ And I just lucked out.

Did you originally intend to be a voice actor? I went to theater school when I was younger, and they give you classes for everything. They have dance classes, voice classes, you name it. And one of the ones that they had was voiceover class, and as soon as I put the headphones on and got in the booth, I knew that this is something that I wanted to do. I loved everything about it. I loved how free I felt. I was able to get out of my head and just act, and I don’t think it’s that easy for everyone. I think that I was really lucky. I think that I just naturally had that talent in me. So I just fell in love with it.

And then, one day, when I was at theater school, they brought it a professional to talk to us about voiceovers and this woman had done everything. And as soon as I heard her voice, I went, ‘OH MY GOD, I KNOW HER!’ And I just ate up every word she said. She talked about the difference between doing boy voices and girl voices. She talked about all kinds of things, and I just sat there drinking in all this information. And that woman was Susan Roman who plays Sailor Jupiter. And she has since become a very good friend of mine and she lives right around the corner from me.

I guess the other perk to being a voice actor is no hair and makeup. That’s probably the best part. I mean you should always go in looking decent because if you’re walking in there with an egg-stained T-shirt on, they’re going to go, ‘Oh, um, she doesn’t take herself too seriously,’ or ‘She’s not that professional.’ So, you want to look decent but, it’s not like going in to do an on camera role.

What roles are your favorites? Oh my god, I’ve done everything. I’ve done everything right across the board. It just depends. I’ve done a lot of boy voices, a lot of girl voices . . . my favorite voices to do would be villains. I love doing villains. The villain is always the biggest character. They’re so crazy, and they always lose. And they can never believe it when they lose! They’re just like, ‘HOW COULD THIS HAPPEN?!’ And they have this big crumble and I love that. It’s the most fun, for sure.

You do a lot of fan conventions. Actors seem to either love them or hate them. How do you feel about it? You know this weekend [July 3 through 6] over at Anime Expo [in Los Angeles, CA] was unprecedented. I’ve never seen a reception like that in my life. It was thousands and thousands of people. It was insane. And you’re just sitting there going. . . . So many people come over to you weeping and saying, ‘You don’t understand, you are my childhood. I’m looking at my childhood right now and I don’t know what to do.’ And I’m just like, ‘Oh, my God, you’re my adulthood. You’re making my day, that’s for sure.’

What do you say to that? It’s a really heavy thing to say to a person. It’s a really heavy thing, and when I first started doing these conventions, I had no idea. When I first started meeting the fans, I knew that they liked the show, but I had no idea how much it affected them. And at first, I was really taken aback and going, ‘I don’t know what to do with this.’ People we like, ‘Can I please have a hug?’ And I’d be like, ‘Yes, complete stranger, come to me and hug me.’ And I very quickly realized and sort of acknowledged in my own brain that we’re not complete strangers, that we’ve known each other since they were children. Maybe we’ve never met face-to-face, but we were both there for each other. They were there for me, because that’s why I got to keep doing the show, and I was there for them. And they’ll start weeping and I am not going to go, ‘Oh, weird person, back off.’ I just decided I was going to accept the love they were going to give me, and I tell you, every time I go to one of these things, I come back so full. I have so much energy and I’m so full of love. That’s all they want to do, is give you love. How do you turn that away? I don’t think so. I’m no idiot.

You’re coming to Baltimore for Otakon August 8 to 10. Have you been before? No, and I’m dying to. I’m just like, ‘Ooh, this is so exciting!’ Yeah, it sounds like it’s going to be a really, really good event, too. Some of them are bigger than others. I’ve gone to some that are really small, and others that are really big. They’re all fun, but this one? I’m really looking forward to it.

What are you going to be doing at Otakon? We’re going to be doing everything. I haven’t even seen the whole schedule yet, but I know that we’re going to be doing a bunch of panels and we’re certainly going to be doing a lot of autograph signing. That was one about Anime Expo: They didn’t schedule as much time as they should have, quite frankly, for autographs, so we had to turn a lot of people away, which was just destroying. So this, we’ll be able to be there for a long time, we’ll get some autographs signed, that’s for sure.