|Monica Rial, a successful stage actor, veteran voice actor, and now an ADR Script Writer, answered some questions from us about herself and her role as Momoko in ADV Films' Ghost Stories.|
ACTIVE ANIME: Hello Monica, and thanks for giving as the opportunity to ask you some questions. First question, how much do you harass Chris Patton and why do you do it?
MONICA RIAL: I harass Patton A LOT but I only do it because I love him. He is a good friend of mine and has been for a long time. He's an amazing actor and a great friend.
ACTIVE ANIME: Are you still active with stage acting and how long have you been acting?
MONICA RIAL: Unfortunately I'm not as active in the theatre community as I used to be. It simply takes up too much time with rehearsals and everything. The last show I did was Rocky Horror and that was over a year ago so I'm dying to get back onstage. I've been acting since I was twelve. I was a dancer first and then kinda morphed into an actor.
ACTIVE ANIME: What made you jump to voice acting?
MONICA RIAL: I really didn't mean to. I never even considered voice acting. It wasn't until several friends of mine started working at ADV that I even became interested. My friend Jason Douglas was the one who really pushed me. I'm glad he did. I can't imagine life without voice acting now.
ACTIVE ANIME: Your voice-acting resume is pretty extensive! Do you have any favorite roles or shows that you especially liked working on?
MONICA RIAL: Oh wow. I always say that's the most difficult question to be asked. It's kinda like picking your favorite child, you know? I definitely have to say Izumi Himuro from Princess Nine. What an amazing character! I had a blast with Hyatt in Excel Saga. I loved being the bad girl Lyra/Dante in Full Metal Alchemist. I'm stoked to be playing Misa Hayase in Macross. I adore Mira in Godannar. There's just too many to pick one.
ACTIVE ANIME: What role or roles were the most difficult for you to learn or perform?
MONICA RIAL: Kirika in Noir was by far my most difficult role to date. She was SO quiet and I had to convey SO many emotions with nothing but "Huh?" It was very hard but also very rewarding in the end. Yoriko from Aquarian Age was pretty tough too around the end of the series. I don't wanna spoil anything though.
ACTIVE ANIME: Viewers have heard a bit about Ghost Stories' innovative dubbing process, which made use of rewrites and improvisational techniques. What was the dubbing process like for you personally in your role as Momoko? How much was left up to you?
MONICA RIAL: Wow. We have so much fun working on Ghost Stories. It really is a community effort between the actors, Steven Foster (our director), and Adam Jones (our engineer). I don't think I've ever spent so much time talking about Jesus or quoting the Bible. What's truly awesome is how it all comes together in the end.
ACTIVE ANIME: How did you first react when you learned about the process of Ghost Stories?
MONICA RIAL: I was super excited. It's unlike anything I've ever done before. I'm so used to going in and reading from the script but when you're writing the script as you go along;it's a totally different experience. Everyone in the cast has been working in anime voice over for a while now and it's refreshing when something new and challenging comes along.
ACTIVE ANIME: How much of the original script were you familiar with before recording the Ghost Stories scenes?
MONICA RIAL: Absolutely none of it. I had no idea what it was about other than kids and ghosts. I'm glad that I didn't though because I think it would have changed my performance. Sometimes it's good to go in blind.
ACTIVE ANIME: How did the Ghost Stories dubbing process differ from the Super Milk Show dubbing process, where you voiced Tetsuko?
MONICA RIAL: Well, since I was in the "direct translation" dub of Milkchan it was very by-the-book. We basically read the direct translation adding or taking out words for length. I'm still shocked that Cartoon Network chose to air that version. I think the other one is much funnier.
ACTIVE ANIME: What do you think of working with Director Steven Foster?
MONICA RIAL: I love working with Steven. He's an amazing man. He's an incredibly talented writer and director. I've worked with him for a while now and he's always a blast. I have to say that we're really lucky at ADV because all of our directors are such cool peeps.
ACTIVE ANIME: Did you have prior experience doing improv acting or similar tasks before taking on the improv voice acting role?
MONICA RIAL: I was in an improve troupe for several years. I worked with Allison Keith-Shipp and Chris Ayres and many talented actors. I love improve and I'd love to get to do more of it. I don't enjoy it as much at conventions. There's something about getting in front of a bunch of liquored up patrons and acting a fool that makes it more fun.
ACTIVE ANIME: You did ADR scripts for series like D.N. Angel, Gatchaman, and Madlax. Could you explain what the ADR Script position is? How do you feel about the work compared to voice acting?
MONICA RIAL: Basically, my job as an ADR script writer is to take the direct translation and write it into a coherent scene that matches the lip flaps. It sounds easy but it really isn't. I enjoy writing but voice acting will always be my passion.
ACTIVE ANIME: Monica, this has been a standard question in our interviews, but do you have any embarrassing moments during recording?
MONICA RIAL: MANY. Let's see. I've knocked over a microphone, I've had to do Saizo noises in front of Japanese visitors, I've been recorded while blowing my nose when I have a cold; there's so many! I'm not easily embarrassed though.
ACTIVE ANIME: You've made it to several conventions over the years. What do you enjoy about appearing at cons and fan events?
MONICA RIAL: I love meeting the fans. I never knew that anime had such a huge underground culture. My brother Miguel was into it but we never knew about cons and stuff. I enjoy the cons but I'm having to cut back this year. People don't realize how much time they can take up. I used to have all the time in the world but now I'm a busy girl. I really hold my voice acting work as priority #1. So if it's a choice between the two then I have to cut back. I've still got a few scheduled though.
ACTIVE ANIME: So you voice Hello Kitty, which I hear is one of ADV's top sellers. Do you change any aspect of your acting technique or approach in that show to fit the younger viewing audience?
MONICA RIAL: No, I don't really approach it any differently. I see Hello Kitty as a character like any other. I mean, just because it's a children's show doesn't mean I want to dumb it down, you know? I think kids are a lot smarter than they get credit for. I think if I had gone in and recorded it as a kiddy show that they would've caught on and then not liked it. Patton and I still like to creep people out by saying foul things in the Kitty and Dear Daniel voices.
ACTIVE ANIME: Final thoughts, is there anything you want to say to the fans out there?
MONICA RIAL: Thanks for everything you guys! You don't know how much I appreciate all the love and support. Keep an eye out cause you never know where I'm gonna pop up! Much love to all of you!
ACTIVE ANIME: Monica, once again thank you for taking the time to answer some questions from us. Active Anime loves you Monica!
Photo Courtesy of Ms. Monica Rial