A-Kon led us out of June and into July this past weekend at the Fair Park in Dallas, Texas. A-Kon is a social hub for all the cool kids, a.k.a. anime lovers, so obviously I was obligated to be in attendance. I had a grand time seeing creative cosplays and especially the dealer’s room—where they sell merch and art. A dangerous place… for my wallet.
However, the most fun I had was when I got to talk to Lisle Wilkerson. Wilkerson is an American-Japanese voice actress behind some of the gaming industry’s powerful female fighting characters. Lisle Wilkerson has voiced characters such as Sarah Bryant (Dead or Alive 5 and Virtua Fighter 5), Christie Monteiro (Tekkan 5, Dark Resurrection, Tekken 6, and Street Fighter X Tekken), Nina Williams (Tekken 4, Tekken 5 and Dark Resurrection), Zafina (Tekken 6 and Tekken Tag Tournament 2), Hong Xiuying and Joy (Shenmue II). She focuses her work in video games and hosting.
Lisle grew up in Tokyo, Japan. She does work in both English and Japanese. She has acted alongside Bill Murray in Lost in Translation and had a lead role in the award-winning indie film Kamataki. Now, she does interpreting work for various fields and is also a local media correspondent for different Japan networks. Wilkerson has covered distinguished shows like the Academy Awards, Golden Globe and the Emmys. She’s been in the industry for over 20 years.
I got to chat with Wilkerson, and I’m so glad I had to opportunity to do so. She is a lovely character that radiates warmth and love. Wilkerson shared with me some bits and pieces of her life. And let me tell you, she’s lived nothing short of an interesting life.
I know you first began your career in radio, how did your first opportunity for voice acting come about?
Yes, I started in radio at the age 19. I was a DJ in Shibuya and my first opportunity for voice acting was with Crazy Taxi, a huge game for Sega. I was actually casted by my first boss at the radio station.
How long did you work in Japan for?
For about 20 years, started at 19 and I left Japan at 39.
Were you born in Japan or you just grew up there?
I was actually born in West Virginia and moved to Japan at 5.
What’s are some of the most memorable moments from Japan?
Definitely Lost in Translation with Bill Murray and Scarlette Johansson and DJing in Shibuya. Did you know that the Spice Girls made their debut in Japan? So I got to see the beginning of their success, which was funny because when I was DJing at the station, I got to play their songs for the first time and I didn’t think they’d become this huge hit and then they became just that. Also, I met Shaggy…but it wasn’t him. Back then, he had come by the station one day when I was working and suddenly he started talking to me about the situations he was going through for like an hour.
So what you’re saying is, you were Shaggy’s therapist?
Basically yeah, I was his therapist.
That’s a cool thing to list on your resume. What’s the one role you didn’t get that you wanted, and one that you got without expecting?
To me, if I don’t get a role, I wasn’t meant for it. And for the role I got without expecting, or more like I forgot I auditioned for was Lost in Translation. I had two parts, the Jazz Singer and Sexy Business Woman. Most of the time, I forget that I even auditioned for something until I call the same company that I auditioned for, asking questions for a completely different role and they’ll be like “oh yeah, also congrats on getting that [whatever name] role!” and I’m just like “oh yes, thank you…”
And lastly, how did you get so awesome?
I’m still a working progress.
Lisle was like a breath of fresh and crisp air and I wish I could’ve talked to her longer, but even with the short interaction we had, I felt like we had become friends or something. Her amiable manner is infectious. She’s such a phenomenal lady who has done fantastic work and I’m grateful I got to speak to her.