Sandy Fox is a phenom who has been active as a voice actress, singer, and dancer for nearly 26 years. Some of her more notable roles include Kyoko (Akira), Chibiusa (Sailor Moon), and background characters on The Simpsons and Futurama. While at Anime Boston, I had the opportunity to sit down with Sandy and ask her about her career, the roles she’s noticed for women over the years, and about her foundation, Love Planet.
What has your experience been like as a woman in the voice acting industry?
It is a little bit different, especially since I first started out. There weren’t as many roles. As you can imagine in video games – there aren’t a lot of roles for women – and now that’s changing, which is wonderful. All of the diversity in the projects is changing as well. When I first started out there weren’t a lot of roles for women, especially women with my voice quality. But, I have found myself as characters such as Marona [Phantom Brave] and Flonne [Disgaea], so I do find my way into games where I can play these cute characters. My experience has been good, but there has been less work than there would be for men. But I think that’s changing and the women are changing it. There are so many incredible women directors now.
What inspired you to co-found Love Planet Foundation?
I’ve always been passionate about the planet and the environment. Even as a young girl, I raised money in my school – I was a girl scout and collected all the badges – but I raised money to plant the most trees in the Virginia Children’s forest. I actually got a written letter from Ronald Reagan thanking me. So, I’ve always been very passionate about the planet, nature, and education; I feel like education is the fastest way to create awareness and change. So, in 2001, my husband Lex Lang and myself started Love Planet Foundation, just as a non-profit under an umbrella of social awareness and environmental entrepreneurs in Los Angeles. We go into schools and talk about water, protecting our ground water, ways that we can protect the environment, and also ways that our energy has an effect on the world. Our thoughts, our word, our actions; just how important kindness is to each other.
What differences have you noticed between working in anime, such as Akira or Sailor Moon, and on western animation, such as The Simpsons?
So many differences! It all depends on the production quality, the team, and where the project is coming from. When I worked on the Simpsons it was in the early nineties, so Fox was just getting it. I think I worked on it during its first year, but it was amazing. We were the Walla group, so we did all the extra voices, all the kids voices. We consisted usually of three women and two men, or three men and two women. They still have these Walla groups today working on The Simpsons and different animated shows. We would watch the footage and go down the list, and the sound supervisor would say “okay, we need to cover this! We need to cover the school yard, or the Olympics, or the Swedish woman drowning. Sandy, can you do a Swedish woman drowning?” and I would have to in the moment. So, improv is really important as part of your background training. To be able to walk into the studio and create a character on the spot is important, as well as an acting foundation.
For anime, I’ve been so grateful to be one of the first actors in LA to be recording anime. Even when it was just coming out from being underground and fans were dubbing it, there were a few studios brining it over from Japan and producing it in real time. It was incredible. Studios where we did Akira, and Ghost in the Shell, along with my first studio where I really learned dubbing -Bang Zoom! Entertainment. It was kind of scary at first because beeps are going off and there’s numbers going across the screen. You’re trying to fit all of this acting into these flaps. For me, it was like jumping off of a cliff the first couple of times, and then I got the hang of it.
I’m just so grateful that these past twenty-five years I’ve been able to do the body of work, to become better at my craft, and to work with all of these amazing actors, directors, and producers. To be at a con like this is wonderful. We primarily work by ourselves in the booth, especially in anime. So, it’s really nice to come to a con and meet the fans, and to interact with them and watch screenings together. I’m very grateful.
Speaking of your craft, you have a wide range of talents when it comes to the arts. From singing to acting, where do you find you have the most fun?
All of it. It’s like trying to pick your favorite child. In junior high and high school I was very shy and I wanted to be a painter, so I would stay after school and paint huge canvases of animals. Then I was asked to audition for a musical called Godspell, and I was cast in that. From there, I was bitten by the theater bug, so I love all of it. I love being able to be fifty-five years old and walk into a studio and be a six-year-old. Or some creature. So, it’s all fun.
Since you’ve started acting, what changes have you noticed in the types of roles available for women?
It’s really exciting to watch the evolution of women’s roles in anime and animation, and also as I mentioned earlier – the directors. There are a lot more women directors – such as Mary Elizabeth McGlynn or Suzanne Goldish – so that’s exciting. The roles are also changing; we have more women being empowered. I think that’s what’s so wonderful about Sailor Moon. I kind of feel like Sailor Moon is the Star Wars of anime, because it has these core stories that affect everyone. So many people are touched by these stories, and it’s about a group of women who all have weakness and vulnerabilities, but together are so powerful and rise each other up. I think that’s a beautiful message for the world. They’re also accepting of everyone and everything. That’s what’s so great about this version of Sailor Moon; it’s keeping true to the original manga. So, Uranus and Neptune are not cousins anymore – they’re truly a couple. We get to tell the real story, and that’s just a reflection of society’s acceptance allowing us to tell the story of human experience.
Personal and amicable, Sandy provided me with a lot of information about her passion for education, the environment, and her love of performing. On behalf of everyone at Mithical Entertainment, I would like to thank Sandy Fox for her time and responses.