Interview: Indiana Comic Con and Linda Ballantyne

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I recently attended the fourth annual Indiana Comic Con held over Easter weekend in Indianapolis. Their first year drew about 20,000 people, and since then it has more than doubled in size, with each year setting a new record for attendees. This year featured celebrity guests like Val Kilmer, Millie Bobby Brown, Austin St. John, Nichelle Nichols and Linda Ballantyne. The first interview I want to tell you about is the time I spent with Linda Ballantyne.

I just have to start by saying that Ms. Ballantyne is fantastic and everyone should go and meet her when she is visiting a con near you. You can follow her on Twitter at @LABallantyne. She lost more than half of her scheduled lunchtime because she wanted to get through the line of people waiting for autographs. Then, she was still willing to stop and talk to me. She probably would have spent even more time with me, but a member of the Con’s PR team had us on a timer, which was fair. Linda is from Toronto, Canada, which probably explains how nice she is.

She was the voice of The Wasp in Avengers: United They Stand, Champ Bear of the Care Bears and you know her best as the voice of Sailor Moon in the original English dub. We discussed her time working on Sailor Moon and other aspects of her career.

James: You are most famous for doing the voice of Sailor Moon, but is there a character that you actually enjoyed performing more?

Linda Ballantyne (LB): I loved being Wicked in Cyberchase. She is this crazy insane witch and is one of the show’s villains. She loves herself so much, it is ridiculous. Villains never win, but they are great because they always think they will win, which makes it fun. She had a love interest named Hacker, who was voiced by Christopher Lloyd. We never got to work in the recording booth together, but I did get to say Christopher and I were flirting with each other.

James: Assuming you created that character from scratch, can you compare it to taking over Sailor Moon? Was one easier than the other?

LB: Oh, yeah. There was a big difference just because Cyberchase was an original animation, so we would do the voices and then they would do the drawing. Sailor Moon was already done in another language, so you would have to try and make your words match the flaps, and the character is already developed to a certain degree.

James: Did you try to do the same things that the previous actors had done?

LB: Yes, in a way, but my voice is not like theirs. Terri [Hawkes,] her voice is a little more naturally in her nose, so I had to figure out how to get that sound and when I auditioned. I had a cold, so I sounded identical to her, like identical, but when it came time to record I wasn’t sick anymore so I was thinking, what am I going to do? I need to sound more nasal. I even considering packing Kleenex up my nose, then I came to my senses and said, I can’t do how many episodes with Kleenex up my nose; I would have ended up looking like a boxer. Eventually I just said I have to make this my own. This is going to be my character now.

James: You always wanted to be an actor but in an older interview, you said that you thought being a woman would be something that holds you back. Do you think things have changed and improved for you or the young girls here today that dream of an acting career?

LB: I think it has, perhaps a little. I’ll tell you, every time I go in for the audition they will have the sides, which are the little scripts you read at an audition, and out of 20, maybe two or three of the characters will be for a woman, one of which is actually a boy. It can be very frustrating. Another thing that is frustrating about it all is that I think I have heard there are four times as many parts for men compared to women, but that twice as many women are acting. We really have it out for us!

Women who have chosen, or are thinking of choosing acting as their profession, may have the starving artist’s corner nailed down. A successful career will take a lot of perseverance, talent and a good amount of luck.

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Despite facing those odds, you can currently find Linda working on Top Wing, Little People, Zhu Zhu Pets, and you’ve probably seen or heard her in a number of commercials. She was a blast to meet and was the absolute highlight of my time at the convention.