Both an actress and director, Lisa Ortiz is an unstoppable Hollywood force. Some of her notable acting roles include Oshawatt (Pokemon), Amy Rose (Sonic), and Lina Inverse (Slayers), among others. While at Anime Boston, I had the wonderful opportunity to sit down with Lisa to discuss her talents, her career, and her experience as a woman in the entertainment industry.
What has your experience been like as a woman in the videogame and anime industry?
You know, it’s funny. I’ve been doing this for a long time, and when I started there weren’t that many female directors, so I worked with guys more than anything else. You definitely notice it now, there’s a lot more people who are into it. I work on the direction side of the studio, so I have my people that I’ve known for a long time. There were less females, there are more now. I know that a lot of the women I’ve worked with on the gaming side get a little more to contend with. But I haven’t found such a hard time. I definitely think a lot of us who have been there for a long time have banded together. You get a different perspective. There are some people who really like working with you, and it was definitely sort of a guy’s game in the beginning. It’s changed a lot over the years since I’ve started. There’s a lot more women, I see a lot more female directors. I was cognizant when I came in that I was one of the few. It’s a little bit more of a different dynamic, where some people might wonder if you’re actually serious about it. I see the dynamic changing; there’s a lot more women now, and I am happy about that.
I know you had done some work on Pokemon. How do you manage to bring life to the characters using only one word?
So, here’s the funny thing about that. I am also the director on Sun and Moon, and was the director on Black and White. When I first was cast as Oshawatt, I was like “What the heck am I gonna do? All he does is say his name! How am I gonna do this?”, and I fell in love with that dude. It’s actually really freeing once you figure out the personality because Pokemon are somewhere in between a creature and a person. Once you have that personality and babble figured out, it’s really freeing and a lot of fun. I will say that I have inner monologues for them. There’s a lot you can do with it, and it’s some of the most fun you can do. I love putting people in the booth to have them figure out their personalities. I’ve just started work on Litten and I’m trying to figure out how to get it’s personality across and to keep him catty. I started off thinking “Oh, I just have to say my name” to “Wow! I don’t even have to speak English anymore!”. With Pokemon and games, there are a lot of people who are really good at doing creatures. It’s really cool.
There’s been a lack of strong female characters in anime. Do you feel any of the characters you’ve portrayed are strong female leads?
Oh yeah. I do think Lina was because she’s very forceful about what she wants and she directs the story to where she wants to go. She can be goofy and crazy, but she can also be serious and get down to business. She’s the driving intellect of the story in way because she’s guiding the choices. That I think is a really important thing. There’s a lot of characters who are strong in what they deal with and where they go. Lina is one of the out-of-the box strongest. I try to keep all my characters strong though.
When you talk about strong characters, I look at how complex they are. There’s a character I played in His and Her Circumstances that is dealing with her parent’s divorce, and it shows her going through it and how she interacts with people and deals with it. I consider that a strength because you have the outward robust strength and the inner resolve. I think they are there and exist, but a lot of times they’re ancillary to other main characters.
Reflective and honest, Lisa provided a real look both into herself and her talents, as well as what the industry is like to work in and its evolution. On behalf of everyone at Mithical Entertainment, I would like to thank Lisa Ortiz for her time and responses.