We’re living in the social media generation, and voice actors have embraced it fully—it’s an opportunity to market themselves while sharing their interests. Some have growing families and are involved in their community. Others like to travel. And then there are those who not only voice anime characters, but personally love anime and other geeky properties. At the head of that list is Elizabeth Maxwell, who in recent years has gained prominence as the voice behind fan favorite characters like Ymir (Attack on Titan) and Midnight (Boku no Hero Academia). I caught up with her at Wizard World Austin last month.
Maxwell grew up knee deep in geek and pop culture properties, like Raiders of the Lost Ark, Wizard of Oz, and John Carpenter films. She was also a gamer, with JRPGs like Chrono Trigger and early Final Fantasy titles in her wheelhouse. Her brother was responsible for shaping her entertainment consumption (“I’m really thankful that he has good taste!”), including with anime titles—some of her early favorites included JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure and Escaflowne.
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As the younger sister to an older brother, #TheSecretOfMana was by far one of my favorite games growing up. Not only was it an amazing, gorgeous RPG (my fave), but it was a super rare local multiplayer RPG (essentially, two people could sit side by side and play it together, at the same time, on the same team). . . Now I am an adult, and instead of sharing a console with my brother I share one with my boyfriend, but I am JUST AS EXCITED to play the remastered version of the game as kid-me. And also because I am an adult, I voice one of the characters – the delightfully cocky and generally inept Scorpion Boss. WHAT IS THIS LIFE???
As an actress, she’s now involved in series she might have watched as a fan. But while there’s a connection between her work and interests, acting was always the goal, regardless: “It influenced my decision to go into acting, but not in the way you might think.” Determined to be an actress since she was five years old, voice work came later in her career. Maxwell’s interest influenced the type of voice acting she pursued, however, as she veered toward character pieces instead of commercials.
Her first big VA role was Ymir, though she actually read for Annie. “With Funimation, the way it typically works is that they’ll have a handful of male and female characters that they’ll have actors audition for. Typically, the characters are archetypal.” The Annie audition led to her receiving the role for which she’s most known. Others of note are Motoko (Ghost in the Shell: Arise) and Bishamon (Noragami), the latter being one of her “most emotionally invested” roles. She also voices a number of characters for Rooster Teeth series, like Winter Schnee (RWBY) and Nikki from Camp Camp, the latter being “one of the most nearest and dearest” to her heart as that character reminds her a lot of what she was like as a child.
Elizabeth tells us what her favorite Ghibli films are.
Maxwell also voices a number of characters in games. She explained that the most fundamental difference between anime and video game jobs is that latter tend to be prelay—actors record voices first as opposed to dubbing to preexisting flaps (ADR). There’s more artistic freedom with video game characters, but they can also be challenging. “You have to merge or marry composition. You’ll carry along a quest but still have to keep the performance interesting and multidimensional and engaging.”
Judging by the response to her work, Maxwell is more than up for the challenge. And with the characters she plays and the series she works on—she’s having a lot of fun along the way.