Sailor Moon is one of the most beloved classic anime shows of all time, and in 2014, Viz Media brought on a new English cast for both a redub of the original series and the new Sailor Moon Crystal, both a reboot and a more faithful anime adaptation of the original manga. The English dub cast were featured panelists at the first ever Anime NYC convention. AsianCrush was honored to attend a special press conference, and interview the attending cast members.
The following interview has been edited and condensed from a press conference that lasted for over an hour with multiple media outlets present.
Otter: How would you say you are similar to the characters you voice, and what were you all like in high school?
Robbie (Tuxedo Mask): Oh boy….
Stephanie (Sailor Moon): Other than eating a lot? That’s like the only similarity….
Amanda (Sailor Jupiter): You have leadership abilities….
Stephanie: But Usagi doesn’t really!
Amanda: She grows into it.
Cherami (Sailor Venus): She’s like the glue that keeps them all together.
Sandy (Chibiusa): Yeah.
Lauren (Sailor Neptune): You’re like that!
Stephanie: It’s like the glue that doesn’t dry until like the last second that you need it to bond.
Robbie: I guess Mamoru and I…. I know when I did the audition, I read the teasing in the streets part, sort of the first time I met Usagi, I was like “I can do this.” Yeah, that was pretty much me in high school, that was how I flirted. I just teased, and I was also a theater nerd. So all the big, silly Tuxedo Mask stuff came pretty easy.
Amanda: For me, Mako was my favorite, and I’m still like ‘Wow, she [Naoko] basically wrote me, it’s a biopic of my life!’ I played hockey and I played soccer and I also was kind of boy crazy. And to this day, I’ll still be like—I took it off my Tinder but I did have it on there for awhile, where I was like “I can probably dead lift more than you,” which is probably true.
Cherami: I was going to say, it should go back on because it’s true.
Amanda: It should go back on. And yeah, in high school, I was REALLY boy crazy, like to the point where I would be very threatening to the guys I liked because for some reason I thought “They’ll NEVER know I like them this way!” So I like threatened to put a flaming arrow through the guy’s heart. And I did for Valentine’s Day, but through a paper heart. It really worked. We have five kids together! We’re REAL happy!
Cherami: I didn’t think I had that much in common with Venus when I first got cast. And now as the show has progressed I’m having hard time figuring out where she ends and I begin. I love the idea of love and being kind to others and being compassionate, so the fact that she’s the guardian of love, I really enjoy and I wear that title proudly. I have cats, just as she does. Oftentimes, my jokes are terrible and really punny, and I say some stupid things more than I would like to. I love quotes. I try not to misquote as much as she does. And I’m very interested in, not so much pop culture necessarily anymore, but I love learning about people so I will read a lot of—I was telling them yesterday I learned far too much about Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding when the movie was coming up so I was recounting the whole story, and they were like ‘I don’t think that’s right’ and I was like ‘No no no, in 1994, this is what happened,’ which is a very Venus thing to do.
In high school, I was incredibly nerdy, I was a theatre nerd… I was somebody who tried to push boys away because I was afraid that they weren’t going to like me, so
I was threatening in the sense of like if some guy would come up to me and be like ‘Do you wanna hang out?’ I was like ‘Like with a group of people ‘cause why would we do that alone?’ ‘Cause I didn’t want him to like shut me down, so I often ran.
Amanda: I was gonna say, didn’t you literally run one time?
Cherami: I literally ran from someone once, it’s not one of my finer moments, but yeah, I feel like that’s a Venus thing as well. That’s why she doesn’t have a boyfriend. You can’t run …. Or date two of them at the same time. I NEVER did that—I swear to you!
I did not. I can’t! It would stress me out.
Chris (Pegasus): Well, I certainly have the snout of Pegasus.
Cherami: No! No, you don’t!
Stephanie: You have the mane!
Robbie: That’s a good one. Keep it—keep that one.
Chris: I’m just getting it out of the way before the comments get to it. Yes, when my hair was longer, I had the mane. In high school, I was starting to kind of make my creative stamp on the world. I was really starting to get out of my shell and be a little bit more social, so I was actually a lot like the opposite of Pegasus, where he has a lot of trust issues and that he was hurt very deeply by a lot of the lore stuff that is a little spoilery, and that it takes a lot of time for him to forge this bond with and trust Chibiusa who’s like the only person that he really communicates with at all.
I am not like that in that I am an open book with my emotions with most people. Certainly there are my Chibiusas in my life that I am like ‘Okay, this person I trust with like the really important things and the things that I’ve been hurt with etcetera’ of which there are actually some of those people among these fine folks.
