Fans of the Rooster Teeth series RWBY, indeed, with the company in general, are no doubt familiar with our guest today: Barbara Dunkelman. Following the success of the Internet Box podcast, Barbara joined the Rooster Teeth family in 2012 as their very first Community Manager. Since then, her role has grown to include Program Director for RTX, as well as a sweet little side gig known as “Voice Acting”. She’s helped to bring the fiery character of Yang Xiao Long to life since 2013, and in light of Volume 4’s recent release, agreed to answer a few questions for us!
With RWBY now entering its 5th Volume, what would you say is the most exciting or interesting thing you’ve been able to do specifically because of RWBY as opposed to your other work at Rooster Teeth?
The most exciting thing is getting to travel to so many conventions for my work in RWBY, and getting to travel with my fellow cast members of the show. It’s crazy to see how big RWBY has become all over the world, and having fans want to meet us solely for our work in RWBY. Getting to go to these events and be in the presence of other famous voice actors and actors is very surreal, and it’s unbelievable that we’re held in a similar regard.
What aspect, if any, of Yang, do you find yourself most drawn to or relating most strongly to?
The thing I relate most strongly to with Yang is her care for those she loves. I’ve always cared strongly and passionately for people in my life, and would do anything for them, just like Yang. I also feed off the energy of those around me, and admire the outgoing, charismatic personality that Yang has, and try to emulate that in my every day life.
In the previous volume, Yang suffered one of the first lasting injuries that a main character has taken in RWBY. What were your thoughts when you found out Yang was going to lose her arm?
It’s going to sound weird, but I was actually very excited when I heard Yang was going to lose an arm. I knew it would shake the audience and be a huge moment in the show, but I was excited for the changes it would cause in Yang and getting to experience the character in a completely different way. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and I look forward to see how she’ll get stronger.
On a related note, as of Volume 4, Yang is dealing with her teammates running off to the four corners of Remnant as well as PTSD. Has this change affected your process for voice acting?
It has definitely affected my process in voice acting. I’m so used to voicing Yang in a manner where she is happy, surrounded by her friends and team mates. To be able to place myself in that mind set was always easier. However, now, I have to try to get myself to a place where I feel alone, scared, shaken, and defeated – luckily, not a feeling I’m used to. It’s changed a lot about how I think of the character, and has made me respect her more.
Finally, what’s your favorite Yang-related pun you’ve made or heard?
I’ve heard so many… it’s hard to pick just one. I’ve heard plenty about her arm; being disarmed, armed and dangerous, giving someone a hand, etc. It cuts so deep!
Many thanks to Barbara for taking time out of her very busy schedule to chat with us! Keep an eye out for my review of RWBY Volume 4, coming in the next week!