Brina Palencia is a Renaissance woman of the entertainment industry. Boasting over 156 acting gigs, Brina is also a talented director, both of music and people. Some of her more noteworthy roles include Ciel Phantomhive (Black Butler), Tony Chopper (One Piece), and Holo (Spice and Wolf). While at Anime Boston, I was fortunate enough to ask Brina a few questions about her experiences being a woman in the entertainment industry, and about her range of roles in the industry.
Question: What has your experience been like as a woman in the entertainment industry?
Answer: The cool thing about being a woman in the voice acting industry is that there is a lot less barriers to cross. On camera work kinda sucks as a woman. There’s a lot more importance put on appearance when it comes to roles, so even though you may be able to wrap your mind around a certain role, if you aren’t “hot enough”, you won’t get it. I would say in that regard, being a woman in the voice acting role is a definite plus. You also have the ability to play male roles. I will say what’s interesting is getting to see a huge contract between playing male and female roles. I know when I play my male character Ciel Phantomhive [Black Butler], he is super layered and has so much depth, and is so fascinating. When I play female roles and there’s not really any that compare to the thought put into their male counterparts. I have gotten to play some cool female roles, but it’s rare that they’ll go as far as they do with a male character.
Question: At one point, you were a director. What made you decide to go back into acting?
Answer: Well, I only directed full time for a couple of years and it was probably one of the greatest things I could have done as an actor. Just to see the other side, it felt like I was in an acting masterclass because I got to direct so many amazing actors. It provided me some insight into some of the amazing skills of those actors and allowed me to see why they are cast so often. It was really helpful, but took a lot of time away from acting, so it led me to want to try acting full time, which I prefer. When I go back to directing, it’s usually just as a music director. I’ll sometimes help out as an assistant director if the studio needs someone to fill in. I love music directing though, and I might venture to say I like it more than acting in anime. I think it’s so fun getting to adapt the lyrics. It’s like a puzzle to get the translation to work, while honoring the intent of the original message, but then also trying to get it to sound poetic and match rhythmically, and make sense. I also get to work with people who have a wide musical background, from singers, people who may not have a musical background, and to people who may have multiple degrees in music. I just like it a lot, it’s awesome. I just finished working on a show that had an intense turnaround time, and it just solidified how much I loved it.
Question: Have you noticed any drastic differences between working in the anime versus the videogame industry?
Answer: Yeah, definitely! In the videogame world, they’re doing a really good job fleshing out all characters; it’s so cinematic. Due to the characters I’ve been able to read for, I’ve gotten more excited about the video game roles than the ones I’ve read for in TV. From a writing perspective, I feel that the videogame industry in general is kinda kicking everyone else’s asses in terms of well-rounded and deep characters.
Question: Are you noticing more progressive roles for women in either the videogame or anime industry?
Answer: Yes and no. It seems like a few years go you had a lot of in-between roles. I feel like right now it’s all jiggly titties, or someone as awesome as Shirayuki is in Snow White with the Red Hair. It’s bizarre and I don’t know why the roles are so contradicting and why there’s so little in the middle.
Witty and frank, Brina provided a lot of information and what it’s like to be a woman in the entertainment industry, and what her favorite parts of it are. On behalf of everyone at Mithical Entertainment, I would like to thank Brina Palencia for her time and responses.