Interview with Caitlin Glass, Part 2: Faith and Voice Acting
From Ouran High School Host Club’s Haruhi to Fullmetal Alchemist’s Winry Rockbell, Caitlin Glass has voiced some of anime’s most beloved characters. She’s also funny, personable, and great to her fans. Back in August, Caitlin was kind enough to answer a few questions about voice acting. I was able to catch up with her at IKKiCON 2011 and finish our interview; this time, I asked her about her Christian faith.
TWWK: I found out about your faith through an interview you did on the Fans for Christ website. I admired how vocal you are. Could you quickly tell us your testimony and how you became a Christian?
Caitlin: Sure! I only vaguely remember it because I’m one of those that grew up going to church, so as far as I recall, it was just a situation of being in children’s church and at the end of every Sunday, they always ask if there’s anybody that wants to invite Jesus into their heart and one Sunday I said, “Yeah, I want to do that.” [laughs] And that was it. So, I don’t have some really immense rags-to-riches kind of testimony. I guess my testimony is just that I followed Christ my whole life and I fell that I am blessed and protected because of that.
TWWK: Have you ever taken a role in acting or voice acting that you’ve questioned because of your faith? Or have you ever turned down a role because of that?
Caitlin: Yes. Mainly, it’s more a whole show and less a particular character because to be honest, you can’t have the heroes without the villains and I can’t just say because I’m a Christian I’m only going to be playing the hero.
The villain, to be honest, as a Christian or as anybody, that’s who you should want to play because in truth, we can pretend all we like, but we’re just one step away from being that horrible awful person. What a greater testimony it is to those people, say, in the industry, who know I’m a Christian, for them to see me play someone who is obviously not and go, “Wow, she can do that.” In fact, there’s a show called Hell Girl and I play a character named Ayaka who is an aspiring actress; she does everything right. She’s this protégé of this acting teacher. But beneath it all, she is as dirty as dirty can be. She is foul-mouthed. She is just awful. She curses like a sailor and it was a challenge. It was also very cathartic [laughs].
And Justin Cook, the producer of Funimation, after he heard that episode came and found me and told me, “You’re a real actress.” I’m not boasting, I was like, “Uh, th-th-thank you?”
I’ll be honest, there’s a show I did recently and I cannot tell you the show or the character, but I wondered when I auditioned for it. Like, “What am I getting myself into? What kind of show is this?” It seemed, obviously, very gratuitious, fanservice-wise, and I thought, “I dunno if I should be doing this,” but there’s something about it that was really intriguing to me. And I just, on a whim, I said, “I’m gonna go ahead and audition.” And I don’t believe on entirely putting my casting into the LORD’s hands. I believe it is my responsibility to say I will audition or I won’t. Instead of going, “Well, I’m gonna audition and if God wants me to have it, then…I will!” Mmm…nuh uh. I think, as the Bible says, you have to grow up at some point. I have to make my own decisions. I decided I’m going to go ahead and do this. And in a way, it was a selfish decision. Everything turned out fine. I felt that there was something as an actress I needed to explore in playing that role. So I kind of told God, “LORD, I really don’t know if this is something I should be doing, but I feel that somehow I will grow as an actor, so I’m going to do it. And if that dishonors you, I apologize in advance. So, we’ll see what happens when it comes out, I guess. If people watch it and go, “Oh my gosh, I can’t believe she did that!” But there’s another actress, a Christian actress that I highly respect, that’s also in the show and that kind of put me at ease at little bit and I went, “If she’s doing it…”
TWWK: So I’m kind of thinking that, tell me if I’m wrong, sometimes if there’s a villainous role where even though you may be using foul language or something like that, that’s okay, because you’re…
Caitlin: …playing a part. I know that not everyone is going to understand that out in the world of Christianity, but I truly believe that it’s my job as an actor to tell a story. And the question I have to ask myself from the get go is, “Is this a story worth telling?” And if I think that it is, I’ll do it. And what is difficult is that in anime, we don’t always know the entire thing. We go in and we have a few paragraphs of a synopsis of the show, a few lines of a synopsis of a character, and then whatever the director tells us to go on to know. We’ll be told at the beginning if there’s nudity or if it’s TV-MA or it’s really violent or something like that.