But even like passed that, I’m like ‘I had a bad day today, Twitter, I’m going to tell you about it! Also, the Crystal Forest is weeping, somebody come help.’ He’s also far prettier than me, but I can live with that.
Sandy: Chibiusa, I think how I connect to her is when she first comes into the story she’s on her own, and she’s trying to figure her way through this world and she feels very responsible to save her mother, and I kind of grew up in a single parent household and I was very responsible for my mom at a very young age. So I really relate to a lot of Chibiusa’s mission and what she had to navigate through on her own as a small child even though she was nine hundred years old.
And also, when she becomes Black Lady, it’s really not that she turns evil. I mean, it’s that self-doubt and everything that Wiseman instills in her and reinforces that you know, she kind of goes into a dark place. She wants to destroy the world, but she goes into a dark place… I’ve been to those places as well, and I think that was helpful in playing that character authentically.
But probably in high school, I was more like Sailor Venus. I loved theater. I was homecoming queen and prom queen and captain of the cheerleaders, and I just loved life,
Lauren: I wish I was a lot more like Neptune because she’s a painter, she’s a musician. To me, I think she’s the perfect woman, so I would love to be exactly like her, but I’m still trying to figure out what similarities I have with her personally.
In high school, I was just a very insecure, shy person who just wanted to be one of the popular kids, especially in middle school, which I hated. I HATED middle school.
Chris: It’s the worst.
Lauren: It’s THE WORST! So, I’m still trying to figure it out.
Kate leans over and hugs Lauren.
Lauren: Aw, thanks, Kate.
Chris: For the audio version, they’re hugging right now.
Lauren: Thank you, radio host.
Kate (Sailor Mercury): Let me see. What was the question? It happened A LONG time ago. You know, when I went to a high school reunion recently, and I won’t tell you which one, people said to me ‘You were SO serious in high school.”
And I was like ‘I was?’ Because I think of myself as so not serious. Like, what do I care about? I don’t even know.
But, I am in my head a lot, I’m very in my head, and Mercury is kind of just like uptight. I’m not allowed to cuss, am I? She’s SO just. You know, I wanna just wring her little cute neck. RELAX. I think in that regard we’re similar, but I don’t think I was as super brainy, I know it’s hard to believe.
Otter: Can you describe the acting process for recording multiple versions of your characters between the original series and Crystal? Do you guys have a preference between the two?
Robbie: I think I trust the tone of the show. I think that’s a big part of it and our director guides us a lot in that way. So as long as you’re playing the same character in a different style—I feel like you can transplant any character into any style of play, and it’s still the same character. I feel like that’s what we’re doing with those two shows.
Sandy: I think that Crystal is just beautiful, and I do like the more film style pace of it. But I also LOVE the whacky comedy of the original, so I’m enjoying them both.
Robbie: That’s a cheater’s answer!!! He asked you to pick. Choose!
Cherami: I feel the same way. I started out doing film as a kid , film has always been near and dear to my heart, so being able to do anime and much less Sailor Moon, which is a show that I love with a very real, more film-like style in Crystal I thought was gonna be my absolute favorite, and I love it so so dearly. But then when I get to do these crazy, whacky episodes where Sailor Venus gets to be a nurse and take care of Usagi—poorly, or go on dates with two guys, and I get to hyperventilate for thirty seconds and almost pass out. It’s almost like doing a film version and a sitcom version with the same character, and that’s such a rare, unique opportunity, and I feel balanced when I get to do both, and if I wouldn’t get to do one, I would miss the other.
Robbie: You’re a bunch of cheaters!
Lauren: That’s a really, really good answer, Cherami. I was familiar with Michiru in the original series. I’ve seen it quite a few times. Crystal was completely new to me. While I do know where the story is going, the characters are a little bit different. I think Michiru and Haruka are definitely a lot more adult. They usually are represented as more mature than the Inner Guardians, but Michiru is definitely a lot more flirtatious, but I think that’s the only big personality difference I see between the original and Crystal.
Next, the cast also opened up about their experiences in performing prior to becoming VO artists.
Kate: I didn’t know what it [VO was.] I moved out to LA to do music… I fell into voiceover, and it’s a great match for me. If you’re an actress, you’ve kind always been an actress, it’s just who you are, but looking back on my life… I used to stand in the bathroom with like the toothpaste and I would look in the mirror and [say] “Crest.” I have so many memories of doing that. Reflecting on my childhood, I wanted to do it but I didn’t even know what it was, so it’s interesting that I fell into this career.
