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Tara Platt is a voice over artist, actress and producer proving voices for dozens of English-language versions of Japanese anime films, television series, and video games including Temari in Naruto, Reina in Rave Master, Noir in Tales of the Abyss, Mitsuru Kirijo in Persona 3, as well as characters in Marvel vs Capcom 3, Saints Row: The Third, Soulcalibur IV, and League of Legends. She and her husband Yuri Lowenthal created Monkey Kingdom Productions, an independent film production company that has produced two features, Tumbling After and Con Artists, as well the web series Shelf Life. (Definitely check this out out, guys!) Check out our interview with Tara where she tells us the differences between voice over work for Japanese and American projects, getting started in the business and what goodies she has coming up for us!

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Legion of Leia: You’ve voiced so many characters, but particularly for transports from Japan to America. What sense do you get about the differences between female characters in anime and Western animation? Have you had to change anything in shows for the American audience?

Tara Platt: There is definitely a chasm between the cultures: this sort of fascination on both sides with the other, which leads to this obsession and attempt to adopt the other, which makes for really interesting storytelling. Each filters their storytelling through their cultural screens. That said, I feel that in a wide-sweeping generalization, many of my experiences with Western animation there seems to be a tendency to have stronger female characters who are self-motivated risk-takers, while often Japanese anime has an abundance of busom-y giggly school-girls (even if they are risk-takers, is it masked beneath their appearance, and overtly feminine behavior — look at the old series Sailor Moon or straight-up soaps like Marmalade Boy). Of course for every show I have worked on there are many examples of the opposite, and I am at a disadvantage since I often play strong female warriors so I tend to see the projects that have those characters more in focus. But in terms of many of the shows brought in there seem to be an abundance of school-soaps in anime, while US-born animations have tried to build individualized female characters who though female, may be sexy, and have a more Western empowered femininity: look to Kim Possible, the Powerpuff Girls or even classics like She-Ra. Clearly, an anime series like Naruto is packed with female warriors who are extremely unique. I am just excited to see more and more ladies rocking empowered characters, who have a mind and aren’t afraid to speak it, regardless if the topic is boys/hair/world-domination/growing-up/or just being unique and living life with all its obstacles! And I do love that in many Japanese anime and features they have had a love for female leads, just look to Studio Ghibli (My Neighbor Totoro, Spirited Away…), where as in many of the US  animated films I watched as a kid I was tracking with a male protagonist (An American Tale — even if he is a mouse, The Land Before Time — a dino) or a princess (Disney). As for changes, there are things that need to be adjusted for regionalisms but usually we try to honor the original script unless it is illegal (underage drinking/etc.) or really doesn’t translate (humor/jokes/things that don’t make sense).

Legion of Leia: What does it mean to be a part of the amazing group of women working in sci-fi?

Tara Platt: Well, I like to look at is as a community of passion. There have been so many steps throughout history for various groups to empower themselves and take the necessary actions to increase their power, that it becomes exciting to feel like I might be a small part of that. One of the things I love so much about sci-fi is that it really doubles as a platform to take risks, caged in the safety of “fiction.” Look at political/moral/ethical things that have been encountered and fleshed out on shows/films like Star Wars, Star Trek or Battlestar Galactica. By doing so, it makes the collective conscious that much more familiar with the concepts, and simply through familiarity leads to a possible acceptance (studies show that people need to come into contact with new ideas and brands at least 7 times before they start to become safe) and those previously taboo ideas are closer to being able to be discussed in actual terms. So for that alone it is exciting to be part of a platform of change. To add to that, so many of the ladies I know are extremely creative, fascinating, supportive, out of the box, clever, hard-working and truly inspirational, it is an honor.

Legion of Leia: I know you’ve done live-action films, stage work and web series, as well as voice overs for video games. How did you get started in the business? Is there an aspect you prefer?

Tara Platt: I started acting when I was a kid. I thought I wanted to be a neurosurgeon when I was little, and had always loved science (physics still is the poetry of life to me) but I saw a musical (Annie Get Your Gun) with my mom when I was only 8, and I just had this moment of realization. This epiphany: that fun, that playfulness, that taking the audience on an adventure, that level of excellence… that was what I needed and wanted to do with my life. I quickly started auditioning and getting into plays (my first show was when I was 9) and went on to get my Equity card as a teen doing musical theatre and eventually get a BFA in Theatre Arts from Rutgers Mason Gross School of the Arts and the London Academy of Theatre. I moved to NYC and worked on off-Broadway shows before trekking to LA and getting into film and television, and ultimately voice-over for animation and VG. Through all of that my love of the highly visual, vividly aesthetic storytelling is my passion, so my first love is being on-camera with all the props, sets, other actors and being able to create a visual adventure to take the viewer on… and of course within that, I gravitate to those amazing adventures that directors like Tarsem, Gilliam, Fuller and Jeunet create — which often are fantasy or science fiction! Second to that, the electricity you get from being on stage with a live audience, still with costumes/props/other actors, is a true blessing. I also love getting to play characters that I would never be able to play and that is where voice-over comes in. If you can create a voice and sustain it for a character, then you can play it; it removes barriers and even gender/race limitations. I have played male, other races, and even non-living entities. Honestly, I am so filled with gratitude that I can make this magical world of dress-up and story-telling my playground, so everyday that I have the chance to show up and play is a good one!

