Myriam Sirois

Myriam Sirois describes her start in voice-acting as "Voice-acting kind of came out of the blue... I got my start in theater, and I did about five years of theater before I even started auditioning for film and TV." Her acting career was already well underway at that point - she'd even gone to Hollywood in her youth with every actor's starry-eyed dreams.

"My father had taken me down when I was thirteen and we went there blindly, not knowing anything about anything," she says. "And you know, [we] realized that there were a lot of shady characters and a lot of people who were just going to take you for your money and had no interest in helping you. So we kind of learned the hard way. You have to learn it." But she counts herself as lucky to have had so much support in those early years. "I was fortunate because I had parents who supported me and helped me, and I was never alone."

Now, about eight years after her first voice-acting job, she's well known among anime fans as the anime-in-English voice of Ranma 1/2's Akane Tendo. "Being on Ranma's been an amazing experience 'cause it's been the same people for years, and it's become a really good time, and no pressure," Sirois says. "In live-action you're on one thing, and you go on another thing, and then another thing, and you never really hook up with other people. On this show it's been really cool, and I think it's been a little bit like the experience of working on a television series, and it's something I'd really like to do more of."

Although she still continues to work in live-action - most recently in TV's Night Man and in upcoming independent film - she thinks of both sides of her acting career as something she'd like to continue for a long time.

"I think in many ways [live-action] really doesn't compare to voice, because voice is a different medium," Sirois says. "You can really be free and loose and not worry so much about looks, and hair, and makeup, and this and that, and you physicality - you're very much dependent on your voice and how animated you are. I mean, I'm the type of person who'd like to do both - forever really."

You've been involved in theater for quite awhile. Were you into theater in school as well?

Actually, it was more actually like extracurricular. In school, I concentrated on my academics, and then outside of school, I had a private drama teacher who taught me one-on-one. I entered the Festive of the Arts in Canada, and won my provincials - it was basically a competition where you would do prose and monologue and that sort of thing. I'd do lots of different plays - of course, Cinderella - and that's basically what I did. So for a long time it was just theater, and I loved it. I'd love to go back to it.

How do you handle the translation from Japanese on a character such as Akane? Do you listen to the Japanese version, or do you make it up on your own?

Well, I think that when we started doing Ranma, I was very much dependent on the director, and I would constantly watch for what he would say. If he said he didn't like it, I'd do it again, or whatever - so by the first few episodes I had sort of done my thing and they said "we'll go with what you're doing." It was very much like we wanted to stay true to it, so sometimes yes, we definitely do [listen to the Japanese]. Also, I have to say that the translation that's done on Ranma is extraordinary - we barely ever have any problems, like getting sentences or words or ideas or emotion because [Ranma translator and scriptwriter Trish Ledoux] writes it so beautifully that it's easy for us. In a lot of ADR work, you'll get the script and it doesn't match up, and then it becomes more of a problem. At those times, you really have to listen to the Japanese, but since she's listened to [Ranma], and she knows exactly the essence of the characters, and it comes out in what she writes in English, and then we just go with that. It makes such a big difference. I've done other projects where you just want to rip your hair out because nothing's fitting and you're not really getting the essence of what it was in the other language, where it be Japanese, or Cantonese, or Italian, or whatever.

On Ranma, after doing it for so many seasons, we've basically gelled, all of us together, and we sort of know what our characters are like. We've developed our own little quirks and personalities and we go with that. I think [the English Ranma series] has its own flavor - I think it sometimes comes out a little different [than the Japanese], but it's so enjoyable I think people have accepted it.

Have you ever played another character like Akane before either in animation or live-action?

Not really, actually. She's a tough cookie, you know? She's a tough gal and she stands on her own two feet. As far as playing a character like that, even in live-action, I really can't say that I have. I've played a lot of softer characters, always the "good girl" kind of thing, and never somebody who's maybe a little bit more edgy. I've always been more the good sister, or the good daughter, or the one that is always the good person.

Actually, it's been really fun in animation because I've had more opportunities not to get pigeonholed into playing a certain type, because looks don't play a part. In animation, it's very much your voice and the character, and it's kinda cool because what you look like, whether you're blond of you're tall - it doesn't matter, you know? And you can just imagine and create fantasy, where oftentimes, in live-action, you get stereo-typed because of the way you look.

