Lani Minella is an extraordinary voice over actress. She is best known for being the voice of Nancy Drew and for her role as Ivy Valentine in Soulcalibur. Actually, you can listen to her amazing voice in over 500 titles among videogames, TV and anime series. According to her IMDb biography, “she continues to do over 365 voices in a 3 1/2 octave range”. If you’re not into these numbers, let us translate them to you: this is simply stunning.
But Lani is not just one of the most talented and experienced professionals in the videogame industry. She is also a kind and pleasant lady who is always a pleasure to talk with.
In this interview, Lani talks about her role as Gloria in “Remothered: Tormented Fathers”, the art of voice acting and the state of the videogame industry.
What were your first thoughts about Remothered when you first got in touch with the game?
I was thrilled and excited to work on it! Definitely piqued my interest.
As your last name suggests, you’re half Italian. How do you feel working for an Italian project? Have you noticed any Italian influence in the game?
Very very proud of my Italian heritage. I can say you also put forth a lot of care and attention to detail. Creativity is alive and continues throughout your game. And we all know good art comes from Italy too. Along with many other things like music, inventions and I could go on and on.
Gloria may seem like a quiet and shy lady, but appearances can be deceiving. As a voice over actress, which kind of process did you go through to reflect this complexity?
I could relate to her personally, as I am also shy but have to act very outgoing most of the time when “on stage” performing for most games.
One of our fans recently told that he would talk to Gloria because she is voiced by you. This is a great compliment for you, that’s for sure. Nice words aside, would you talk to Gloria if you were in Rosemary’s shoes?
Definitely, because Rosemary needs information and Gloria is the most obvious person to ask, at first anyway, right? Even though sometimes woman to woman confrontations are a bit more complex than when the opposite sexes converse.
What do you think Gloria and Rosemary have in common?
They are both trying to do their jobs, the best way they can. Courageous, purposeful and with more personality than meets the eye, I believe.
Do you have any advice for people who would like to start a career in voice acting?
“Don’t quit your day job”! Actually I get many such inquiries as I am a casting director and have worked on over 500 titles. So many people think voice acting would just be a lot of fun. Many make their friends laugh at parties when they do funny voices. Or maybe a guy sounds like a deep voiced radio guy and someone told him “Hey you have a good voice. You should do it for a living”.
What most do not realize is that any job in entertainment requires a very thick skin and the ability to withstand rejection. There are many many wannabes and too many people competing for jobs. Some are really awful. Some not so bad. But also the beauty is in the eye of the beholder. When you audition, you mostly hear nothing back, unless you land the gig. And another issue is getting those auditions. Unless you are on a pay to play site or have an agent, it’s very difficult to get opportunities or casting notices.
Mostly, (I’m not trying to sell my coaching here) make sure you do not pay money for classes or a coach that sucks. And many do suck. Check out that person’s credentials (IMDb, their resume, etc). There’s a saying: “Those who can – do. Those who can’t – teach”. I do not consider people my competition so I coach people to instantly have a way to get a different pitch, texture, accent etc. I don’t beat around the bush telling you “Find your sub-text. Your motivation” and so on.
That’s OK too, but if you can’t stay in character, don’t have consistent voice control, can’t take direction etc, you need more help before jumping into that career.
According to your experience, what’s the difference between acting for a horror title and another kind of game?
Less over the top exaggeration or cartoony performances, I’d say. More mystery and subtle nuance, intrigue and effort to capture the audience’s attention instead of just yelling and fighting in an arena, for example.
As an industry veteran, how have videogames changed during these years? According to you, what does the future have in store for us?
Well in many ways, they’ve improved radically in graphics, memory, and of course, since most are free to download and online, that’s taken away cutscenes a lot and made the competition for games a virtual free-for-all where you hope someone will stick with your game after taking it for a test “drive”. People who have achieved high levels and spent a lot of money with one game already, have a hard time re-devoting more time and money to new titles. This makes competition tough.
I still think scripts are the weak point with many games – not yours though. And that is where the blame should be put in any game, TV show, movie etc. It’s where it all starts. You can’t put gold on a piece of crap and call it a piece of art. We voice actors often get blamed for a bad script, or given credit where a good writer should have had the most pats on the back instead of us.
The future? Well, it’s a turn-style business with very little loyalty when it comes to working for someone else in a large company. So I suspect the big players will still do things like they always do and spend a lot of money. But there are more and more opportunities for people to put out independent games and not have to lose your entire savings account to be competitive.
I have always said that bigger publishers should put more TV ads out with trailers for games from their developers to attract a new audience. And that new audience should not be totally turned off by bad gameplay, non-intuitive quests and bad scripts. But TV ads cost a lot. So smaller companies have to rely more on social media and word of mouth to get exposure.
Most games today make money from micro-transactions, which has become not only frustrating for some gamers, but also makes it hard to track actual sales of games when they are free to download.
I wish everyone the very best of luck and will try to be here to support any future endeavors!
Would you like to say something to the fans of Remothered?
Thank you so much for letting me be a part of this great game. Please tell your friends about it to spread the news and help this game get the wonderful success it deserves. Live lively and prosper!