In Recess February 2022

People Will Know What I'm Working on When They Read the Credits

Dallas-based criminal defense attorney Krystal LaPorte gives voice to her clients by day and anime characters by night



Interview by Eric Quitugua


When Krystal LaPorte isn’t in court or her office, she is in her home studio for auditions and remote voice recording sessions. Photos courtesy of Krystal LaPorte.

Having your name in the credits of popular anime series and video games won’t necessarily make you famous and that’s just fine for voice actor and criminal defense attorney Krystal LaPorte. The recognition is minimal, allowing her to flit between court and her home recording studio and not wind up in the gossip rags. LaPorte, who pleads the Fifth on talking about potential new roles, partly out of respect for NDAs and avoiding “actor puffery,” opened up to the Texas Bar Journal about some of her past credits, her late partner and fellow voice actor, and her approaches to portraying anime characters.

GROWING UP, WERE YOU ONE OF THOSE KIDS DOING IMPRESSIONS OF ALL YOUR FAVORITE CHARACTERS ON TV?
Oh no, can I plead the Fifth on that? I definitely did my fair share of impersonating television characters, but more often (and more annoyingly) I impersonated the people around me. I always found it fascinating how people could sound so radically different. Our dialect can be affected by so many environmental and physical factors, and I delighted in seeing how much you can learn about someone from the sound of their voice.

DO YOU EVER HAVE ANY CLIENTS OR CO-WORKERS RECOGNIZE YOUR WORK IN ANIME?
It has happened a handful of times, maybe two or three. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I absolutely love the freedom to compartmentalize my life so I can do my legal work more efficiently, and I get the privilege of doing what I love without being famous. One of the things that irks me the most in the voiceover industry is when people assume that becoming a voice actor will make them “famous.” I don’t think that’s accurate or deserved because it could not be further from the truth; voice actors often do not have to carry the burden of being famous. When you are a voice actor, you may be recognizable online, by some fans, or at niche events like conventions, but you also have the freedom and privacy to walk to Panera in a messy bun and yoga pants without ending up in a tabloid.

HOW DO YOU BALANCE VOICE ACTING WITH YOUR LAW PRACTICE?
I wish I could say I do it with a full eight hours of sleep every night, but that would be a lie. I have a home studio set up where I can record auditions and have remote recording sessions during the pandemic. Often if I am in court or the office during the day, I will be recording and editing late into the night. Additionally, when I record with foreign or L.A.-based clients, I can schedule a session for as soon as I get home from the office, because it is a few hours earlier in their time. I am incredibly lucky because the talent coordinators are often willing to work with me to schedule a time that I can be home to record.

HOW DO YOU KNOW WHAT VOICE TO GIVE TO A CHARACTER?
The first thing I do is ask the director or (if I am lucky enough to work with them) the creator. As an actor, I am simply one of the tools they employ to bring their vision to life. If the director wants me to just play with it and use my instincts, I try to take the character’s physicality, age, and backstory into account to come up with the most natural voice and reads for that character’s circumstances.

IS THERE A ROLE YOU IDENTIFY THE MOST WITH?
Whatever role I’m currently working on. I try to always find the part of a character that I can identify with, and if there isn’t one, I will make one up and treat it like a “secret” only that character knows. No matter what series, film, or game I am working on, it is somebody’s favorite. No matter who I play, they will be someone’s favorite character. I try to keep that in mind as I work and treat my character like they hang the moon and stars to respect the fans, both current and future, of the series.

FOR THOSE WHO AREN’T SUPER KNOWLEDGEABLE ABOUT ANIME, WHAT’S THE CRUX OF “SUB VS. DUB”?
“Sub vs. Dub” is an often-argued conflict between anime fans. Proponents of “subs” believe that anime should be watched subtitled, using the original Japanese audio. Fans of “dubs” prefer to watch them re-dubbed in English using voice actors like me. To be honest, if I said I fully understood it, I would be lying. Ever since the advent of the DVD, any anime often comes with both languages as an option, so nobody actually has to choose one or the other when they purchase a show. I think it’s just human nature to want to ascribe and root for a team. It’s a common argument in the anime fan community, but I find it no more contentious or offensive than iPhone vs. Android, Cubs vs. Sox, or Coke vs. Pepsi. No matter what hobby or interest we have, we tend to find ourselves loyal to a specific way of enjoying it. Personally, I don’t care how a fan watches their anime, I’m just happy they found something to fill their day with a little joy and entertainment. All that matters to me is they support the official releases so the hard-working staff, animators, and crew can keep making more shows.

IS THERE PUSHBACK ON THE IDEA OF NON-JAPANESE ACTORS BEING CAST INTO ROLES OF JAPANESE CHARACTERS?
Very rarely, and usually in circumstances where the character’s race or culture is explicitly stated or intrinsic to the plot or design. Anime usually involves such fantastical worlds and settings that the race of characters is ambiguous. The most important thing is that the actor is respectful of the source material.

WAS VOICE ACTING THE THING THAT BROUGHT YOU [AND LATE PARTNER CHRIS AYRES] TOGETHER?
I had always said that my entire life up until the day I met Chris was preparing me for him. While we had initially met through anime, we realized we were basically twins that same day over lunch at Max & Erma’s in Columbus, Ohio. First it was through our love of the play Cyrano De Bergerac, and we were both diehard fans of Phantom of the Paradise, an excellent rock opera film made in Dallas. As we spoke more, we realized we had the same eclectic taste in horror movies, a love of fight choreography, and a very similar work ethic and moral code. We both loved working in anime, but it didn’t come up in conversation nearly as much as you’d expect. Even after nine years, we were still constantly finding ourselves pleasantly surprised at yet another thing we had in common.

HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO HONOR HIS MEMORY?
Chris signed every letter, email, and message he sent with “Love and Laughter always” because he thought those were the two kindest things you could wish for another person. He left enormous shoes to fill, but we’re the same shoe size anyway so I’m going to do my best to continue the tradition of kindness and compassion that he championed, in court, in the booth, and in life. “Love and Laughter always” wasn’t just a signature or lip service to him. He always did everything in his power to make people feel loved, and he didn’t consider a conversation over until he could make someone laugh. He usually accomplished that.

DO YOU HAVE ANY MORE SHOWS YOU’RE WORKING ON?
I cannot confirm or deny that. Respecting NDAs is so important as a voiceover actor, and I have seen way too many actors jeopardize their careers by being sloppy, so I tend to not talk about work unless I’m explicitly told to. To try and strike a balance is exceptionally hard, because we are often instilled with the mindset that we are only working if we talk about working, and only worth something when we are working. Besides, how many times can I say I have “something in the pipelines #hustle” before someone knows I’m just engaging in actor puffery? People will know what I’m working on when they read the credits, and I’m happy as can be with that. TBJ

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