What was your impression of Akane's character when you started? Do you think that's changed at all?

I think it's changed a little bit from my audition to when I got started, because in the bare audition you know only the very, very, very bare basics. In the audition I didn't see the edge she had until later episodes, when I started going, "Oh, wow, she's pretty edgy; she's feisty," and that kind of thing. I didn't get that from the beginning, when I first auditioned, but yeah, that's probably the biggest way she's different from how I first pictured her. You see the cute little cartoon, you see the picture, and then the edginess that comes out of her is kinda different than I had first imagined or perceived. I'd thought we were gonna make probably her more cutesy - ha, ha, ha, that kind of thing - and we just made her very edgy and standing on her own and not worrying about defending herself, that's for sure. Assertive, and all those really positive qualities. In a good way - I mean, that's the thing, you don't wanna say she's assertive and edgy, blah, blah, blah, in a negative way. It's all very positive.

What do you enjoy the most, doing Ranma?

I think I enjoy it the most when Akane and Ranma do that little flirting business, and you think they're gonna hook up, and then all of a sudden, they kind of... well, I think that's always fun to do. That's the time I giggle the most. You finally see her soft, sensitive side all of a sudden, and then 360° again.

Do you watch the animation you're in?

Oh yeah, [Viz Video producer] Toshi's very kind and he sends me all the tapes, so I have my own little private library at home. My cousins love to watch them, too - they always get a kick out of that. I mean, I haven't seen everything that I've done, but I do probably watch at least most of the episodes that I get. Which is good, because it allows you [to think about] what you could do differently and how well it's gelling.

In ADR, one person goes in and tapes their voice, and another person goes in at a different time, so you're never together and you're never really hearing what the other person's doing or responding to what you're saying. So it's kind of fun to see it all put together. It's just like doing a film - you see the back and the front and the middle, and then you see it pulled together. And it's always really interesting to see the end effect of what you've been doing.

You've said that you tend to play a lot of good girl characters. Is there any particular archetype that you haven't played yet but you'd like to try?

I've always been a very dramatic actress, like somebody who does a lot of drama. I get cast in a lot of things where I'm a victim, you know? [LAUGHS] Getting abused in some way, form, or fashion. But probably any actor's dream is to get a character that has many, many sides, and I'd like to do somebody that is going through turmoil - physical abuse, mental abuse, or whatever - but she finds resilience in herself, and that she has the strength, and she does overcome it, and just being able to see the transition. Sometimes parts are so one-sided, and I think the ones that intrigue me the most are where you really feel at the end of the film that you know the person. I think that's what I'd like to do. To take a character from the beginning and see her transformation. I think that would be the most fulfilling experience for me as an actor, where you're really taking it from the very beginning, and you're really bringing it to the end and making [the audience] feel like they can relate to this person, and feel for this person, and maybe even know this person.

When you prepare for a role, do you do any special research?

Oh yeah, definitely. If it requires it - I mean, I've never done anything "based on a true story," or anything like that, where in order to get the essence of the person you're portraying, you obviously would want to talk to them. Like for the roles that I've done, mostly they've been very close to something I can relate to. I'm not a method actor in the sense that if emotion is required - like crying or whatever it might be - I don't need to listen to sad music or stay in character all day, or look at sad pictures, or put myself back in a time and place where I was personally upset. I think I've very much the type where if the character requires me to cry, I feel like that there's got to be a reason, and I very much concentrate on that, and concentrate on how I would feel. It just comes down to having a really good imagination, and being able to just transport yourself so that you leave everything else behind and just think what it would feel like. And being able to be open-minded and just relate - although I've played a sexually abused child, and I've never been abused a day in my life, so it’s hard to say that I can relate to that - but as an emotion first. Obviously you have to be emotional if you're going to be an actor. I can sort of just put myself there and just feel that pain and go with that.

Send Fan Mail to:
Myriam Sirois
c/o Viz Video
P.O. Box 77010
San Francisco, CA 94107

Originally Published in:
Animerica Vol 7. No. 3

Credits include:
Akane Tendo
Ranma ½,

Sakura Kokoushou/Shushuran
Please Save My Earth

Sulia Gaudemus
Fatal Fury: The Motion Picture.