In this episode I talk with Sarah Wiedenheft, who is known for voicing Tohru in Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid, Grand Zeno in Dragon Ball Super, Suika in Dr Stone and many other voices throughout the years.
We talked about how she got her start in voice acting, what it’s like playing the strongest being in the Dragon Ball universe and whether the process is different when voicing a lead character compared to a side character.
Check out the video and audio versions of the interview below.
Joel: So a question you probably get quite a lot when doing these interviews. Could you give us a brief introduction to how you started becoming a voice actor?
Sarah: Yeah, so ever since I was little I was very into, like, the entertainment world in general. I jumped into doing ballet, jazz, tap dancing. Then I progressed into doing theater and choir and musicals. You name it, I was very into just being on stage somewhere. My dad was in the Air Force so I moved around a lot and I ended up in Texas in the Dallas Fortworth area where Funimation resides.
I’ve always been interested in voice acting, because it was like another, you know, form of acting. So I’m like, “maybe it’s fun”, you know, worst case scenario is they say no, and it’s not for me, or maybe just I hate it or something. But I signed up for the open auditions and eight months later, I get called in to do an audition, and they just kept me.
Joel:So when people mentioned anime, one of the most iconic series that comes to mind is Dragon Ball Z. What was it like being able to be involved in that series, and not only just involved but playing the most powerful character in the whole universe of all of the Dragon Ball series Grand Zeno?
Sarah: Yeah, he’s pretty OP. It was, it’s still kind of mind blowing. Like, I never imagined that I would ever be able to be in that because I remember as a kid watching Dragon Ball, which was my favourite season of all the Dragon Balls.
I was like, “Oh, that’s so cool”. because I thought that they weren’t going to continue with it. Because, you know, before Super started coming out, they were just like, “no, we’re done”. But then they came out with Super, I’m like, “Oh, OK, so maybe there’s a chance I might snaggle in there”. But then I remember getting the auditions for this, for Zeno and I’m like, “what a weird candy baby, let me try something”. And at first I thought I’d do something like, you know, just like typical, just a little kid cutesy thing but he looks so weird. I wanted to do something a little bit more sinister. And somehow, they ended up being like, “yeah, that’s what we wanted”. They wanted that weird, creepiness, like, he might murder you, but also very into playing.
Joel: Yeah he can annihilate your whole universe in a second if you say the wrong thing so everyone kind of walks on eggshells around him and it’s a pretty cool character.
Joel: I was going to ask if that was a voice you came up with or if that was a collaboration between you and the director but you kind of answered that.
Sarah: Yeah, no, it’s it’s something I kind of just, somehow got out of me. Yes, it’s so fun. He is such a weird character. But he’s so cute at the same time. It’s so strange. Every single time I’ve gone into there to do a session with him. I always laugh after every single take I do.
Joel: He looks like a very fun character to play.
Sarah: Yeah and it’s like the weird thing going back and forth between the future and past Zeno. There’s a lot of times if it wasn’t a very long scene, and it was just between those two, I would just record back and forth with myself without having to go back and go in for the next Zeno, I’d just talk back and forth and it was the funniest thing. I probably looked like an insane person.
Joel: So over the years, you’ve had the chance to voice the lead character in a number of series and you’re currently playing one of the core cast as Suika in Dr Stone. You’re Yuno in Yu-No, when getting the character that’s the lead, do you have to approach that a little bit differently to say voicing a side character? Is there more effort involved? More preparation?
Sarah: It depends from person to person. I typically like to just jump in and just learn about the character with a director and have them tell me everything that I need to know about it and then organically go with each step with them. And the thing is, we usually don’t know that we have something until we go in for it. So like, I got called in like, “Hey, can you come in for Anthony (Bowling) for Yu-No, for this long?” I was like “Yeah, sure”. And then he tells me, oh,
you’re Yuno, I’m like, “Oh, okay, Oh, goodness. Okay”. So it’s kind of just random, and you just kind of jump right into it.
Joel: So I don’t want to get too dark, but you also voiced Tohru in Dragon Maid as well. After the recent tragedy that happened to Kyoto Animation, has that character become a little bit more special or meant something a little bit more to you since that event?
Sarah: Um, she’s always been like, deep within my heart. I mean, I can’t say that it’s that much different, you know, because of the incident, it kind of seems a little bit strange to love them more than you already have.
Joel: Do you appreciate what you did more, not knowing what’s next for the series as it’s a bit up in the air?
Sarah: Yeah. I don’t know what’s gonna happen, but I did definitely feel very sad for that. That was absolutely terrible. But uh, yeah, I think about that. I’m like, gosh, I hope they’re okay.
Joel: Thanks for joining me for this quick interview. Before we head off, where can fans follow you online and follow your work? And what can they be excited for that you’re in at the moment?
And so currently, I’m in Dr. Stone as Suika and Yuno in A Girl Who Chants Love at the Bound of this World but currently there is one called Plunderer that’s supposed to be coming out in Fall. And I don’t remember her name. I think it’s like Maya or something like that. But she’s the Blue Haired Girl, the main girl in Plunderer and I’m really excited for that show. Because looks so cool. The Plot’s amazing.
Joel: Awesome! Thank you so much for your time today.
Sarah: Thank you.
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