We interviewed Alexis Tipton, an American voice actress who has been performing in anime and video games for the past nine years. Her many roles and performances include work in Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia, Fire Emblem Heroes, NieR: Automata, Rosario X Vampire, Guilty Crown, and Sakura Quest. Based in both Dallas and Los Angeles, Alexis started out as a voice actor for FUNimation but also works as an ADR director, actress, and singer.
Otter Lee (AsianCrush): What was the process of auditioning for and voicing Clair (from Fire Emblem Heroes) like? Do you relate to her at all? What were some of your favorite lines or scenes with her within the game?
Alexis Tipton: This was an awesome case of the client hearing my voice in another project and requesting me to play Clair. So there was no formal audition. I was called out to LA and found out what we were doing when I got there, haha. It was an honor and also kind of nerve-wracking because Clair was one of the client’s favorite characters. But we had a lot of fun! I definitely relate to her preferences on how to be wooed, especially the “my heart belongs to the man who takes time to know me before he loves me” bit. She was a blast to voice and I loved how we got to see so many sides of her depending on who she was talking to and what her relationship to them was.
What did you think of Clair’s romantic prospects? Did you wish she had ended up with Alm or Tobin instead of Gray?
I actually love that she ends up with Gray. I feel like they are good for each other in a lot of ways. Mostly because they learn from each other and help each other grow. And by the end of it, they regard each other in a totally different way than how they began. It’s like night and day and there’s an awesome journey in the middle where they both learn from their past mistakes. Gray also fights for Clair and never gives up on her no matter how she treats him and I think that’s what ultimately wins her over.
What was it like voicing Julia Crichton for Full Metal Alchemist: The Star of Milos? What was it like to be such a pivotal character for a movie outside of the series? Were you familiar with FMA before?
It was really exciting to join the “FMA Family!” I was already familiar with the series so I knew it was a big deal and I was kind of intimidated, to be honest. But I had so much fun voicing Julia and really enjoyed the film itself. It was also the first time that I got to see one of my projects on the big screen. So that was VERY special and exciting for me.
You voiced Pascal in NieR: Automata, a robot who identifies as male, but uses a female voice. Was it difficult to voice such a tragic, complex character?
Complex characters are my favorite to play because they are challenging so I really enjoyed voicing him. Pascal is so lovable and sweet and good in a world where those qualities are rare. So when he too becomes the victim of unbearable tragedy, it’s even more heartbreaking. That gave me a lot to work with as an actress. That paired with awesome guidance from my director made the whole thing an awesome experience.
You have an impressive, extensive body of work. Which roles have you taken the most pride in performing?
Thank you! My favorite roles are the ones that either challenge me, bring me joy, and/or help tell a really good story. I’ve been fortunate enough to get cast in a lot of roles that fall into one or more of those categories, but a few examples would be Rena in ReLIFE, Alisha in Tales of Zestiria (both the anime and video game), Yoshino in Sakura Quest, and Tamazo in Puzzle and Dragons X.
When you land a new role, how do you prepare for it? Do you do any research on your own or listen to the Japanese version or do you only go off of what the director tells you?
Almost always, I have no idea what I’m even recording until I walk in the studio. Usually I only know the type of project (anime, video game, etc) and who is directing it. Even if I am able to do research ahead of time, I only look up trailers to get a sense of the overall tone of the project. In voice acting, especially dub work, Voice actors are forced to work within a very small box because we are adapting a pre-existing story with pre-animated mouth flaps that limit our line reads. We are not creating from scratch and we can’t change or edit anything, animation-wise. This is part of what makes it so challenging. I let the director guide me because my job is to help bring their vision to life but I also find that if I go in knowing too much, my performance is less authentic. It’s pre-planned and it will sound like that. I also want to be as creatively open as I can be and that requires starting from zero. I like going on that journey with the character and discovering/experiencing things at the same time they do. When I’m in the director’s chair, I prefer my actors to not watch or read ahead for the same reasons.
How did you break into voice acting? What were your performing experiences before?
I had about 10 years of theatre experience when I started Voice acting, but that was the only type of acting experience I had. Since then, I have diversified a lot. But at the time, theatre was all I knew.
I went about things the old-fashioned way and submitted my demo and acting resume on a whim to be considered for an audition and was lucky enough to get called in. I was a senior in High School. I went in, auditioned, and never heard anything. Fast-forward a bit. I graduated HS, went to college in a city away from home for a year and decided to transfer to a school back home in Dallas for my sophomore year.
A few months after my Sophomore year of college started, I was actually hired for a marketing internship at FUNimation because I knew someone in that department who thought I would be a good fit and it was important to me to learn about something that wasn’t acting since that’s all I knew. I’m a fan of back-up plans. When I was being taken around and introduced to everyone on my first day, the talent coordinator gave me a funny look when she heard my name and then told me they had lost my information in the move. When I had first auditioned, they were in a different location than they are now and were in the process of moving and lost my NDA contract with all of my contact info on it. She asked if I would be interested in auditioning again (of course I said yes) and immediately got my contact info again. Within a week, I was called in for another audition. It was with the same casting director who I had auditioned for the first time. I didn’t say anything because I figured she wouldn’t remember me. But as she was taking me back to the studio room to audition, she turned around and asked me if I had auctioned for her before, about a year ago. When I said yes, she re-iterated everything the talent coordinator had said.
About a week later I got the call that I had been cast. That was a little over 9 years ago. So I became a voice actor and a marketing intern within the same month. I did the internship for about a year and then had to quit because voice acting had long since taken over and it was becoming too difficult to balance the two. I was also still in school and was starring in an independent film that was eating up most of my free time so something had to give. But I had so much fun with that internship. I learned a lot and everyone was really good to me. It was an invaluable experience. I often wonder what would have happened if I had stayed away for college and never transferred home, haha.
Can you describe the best or most memorable interactions you have had at any conventions or fan events?
So many! Conventions are great and I love being able to meet people who are kind enough to follow my work. It’s extremely humbling and I appreciate the support so much. I love it when people give me fan art they have made and it’s so cool to see people cosplaying as characters I have voiced. Honestly, I get a little overwhelmed at conventions because people are SO awesome. If I had to give one example though, it would be the time someone gave me a very large, framed fan art picture of Inori from Guilty Crown.…Made entirely out of paper…She had layered the paper and cut through it with a knife to expose the colors…It is absolutely stunning and you can’t tell it’s paper until you get close to it. The image itself is also gorgeous…It’s Inori in her classic red/orange outfit, but she’s underwater. It’s very artistic and abstract so you can’t tell which way is the right side up because it’s so beautiful from all angles.
What’s something crazy that not even your biggest fans know about you?
Haha, I can’t think of anything “crazy.” But I guess something that most people don’t know or realize about me though is that being in the spotlight in any way, being the center of attention, or being overly-complimented (especially amongst people I don’t know) tends to give me anxiety. Which is why I am not as active online as some other actors are and why I tend to disappear pretty quickly after panels and autograph sessions when I’m at conventions. So if you’re nervous about meeting me at a convention, chances are, I’m nervous too! Even though I try my best to hide it, haha.
What are your favorite Spring holidays or traditions?
I miss Easter Egg hunts….I haven’t done one in a really long time but that was a BIG deal when I was a kid. I really want to get a bunch of adults together and do one. I also love picnics, if that counts! And going to the Dallas Arboretum to look at all the flowers. Something I have always wanted to do is participate in Cherry Blossom viewings/picnics. Maybe one day!