Lisa Ortiz spoke to The Natural Aristocrat at Anime NYC 2019 about voicing Amy Rose, Sonic X, her first ever audition, and the art of voice acting.
Lisa Ortiz told The Natural Aristocrat about not wanting to take any breaks when she got her first voice acting role, the excitement consuming her. The voice of Amy Rose commented on if the Cupid love-struck hedgehog will ever get Sonic to date her, being in the studio for Sonic X vs the video games, protecting your voice, and teaching the craft at NYU.
Watch the full interview above or read the transcript below:
The Natural Aristocrat [Nir Regev]: Do you hope as the voice of Amy Rose that eventually she’ll finally convince Sonic to date her? You think it’ll ever happen?
Lisa Ortiz: Listen! (smiles) Well now that he looks like himself again, yes! (laughs)
Before she would have been busy?
Yeah, I would have been like, you know… That’s alright. (Switches to Amy Rose voice) “Sure, sure I’ll take a look at him now! We’ll see.” But yeah, that would always be fun. I mean they’ve got a lot to learn. They had growing pains, like every relationship does.
When it comes to voicing Amy Rose, how different is it to record for the video game lineup of titles as opposed to Sonic X?
When we had done the animation at the time, you had the director and the engineer in your room. And when we had recorded the video games, there were often times a lot of producers in the room. At one point the most amount of people we had in there was about six I think. Six or seven people, so that’s a little bit different. Also the stuff that we had done for the show was all ADR. Much of the videogame stuff is different sometimes, you’re doing it Prelay, so you’re not seeing the picture. Sometimes you have some animation but they don’t necessarily have the mouths done yet.
The main thing was that there were other people in the room, and you’re doing the lines as opposed to doing them visually to the whole story. You’re usually doing the banks for games. It’s like any other game, they’ll do the banks for the game, and you’ll do that. That was the difference though, that there was a lot more people in the room.
I’ve read that you got your start in the industry originally because your brother stole your car! Which is one of the most amazing voice actor stories I’ve heard. How did that play out?
Yes, my brother stole my car. I was in school and I had to take a semester off because I got mono, very badly. My car also got mono and it wouldn’t start. So we used to hang the keys on the hook over by this thing. My brother came one day, he took the keys, took my car, dropped it off somewhere. I wake up, my car is gone! I get a phone call and it’s my brother, I’m like, “Hey, where’s my car?!” and he says, “It’s at George’s house.” And I’m like, “Who’s George?!” and then he hangs up.
I wound up chasing after this trying to figure it out. Listen, my other brother became a cop so it all balances out man! Another friend Rob called up, he came to pick me up and I’m like, “Do you know who George is?” and he says, “Yeah, sure no problem I’ll take you to George’s house!” So I get in the car with him and he turned out to be interning at a company that was called Central Park Media. We started talking as we’re going through, and I was studying theater at the time. He says, “Listen, they asked me to bring in someone in. Do you know anybody who might want to do some voices for Anime?” And I’m like, “How about me?” (laughs)
So we did do that, I did get my car back and get a car battery, all that. I went into an audition for a show called Record of Lodoss War. I wound up actually booking the role of Deedlit. That was my first audition and my first gig. So yes, my brother stole my car. I don’t recommend it for everyone! And most siblings would not approve of that. But like I said My other brother became a cop and the world got balanced.
Were you nervous at all going in?
You know, I didn’t know what to expect. I was nervous. It was really weird. I was nervous during my first sessions too. Going in, I had watched anime and cartoons growing up… And I sort of went in and did my best Disney voice! That was my thing because I used to practice that in the car. That’s what wound up happening. But during our first sessions, I was so nervous I wouldn’t take a lunch break.
When we had long days, I was afraid to go to the bathroom. I didn’t do anything. I was so excited to just have the job. People would say, “Hey, do you wanna take a break?” and now I realize that everybody, if they’re like “Take a break!” they want to take a break. They want to have a sandwich or something. I was like, “Oh no, that’s okay! I can keep working! I can keep going through! It’s really fine!”