And I’ve always done accents **she segues into a Russian accent for this portion** and talked like many, different people, but now I have a place to do it, a platform that I’m gonna get paid for to do, so it’s very nice. And it’s perfect. Wonderful job.
Lauren: You ever get a Crest commercial?
Cherami: Can we get Kate Higgins a Crest commercial?
Kate (**Still with Russian Accent**): Yes. But it’s just perfect job because you don’t have to look like, you know you’re limited as an on-camera actress because looking this way, I’m only going to be hired to do certain things. You know like super model or something. No! They’re not going to hire me to be like big Russian woman. I don’t look like that.
Chris: Has anyone ever told you that you’re the best?
Amanda: I can vouch for the voice thing. We were doing that all day yesterday. We were annoying our Uber driver…. It wasn’t an Uber driver, what was it?
Amanda: Our Juno driver. We were all like **she segues into a British accent** in the car talking about politics and being really like ‘I just really feel like when I talk to my analyst,’ and we were kind of going in and out. And our driver was probably like ‘I’m gonna go home and hang myself!” Sorry, that just got really dark.
Chris: And then we went to the hotel and went back to dinner and stuff and stayed in them. **Also doing the British accent** We stayed in the British accents for like four hours. And Robbie was at the end of the table being like ‘What are you doing?’
Robbie: Ugh, you’re just like the living, breathing stereotypes of what everyone thinks voice actors are!! What are you doing?
Cherami: As soon as they walked in, I didn’t think anything of it. I just said “Did you guys start doing this on the way in?” And then I started talking to them in the accent as if them being around me, as if I had just assumed it because It was contagious….
I always wanted to be an actor. My goal as a child was to be on Barney. That’s all I wanted in the world.
Robbie: Wait, were you?
Cherami: No, I was not on Barney! I had an opportunity. I worked with the director of Barney on a faith-based series called Prayer Bear, and I was the bully!
Stephanie: Oh my God! I love this. I loved this so much!
Cherami: I beat people up in the series! I was the anti, like the example of what you tell good Christian children not to be; that was my character.
Stephanie: YES! You also stole!
Cherami: I stole things, I beat people up, I took a huge thing of cake with dirt in my nails. It was disgusting. I had a black eye.
Stephanie: There was a talking frog. It was my favorite! Prayer Bear!
Cherami: This experience, this was with the director for Prayer Bear, and I remember my eight-year-old self. It was my 8th birthday. And he was like ‘Hey, I want to have a conversation with you’ and for my eight-year-old self this was like the equivalent of Steven Spielberg. I was like ‘It’s finally going to happen; I’m going to be on Barney!’ And he was like ‘Everyone is saying you want to be on Barney, and I think it would ruin your career!’
Lauren: Cherami, how old were you?
Cherami: I was eight!
Lauren: That’s awful!
Cherami: So I remember, I got in the car and said, “Well, I’m not going to be on Barney. He said it would ruin my career,” and my eight-year-old self just thinking, “So this is what disappointment feels like.” And my little professional self was OVER the world.
Robbie: What child should have to choose between Barney and their career?
Chris: You DESERVE a Barney episode!
Cherami: I was always a career-oriented child, so I totally got that Barney would ruin my career. But it did really well for Selena Gomez and Demi Lovato.
Amanda: I wanted to be a performer, but I was really really shy. I didn’t want people to look at me, so I would tell my parents to turn around. I’d be like ‘I’m gonna perform right now, but don’t look at me!’ And they were like ‘this is going to be real hard for you to be an actor’ and they’d just scoff, but I got the last laugh.
Stephanie: You sure did!
Amanda: They were like ‘How are you going to be an actor if nobody sees you?’ And I figured it out.
Robbie: Perfect career.
Sandy: I always wanted to be an actor. I used to imitate everything on television as a little kid and for show-and-tell in kindergarten, now this is totally dating myself, but I wanted to be on The Dean Martin Show as one of the dancing Golddiggers, you’re going to have to Google that, but they’re these gogo dancers. So for Show and Tell I wore little orange fishnets and a denim miniskirt and I went in to my teacher and I put in a record and I gogo danced. And I was like ‘Ohhh, I wanna do more shows!’ And literally she goes ‘You’re going to the principal’s office’ and I thought ‘Oh, I am in trouble” but she was like ‘Dance, dance for the principal!’
