Are you a mom interested in working in the anime dub industry? We sat down with accomplished voice actress Brina Palencia about her own personal experience of dubbing while on the rewarding journey of motherhood.
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT (NIR REGEV): Do you feel the anime dubbing industry is less accessible once becoming a mom (or even while being pregnant)?
BRINA PALENCIA: I think the entire world is less accessible when you become a mother! However, voice over, even dubbing, is the MOST accessible form of acting job while pregnant and being a mom.
I recorded until I was over 8 months pregnant. Then they arranged for someone to voice match me on SimulDub episodes for the first 2 months after my son was born.
Once I was ready, I re-recorded the episodes I missed for the DVD release of those shows and then continued where they left off. Everyone was very accommodating.
I used to do on-camera work pretty regularly, but that would be impossible for me at this point. You can be on set for 12-18 hour days, and you have no idea when you’ll be wrapped, and you only get your call sheet (the thing that tells you when and where to show up) the day before.
I’d have to have a live-in nanny to make that happen. With voice over you know exactly when you start and exactly when you’ll finish, usually days or even weeks ahead of time. You have a little bit of control over when those times are as well.
If a studio asks me to come in one day to record voice over, but I have to take my son to the doctor, I can say no and get no push back. They’ll just offer me another time.
If that was on-camera, they would re-cast me without a moment’s hesitation.
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: What’s it like to juggle parental duties at home and recording audio auditions for prospective clients?
BRINA PALENCIA: The auditions are the hardest in my opinion. I have yet to be able to handle it. Auditions can sometimes take up to a few hours a day, and it’s not something I can do with my kid around since audio needs to be perfect.
I’d have to record them when he’s at pre-school or sleeping or get a babysitter. You have no control over when you get auditions and the time they’re due either.
You can get auditions with just an hour turnaround sometimes, and I don’t have that kind of flexibility. I barely get my day to day stuff done in the time he’s at school. It has proven difficult to add auditions on top of that, and then I have to think about what I’ll do if I book it.
I am incredibly grateful for the work I have, but managing schedules is already pretty complicated. I am also not the breadwinner in our family, so not every actor would have the same experience or same feelings about it.
When you’re counting on acting work to make ends meet, you will find a way to get those auditions recorded and sent. Many parents I know will often forgo sleep to get it done.
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: Are official accommodations available to bring children to the recording studio or must talent afford their own third parties (babysitting, daycare etc)?
BRINA PALENCIA: That is always something we have to work out on our own. I don’t know of any studio that has ever provided that for a voice actor.
I want to also add, bear in mind my answers are that of a mother with a 4 year old with special needs. My experience is very different from someone with a neurotypical kid, especially one who is older.
I’ve seen parents bring their kids to sessions, and they just sit quietly and wait until their parent is done. That always blows my mind. When my son was a baby I brought him in a couple times when I had to come in for last minute pick-ups and couldn’t get a sitter.
He actually did okay sometimes, but one of the sessions he screamed bloody murder. One of my friends just happened to be working that day and she was kind enough to carry him out of the studio and try her best to soothe him for a few minutes so we could get a clean take.
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: Do mothers in the dubbing industry (who don’t live close to the Flower Mound, Texas or Los Angeles areas) have their work opportunities effectively halved? * Due to not being able to consistently travel for non-major roles.
BRINA PALENCIA: Some dubbing studios don’t allow for remote recording anymore, so if you don’t live by those studios you are definitely screwed.
Since most things are SimulDub these days you’d have to be able to travel every week. Child or not, it’s not tenable. The pay is not high enough to cover that kind of travel.
Thankfully some studios, especially in LA, actually do offer a remote option, but there just aren’t nearly as many jobs coming from those studios.
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: Is it difficult as a mother to maintain an active presence at anime conventions outside your home state?
BRINA PALENCIA: It depends what kind of partnership/help you have. My husband works crazy hours, so we always need to find someone who can help on the weekends I’m gone, which can be challenging since we don’t have a full time nanny or anything.
I know some people are able to spend all week with their kids and then their partner takes over on the weekends while they go to a convention.
There are also some parents in the industry who rarely get to see their kids because the only way they can make ends meet is by going to conventions every weekend.
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: In your opinion, is public social media like Instagram used unofficially by prospective employers as a mini-LinkedIn gateway to the individual’s time available to work?
In a sense, could the visual of a parent (and the responsibilities/’obligations’ that come with it) be used to discriminate from the dub talent pool/labor force?
BRINA PALENCIA: I have never gotten that sense from any voice over studio at all. People in the film industry (on camera, not voice over) can be weird about it in regards to your “image.”
Like if your Instagram is just you momming, they might decide you aren’t fit to play a vixen role because of it, but I don’t know if that’s still the norm.
In general though, it seems the only thing producers care about with your social media is how many followers you have and that they can trust you not to leak project info.
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: Might a ‘single’ individual be chosen over a parent due to the perception of a more open, flexible schedule and potentially less salary demands? Hence, ‘subconscious’ discrimination.
BRINA PALENCIA: Well, first let me say that voice actors don’t get a salary. We’re all paid hourly.
That being said, parents in the dubbing world don’t really ask for pay increases anymore than childfree folks from what I’ve seen, so higher pay demands has never been an issue from my experience.
Second, the only times I’ve witnessed people not get cast due to schedule was not because they had a kid.
It was usually because they had a day job and could only work at night or they were only willing to work 5 hours a week for a lead role that would need more like 10-20 hours a week.
I don’t audition for things often because I know I’m not willing to give up time with my son or give up the little free time I have unless the project deeply interests me. But I am extremely lucky and privileged to be able to do that. It also depends on your personality and what makes you feel fulfilled.
Some people really want to be working full time in a career they love for their mental health, and I think it’s important to honor that, too.
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: Thank you so much for all your insight Brina!
BRINA PALENCIA: Thank you!
– Are you a Mom Who Dubs or Dad Who Dubs? Contact [email protected] to share your own experience as a parent in a future feature!
– Be sure to check out Brina Palencia’s new podcast “But I’m Spiritual” (now in its second episode).
Brina discusses her spiritual upbringing and humorously speaks about her mother wanting to drop off Brina and her siblings at Church so she could run errands!
Also tune in to Brina’s ongoing podcast “Should They Watch It?”
with voice actress Kara Edwards (Videl in Dragon Ball Super)!
About “Should They Watch It?” Podcast
“A show where Brina and fellow voice actor Kara Edwards review kid shows for parents.
Is it worth your kid watching? Is it educational or fluff? What age should be watching?
They cover it all!”
About Brina Palencia
Background: Brina Palencia is an 11 time BTVA (Behind the Voice Actors Awards) nominee. Including a 2017 nomination for Voice Actress of the Year.
Palencia is the fiery whirlwind behind The Future Diary’s Yuno Gasai, Snow White with the Red Hair’s Shirayuki, and One Piece’s Tony Tony Chopper to name a few.
– Speaking of which… Be sure to read our exclusive interview with Brina Palencia on voicing Yuno Gasai on The Future Diary!
Brina is also a fantastic singer in addition to her on-screen acting and voice acting work.
Connect with Brina Palencia on Social Media:
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