Mike told me, “It’s so funny seeing you now, when you started you were so shy. And so like just nervous and scared and now you’ve blossomed.” But yeah, I was super nervous. Not when I was doing it because I was having too much fun! But being in the room and having all those people there… That was my first paid job as an actor! The first words that I ever said were, “Eww, it’s moldy in here!” and thus launched my career!
Do you have any rituals to kind of reach an equilibrium before you go into a recording session? Something you do every morning, every day?
It depends on the voice. I do also teach voice over as well. Normally, I’ll do vocal warm ups. I do stretch out my body. Sometimes you’ll just go in and you’re sort of ready but I’m a singer also. So I’ll sing, I’ll do my “Brrrrrr” kind of thing. I sing a lot. I’ll sing a lot beforehand, right before I go in. I’ll warmup my voice. Some people bring in apples, apple cider vinegar, I have Slippery Elm Tea and there’s a whole litany of things that I’ll do. I try to get as much sleep as I possibly can. That’s the one thing you can always do. Also, I like sleeping… It’s fun. (smiles)
You mentioned you teach voice acting, is that surreal for you?
Well not anymore because since I’ve been directing so long and doing this, it was stepping into it. If I look back and think about it, like the ‘me who was’ over there looking back… Then I would probably be like that’s insane. It’s trippy. I started teaching a couple of years ago, I actually also teach a Master Class. I’m a guest artist at NYU so I teach there as well, I teach dubbing in Stonestreet Studios.
I do a workshop with a fellow voice actor and voice coach Erica Schroeder who has played a whole bunch of things she was the Luffy to my Chopper (One Piece series). And she’s also Blaze the Cat (Sonic series). She and I teach with another woman in Jennifer Sukup who is the casting director on the most recent Transformers (Cyberverse) out in New York. We workshop on that, we teach character creation, using your voices, and I do a dubbing segment at the end. I also taught in Korea.
I also do a class that is about a vocal preservation. Making your voices and your sounds because there’s a lot of screaming that we do. It’s about finding the places in your palette and things that make sound that you don’t realize. And also how to support and use your voice in a way that you’re not going to damage it. I use that in the booth a lot because we’ll have matches (in Pokemon), we’re doing The League.
The Alola League just started airing the weekend before last, they did 151. This week they have their first rounds. People are screaming in there for hours, like I do not go easy on these people. I will tell you! They’ll do something, I’m like, “No, no no no no… You’re way more excited than that! You’re about to win this game! Go for it!”
So they give it all out! You’re doing your thing, you’re doing your performance. But people are screaming, so we want to make sure that you can support the voice. That’s part of the craft. I work with a lot of people who are on Broadway, who are who have done stuff before. Eddy Lee who plays Gladion. He just went on Hamilton recently, one of our other guys, Professor Kukui (Abe Goldfarb) is in Beetlejuice.
These guys are performing all the time, so they have hours and hours and hours of stuff outside of the booth, so they get vocal fatigue. That’s one of the things that’s important. I teach people not just the character creation on that but also how to support their instrument, and do it in a way where they’re able to perform it well. And also still do all the other work that we have to do as actors.
I went to NYU!
You went to NYU? Awesome! Cheer, cheers! (smiles)
How do you protect your voice generally? You mentioned the screams before.
I make sure I warm up beforehand, when I do that. I still work with a voice coach myself. I have my mentor, who’s a woman named Diane Tauser, who works with me. I still practice, I still do that, I still work out my body. I drink a lot of water, I always sleep with a humidifier especially in New York we get a lot of dry heat.
It gets real dry especially with the steam heat. But I’ll try to get rest whenever I do things in the booth. Throat Coat. Lemon and honey tea. Try not to have any aspirin. Have apples. Just try and take as good care of your voice as you can. But if I have rougher days I definitely make sure that I warm up, do the Throat Coat, and warm up the body as well.
Check out The Natural Aristocrat’s Anime NYC 2019 interview with Ray Chase, voice of lead Noctis Lucis Caelum.