Legion of Leia: Who was the first sci-fi or fantasy character you connected with as a kid?

Tara Platt: I was an avid reader, and I think that so many of the books I was reading (I grew up without a television, and though we went to the movies once-a-week, I was a book-worm by nature) colored that path for me. Sci-fi/fantasy/adventure writers like Writers like Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide…, Charles Dodgson/aka Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, J.R.R. Tolkein’s LOTR series, Piers Anthony, Neil Gaiman, L. Frank Baum… they all built this amazing playground for me to play in in my mind. I wanted to be Alice. I wanted to be Bilbo, I wanted to be Dorothy, I even wanted to be Marvin the Paranoid Android — or at least friends with him. There seemed to be a welcoming into the worlds by the authors and their characters that made it a wonderful adventure for any eager mind up for the imaginative ride.

Legion of Leia: What projects do you have coming up? Where can we find your work?

Tara Platt: I am working on several VO projects that I have to keep hush-hush for now, but I am really excited that our short steam-punk silent film Topsy McGee vs. The Sky Pirates is currently in post, and I am over-the-moon about it. It is a silent film, that we are working to make feel like a film from that time period, we even built models of the dirigibles for the air sequences. Topsy, is played by me, and she is a woman in this man-dominated alt-Vic world, but isn’t willing to let that keep her down. Her husband gets captured by the sky pirates and she goes after them to rescue him! It is a really fun adventure, with amazing visual effects. We are also working on the accompanying graphic novel for another Topsy adventure. We are also currently working on a distribution deal on our second feature film docu-comedy Con Artists, about being voice-actors at conventions. I should have more info soon about where folks can see it, in the mean time you can check out the trailer onConArtistsMovie.com

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The Movie

Documentary filmmaker Boris Kievsky accompanies his two ‘famous’ voice actor friends, Yuri Lowenthal and Tara Platt, through a year of attending the weird a…
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And lastly, I have been working on a personal passion project called The #365Project. I started it on Valentine’s day and am doing it for a year. I am working to explore and examine how we treat ourselves, and self-love. I have been documenting my process and do weekly posts on my YT channel. I am floored by the number of folks who are also doing their own projects and are sending me notes about their processes as well. It is truly humbling. Youtube.com/TheTaraPlatt 

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365 Project – YouTube

This is a pet project that I am working on based on an idea I had recently… I realized just how hard our bodies work each and every day with little thought…
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Of course I am quite easy to find online… my website is TaraPlatt.com

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TaraPlatt.com – Tara Platt

Check out http://TARAPLATT.COM! The official site of Tara Platt: TV, Film, Theatre actress, Voice Over Talent.
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On twitter I’m @taraplatt, FB I’m Facebook.com/TaraPlattfans 🙂

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Tara Platt

…putting on costumes or disguises and venturing into alternate realities (sometimes to…
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Oh and our production website is MonkeyKingdomProductions.com
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Monkey Kingdom Productions – C’mon monkey, let’s make …

Check out http://MONKEYKINGDOMPRODUCTIONS.COM! Monkey Kingdom Productions is an independent film production com…
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Jenna Busch

Jenna Busch is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Legion of Leia and has hosted and written for sites like Nerdist, ComingSoon.net, Metro, Birth. Movies. Death., IGN, AOL, Huffington Post and more. She co-hosted Cocktails With Stan with the legendary Stan Lee and has appeared on Attack of the Show, Fresh Ink, Tabletop with Wil Wheaton, in the documentary She Makes Comics, on NPR and Al Jazeera America, and has covered film/TV/gaming/comics for years. She's currently a co-host on Most Craved. She's been published in the comics anthology Womanthology, is a chapter author for Star Wars Psychology: Dark Side of the Mind, Game of Thrones Psychology and Star Trek Psychology and more, and owns a terrifying amount of swords and 20-sided dice. There are also those My Little Pony trailer voice overs that give one nightmares.

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