My whole life, I just wanted to be on TV. I love acting, I love ensemble, I love doing musical theatre. I worked for Disney for 13 years onstage, and that was an incredible experience doing shows there. Yeah, I flew, well I can’t say that I guess, but I’m friends with Tinkerbell and Mickey and Minnie. But that’s when I was asked ‘Can you do this voice for a parade?’ And I took a voiceacting workshop, and I was like ‘Wow, this is incredible!’ It was with a woman named Sue Blu, who was a Smurf, and I said ‘this is really incredible. I love her passion. It’s exciting!’ So it kind of inspired me to move to LA and do VO.
I got my SAG card playing a space hooker in a movie called Super Force! I had this little tiny card and razor blade fingernails. It was like a futuristic show. I remember it was raining on the set and they go you’re going to have to come back tomorrow, but you’re going to have to leave those nails on. I was at like 7/11 getting whatever to take home. And the lady was like ‘I love you’re nails’ and I was like ‘Thanks, I’m a space hooker!’
Robbie: Mmmm, I’m SO glad this interview went to space hooker.
Chris: I’m an animator first and foremost. I was interested in VO really early on for the trivia side and also kind of for casting because I was like ‘Oh cool, I’m gonna get to voice my cartoons that I make some day!’ And lo and behold that happened.
I got interested in VO a little bit and actually kind of similarly with the Barney thing, I was like ‘I just wanna do an episode of Pokémon’ and then I met the director of Pokémon at a convention in this very city. This was like eight or nine years ago and uh I did the thing, I auditioned a couple of times. It was my first job. I thought ‘cool,’ didn’t think about pursuing it. Some things continued. Then I got a phone call from Stephanie one day ‘Hey, we’re doing this other anime.’ I’m like ‘What? Oh!’ Then I went in, did another anime and I thought ‘Oh, I think I’m okay at this. Cool!’ Then I started doing more of it. Then I moved to California. Then I did more there. Then I got on Sailor Moon and HOW did I get here? Like what happened?
Lauren: I’ve always wanted to be an actor since I was little. I started in theatre. And then in college, I took a voice acting workshop, which landed me my first anime role. And that was about 11 years ago. And Sailor Moon was the first anime that I ever watched as a fan, a long time ago. And now, I am playing my favorite character. So pretty cool!
Otter: Stephanie, as an Asian-American actress. How does it feel portraying one of the most iconic Asian characters of all time?
Stephanie: Now it feels okay, I guess. Now it doesn’t feel weird, but for a really long time it didn’t feel real. It felt like I was in the weird like alternate dimension universe. You know, like not in the normal universe. In the normal universe, someone else got cast as Sailor Moon.
Robbie: Oh, we ARE in that universe. We’re in THE WORST timeline… except for you!
Stephanie: Great. Awesome.
Amanda: I think Cate Blanchett plays her in the normal universe.
Stephanie: That would make a lot more sense.
She does an impression of Cate Blanchett as Sailor Moon: ‘Moon Prism Power Make Up!’
Kate: What do you mean, Stephanie?
Stephanie: It just didn’t feel real. It felt like someone made a mistake. It felt like an alternate spinoff reality. That’s how it felt for a good year and a half! And now, it just feels more normal.
In terms of Asian American representation, it’s really important to me. I think being an actor, having always wanted to be an actor, growing up, and not seeing yourself…
I don’t even think I was aware of the lack of representation until more recently, seeing more representation. Like, when Fresh Off The Boat came on the air, I was really excited.
I was like ‘Cool, it’s an Asian American sitcom. There hasn’t been one since All American Girl, and I sat down and I watched the pilot, and I just started sobbing. It was totally unexpected but I was sobbing because I realized that in the decades and decades I had been alive, I had never seen anything like my upbringing or my life anywhere represented.
I was never aware of the lack of that or even the pain of the lack of it because it’s just been like suppressed by ‘do that, move on, deal with it, fit in, accommodate.’ When I was a kid, I would ask my mom, ‘Am I Chinese or am I American?’ And she would say when you’re with Chinese people you’re Chinese and when you’re with American people, you’re American! And that’s how I behaved. And you become what you’re around and what you’re adapting, and you don’t realize the pain of not feeling included. And all of a sudden you see inclusion and it was like all that feeling coming out after decades and decades and decades, and it was overwhelming.
Now, I’m very happy that the Asian American community is more vocal, are more aware, or woke so to speak, and everyone else, and not just that community. Humanity and the population is more sensitive to all that. I do feel very grateful and I feel a lot of social responsibility.