But basically, another thing I feel (I learned this in church) – our pastor was saying that it’s our responsibility as Christians to share our faith. Period. But people think that means you have to go argue about it and fight and he says that’s not what you do at all. He’s like, “Christ has done something in your life and to testify, think about it in terms of a courtroom. If you’re a witness, you’re going to go witness to people. You get on the stand and you tell the truth. And I feel that that’s my job with my characters as well. I, as an actor, am the only representation of that character that my audience is going to get, besides the visual. So it’s my job to tell the truth.
TWWK: It sounds to me a lot like parables in the Bible, where you have a lot of unsavory characters – bad guys and so forth – but that’s part of the story sometimes, where you’re showing redemption or something else that might be good that comes out of it also.
Caitlin: Yeah, and I don’t know this at all, because I’m not a Bible scholar, but people just assume because of the way they read the Bible that well there isn’t foul language in it and, well that doesn’t mean we should just go ahead and curse in our daily lives, but they also don’t take into consideration that the Bible wasn’t written in English and that the languages that it was written in, each of those individual words means multiple things and carries a different kind of weight. So someone could read Greek or Hebrew or Aramaic and go “OH, that…” and we don’t see that in King James English [laughs].
TWWK: You kinda mentioned another Christian voice actor and I’ve noticed that there’s a budding community of anime voice actors that are Christian. Do you ever get a chance to talk with them about your faith?
Caitlin: Yeah, we do. It’s more like when you just get a chance to be friends, like when we’re not working, whether we’re at a convention or maybe we live in the same town. Like, Tia Ballard is my good friend. We talk about that stuff all the time. And some of us will get together at conventions and have church services at the con. I’ve done that before – Vic Mignogna and I do that as often as possible, with or without each other. Tia’s jumped in on that a couple of times now. So yeah, it’s nice to be able to grab a person, especially someone who I feel is more mature in the LORD, who’s also in the entertainment industry, and be able to kind of be able to spill my guts for a minute and maybe get some advice or get some sympathy and go, “[sigh] Okay, you understand me.”
TWWK: I was surprised to find that there’s a group of Christians in an entertainment field. I think there’s this point of view – maybe it’s a conservative Christian point of view – that those in the entertainment industry are generally not Christian. So that’s just why I was surprised to find that there are a number of Christian voice actors.
Caitlin: And regular actors, too. You know, it’s so funny that that is such a conservative Christian viewpoint when we forget that the very first thing that God ever was was a creator. And so, it is innate in us to create also and people find different ways to do that and acting in an outlet of creativity.
TWWK: Finally, last question. Do you have any words of advice you can offer specifically to Christians who are thinking of entering voice acting?
Caitlin: I’d say, if you’re going to profess your faith, as you should, in the entertainment industry, without a lack of professionalism, people will not listen to what you have to say. That isn’t an absolute, but I’ve found that. If they can respect your work, your work ethic, your talent, and just get to know you as a person, then listening to your story and discovering your faith will be listened to with more open ears, I think. And they’ll respect your faith more because they’ll already respect you as an actor. So, I’d say that.
The Bible tells us to be excellent at what is good and it also says that every gift is from above, so if you have a gift of acting, and that’s a good thing, then become excellent at it and there is no shame in pursuing that at all. Stanislovysky, one of the great acting teachers, says that “Acting is the noble profession.” So don’t let anyone tell you that because you’re Christian you shouldn’t be an actor – it’s not something you should be doing. That’s really silly. But for voice acting, the main thing is it’s about being an actor. Get the acting skills that you need. Go on youtube and look at any of the panels of voice actors and they’ll say, “So first, follow all those things we tell people to do on how to be a voice actor.”
It’s a really small community of voice actors, but I learned from the get go that they’re very family oriented and as soon as people around Funimation knew that Caitlin is Christian and this is what she believes, they would look out for me and say, “Uh, you don’t need to audition for this show.” They wouldn’t hold it against me or baby me or anything. They’d just say, “I don’t think it’s something that she should be a part of.” So people are going to be more supportive than you think once you get in there. It’s the people not in the industry who are not supportive.
TWWK: Well, thank you so much! I’m glad we finally got to do this.
Glass: You’re welcome!