Fighting evil by moonlight. Winning love by daylight… She is the one named Sailor Moon!
That’s right, Sailor soldiers! We’re launching the first of our Nerd Royalty series with an exclusive interview with voice actress Linda Ballantyne, and as a “Moonie” myself, I’m thrilled to be sharing this with you. Sailor Moon made up a huge chunk of my childhood and while I grew up with it, it grew up with me as well. The cast went through numerous changes just as any growing, successful show does. Eventually, our beloved Serena found a new voice in Linda Ballantyne but what is most inspiring is the road traveled for Linda to find her own voice.
“From a very young age I knew I wanted to be an actor. I was always trying to be the center of attention whether I was meaning to do it or not. I was an extremely out-going kid. And I loved being on stage,” Linda shared, continuing on to insecurities from her childhood. “But I had two huge obstacles that were in my way. One: I wasn’t a boy. Two: I hated reading out loud.”
Linda explained that while it might sound crazy for seeing not being a boy as an obstacle, it was a challenge faced often back in the ‘60s and ‘70s.
“I remember in kindergarten our class was putting on the Christmas play Frosty the Snowman. I would have given anything to be Frosty but of course it went to a boy. And in our class production the only speaking parts they wrote were all male (which only boys played). And then there was the chorus…which were all the town rooftops. So I ended up being a green rooftop (I insisted mine be green so it was different from the other black and brown roof tops). I remember at that concert watching the other classes perform their shows and realizing (at the age of 5) that all the “stars” were boys. It made me so angry.”
Despite the discouraging Christmas show, Linda’s desire to perform remained constant if not grew stronger. Years passed and she happily enrolled at Ryerson University for theatre. We can thank their program for Linda realizing her calling as a voice actor because while stage and film were the desired suits of acting, Theatre School introduced her to numerous disciplines of theatre.
“In second year we were given a class in microphone technique. As soon as I put the headphones on and stepped in front of the microphone I knew this was something I loved. I loved how I could lose myself in my own head. I loved that I didn’t need to worry about how big or small my facial and body expressions were because it was all about how I sounded, not how I looked. It was magical.”
You might be thinking to yourself, “But, Linda… We thought you hated reading out loud?” I guess you could say she had her own version of Luna in the form of a teacher during her second year at Theatre School.
Her teacher mentioned that cold reads of monologues were planned for class, leading to Linda’s concern and pleading against it. At that moment, her teacher dished up a harsh truth: “You have to learn to read out loud. You have to teach yourself. And you have to have this skill in order to be an actor.”
“I did what he told me. And it was awful,” Linda recalled. “I stumbled my way through every written word I saw. I hated the sound of my own voice. I taught myself to slow down and listen to what I was saying. I taught myself not to panic as soon as the prospect of reading out loud came up. And slowly I improved. To this day I still don’t love doing cold reads but I can survive doing them.
“But I have also discovered that I am not alone. There are so many people like me who hate reading out loud. I try to read out to as many people as possible to tell them my story. I read out loud for a living. What a crazy world we live in.”
That’s only one of the many things Linda gained from attending Theatre School. You won’t believe what’s coming next. In the same microphone technique course offered at her school, a guest voice actor joined in one day to discuss the business of voice acting. As someone who was heavily influenced by Harvey Korman (The Great Gazoo) and Mel Blanc (Looney Tunes), the awareness of male voice actors was greater than that of female voice actors in her life. It wasn’t until a guest female voice actor spoke to her microphone technique class that Linda made a pivotal realization that ultimately would lead to a long-term friendship!
“I have never been so tuned in to anyone speaking in my life. She talked about the difference between playing a little boy and playing a little girl. She told us how you had to act with your whole body and not just your voice. She had so many nuggets of gold and I ingested every word. That actress was Susan Roman… Sailor Jupiter! I have had the privilege of working with Susan for a very long time. She lives right around the corner form me in Toronto and she is a very good friend. We’ve often laughed about that class where she divulged all her secrets. She definitely inspired me. Thank you Susan!”
We thank you too, Susan! Now that we’re on that subject, Espionage Cosmetics met Linda and Susan at Emerald City Comicon 2016 while on the show floor. We checked in with Linda to hear about their time in Seattle:
“Highlights from ECC? Meeting the ‘Weasley Twins.’ I’m a Harry Potter geek. Eating Seafood with Susan Roman in a fantastic restaurant in the port. Hanging out with some of the staff of ECC one night (way too much fun!). Getting amazing nail art from Espionage Cosmetics. I know you are thinking that I said this to give Espionage a plug but I tell you I was a Goddess when I arrived home with amazing nails and some for my 3 daughters… A GODDESS I TELL YOU!!!!”
Comic conventions were not always a part of Linda’s life. In fact, if it were not for social media, she would not be at conventions or know that the fan base was so strong or that people cared about her role as Sailor Moon. Her involvement in the series influenced so many people on a level unfathomable to Linda. While not all memorable experiences come wrapped with smiles and laughter, there are those that leave such an impression on our hearts through mutual gratitude.
“I had a woman come and tell me how if it weren’t for Sailor Moon she wouldn’t be alive today,” Linda said, noting that this is something she hears surprisingly often. “She told me about how awful her life had been growing up and that she had come to a point where she felt she couldn’t go on. She said watching Sailor Moon had made her realize the strength she had within herself and that the show had actually saved her life. She then turned and said, “I’d like you to meet my daughter.” Her daughter stood behind her proudly beaming, dressed as Sailor Jupiter. We both hugged and started to cry.
“If I hear of a Sailor Moon event through social media that is in a city I will be in I try to make a surprise appearance. But more than anything, I just want to be there for people who need me [TWEET THIS]. It can be difficult at times. Hearing some of the tragic stories is really tough. But sometimes people just need to tell their story to the right person and that helps. I don’t want to turn away from anyone who needs my help. Social media makes me accessible and I love that.”
This is the power of fandom. This is the power of community. This is the power of Sailor Moon, and lucky are we that Linda is the embodiment of Sailor Moon when it comes to life, love, and friendship. A huge shout out to Linda for dawning the Sailor Scout tiara!