A-Kon 24, June 1, 2013
Me: You have a reputation for being outspoken about your faith…
Me: I think that’s a good thing. Could you relate to us your testimony about how you came to Christ?
Vic: Absolutely. I was one of those people that was born in church. My grandfather was the pastor of a church in western Pennsylvania: Church of the Open Door. And my mom played the piano in church and my dad was in charge of the literature. So I literally was born in a pew. And so, I grew up in church. I knew all the stories; I was complete immersed in that culture from the time I was born. My grandfather started a Christian school in our church and I was one of the first students, of course. I was 13 years old when I heard a message from my youth pastor on a passage from Matthew 7. And it’s the passage where God says many will come in that day and say, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and cast out devil and preach in your name and done all these wonderful things” and God will say, “And will say to them that day, ‘Depart from me, I never knew you.’” And our youth pastor went on to preach about how many people were going to be shocked to find out that they grew up in a Christian home, they went to Christian schools, they knew all the lingo, but they had never personally made a decision to consciously accept Christ into their lives. They had never for themselves welcomed God into their lives. For me, I was riding on my grandpa’s coattails. I figured, “Hey, I gotta be in the club, right? My grandpa’s a pastor. My mom plays the piano. I mean, I’m in church every time the doors are open. I go to Christian school, I’ve memorized thousands of Bible verses. I must be in the club. And when I heard that, I realized, I had never actually made a decision for myself. So when I was 13, I accepted Christ.
Me: Thank you. Do you find that there’s any difficulty being a Christian and a voice actor?
Vic: Well, I think there are difficulties being a Christian anywhere, especially if you choose to be outspoken. But you know, the Bible talks about hiding your light under a bushel, you know, and hiding the gift you’ve been given. What good is it, you know? I’ve heard people talk before – I’ve talked to friend of mind before – who says, “Well, my religion is very private. My faith is very private.” Well, then what good is it? I’m sorry, but really! If it doesn’t impact your life and the way people – the way you treat people – and if you don’t share this amazing gift you’ve been given with people that God love just as much as he loves you, if you keep that kind of gift to yourself, then what good is it?
So I feel like Christians in any field should be outspoken, not in a lambasting, beat people over the head with a Bible kind of a way, but in a way that says, “I have been given an amazing gift. I didn’t earn it. I don’t deserve it, but I’ve been given this amazing gift, and guess what? It’s available to you, too.” That’s good news, you know what I mean? So, whenever I get a chance to share my faith at conventions for instance, or with anime fans, I never give them the classic, “You’re going to hell and God hates this and that and you’d better get saved and…” No, I tell them God is madly in love with them and he wants to have a relationship with them and what I try to share with them is the good news of the gospel, which is largely shrouded by a lot of other noise these days.
But it is challenging. There are a lot of people out there that have literally devoted Facebook pages to hating Vic Mignogna. Now there is only one reason for that. There is only – if you look at any videos, look at any documentation of me interacting with fans and you will not find one example of me being cruel or mean or short or in any way being rude or dismissive ever, ever, ever, ever, EVER, EVER, EVER. In the 250 conventions and the tens of thousands of kids I’ve met, I have never mistreated or been rude or cruel or condescending ever. So why do they hate me? Why do these people hate me? There’s only one conceivable reason. Cause I take a stand for my faith. Because I share my faith. And somehow that makes me a big target for ridicule and people make up horrible lies about me. Horrible lies! Things that are so disgusting, and I think, who has time in their day, in their life, to sit around and make up hurtful stories about somebody who has never done anything to them or anyone else and then take the time to post it, and cause all kinds of horrible rumors and stuff? But there are a handful of people that do and what I find out most times is that they don’t like the fact that I am outspoken about my faith. They don’t like the fact that I claim the name of Jesus and that I give God all the glory and all the credit for any good that’s come into my life. And somehow they feel the need to trash, you know, trash talk and create a lot of noise and negativity and I’m very sorry about that. But you know, it reminds me of that passage in Matthew 5, you know, in the Beatitudes, where Jesus says, “Blessed are you when men shall revile you and persecute you and say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake.”
Me: I’m glad you brought that up, because there are those malicious rumors out there about you and a lot of the people who I know that are Christian and anime fans, they pretty much unanimously talk about how great of a guy you are, so I’m glad you’re able to clear that up.
Vic: Well, I do my best to be and I’ve had kids who have literally challenged these haters to produce one shred of evidence. There are thousands of video cameras rolling at every convention I go to. Where’s the proof? Where’s the proof that I was stumbling around drunk? Where’s the proof that I yelled and screamed at a fan because they liked yaoi? Where’s the proof that I told a fan I wouldn’t sign something for them because they told me they were Buddhist. Where’s the proof? Where’s the proof? There isn’t any and I try not to allow it to get me upset, but it can be discouraging when you try so hard to be kind to every single person you meet and yet there are kids out there who are just dead set on being hateful and causing you trouble. It’s really disappointing.
Me: Kind of a little bit on that topic, we talked – I asked you about how it is with non-Christians, basically, but how about feedback from the Christian community about voice acting? I know you have a certain culture that isn’t necessarily gracious or love-filled sometimes, even though they’re in the church, and anime is strange and foreign.
Vic: I have a story to tell you, hehe. For ten years, I led worship music for my church in Houston.
Me: I read that.
Vic: Houston’s First Baptist – we’re not talking about 300 people. We’re talking about 5,000 membership and I led the worship team there. Played the piano out in front, wrote the charts, led the band, directed the music for that service. I got called in one day to a board room in the church and there were five or six people sitting around the table. And one of them said, “Vic, I saw online that you play this character in a show. You play this teenage boy who’s rebellious, agnostic-atheist young boy, and he does magic and alchemy. Now, Vic, we can’t have someone like that on stage at our church. What kind of example are you showing these kids?”
I sat across the table from this man and I started to tear up. And I said, “You have no idea how many people I’m able to reach for Christ because these kids like my work.” There are kids – tens of thousands of them – that my pastor will never reach. They will never darken the door of First Baptist Church or any church, but they like Ouran High School, or they like Fullmetal Alchemist, or they like Dragonball Z, and they will listen to me talk and share my faith and share God’s love for them because they like my work. I sat there and I said, “Are you serious, really?” First of all, I’m an actor. It’s a role I’m playing. It’s not me, and anyone who has have a brain knows that you’re playing a role. It’s not indicative of who you are. And number two, my job in anime has opened so many doors for me to get to share my faith with tens of thousands of people who would never otherwise be open to it.
And I was literally removed from leading worship because the powers that be felt that, you know, felt that it was not a good example for someone that was involved with anime and voicing characters like this – you know what’s something else they cited? They said, “We’ve seen a lot of picture – drawings of you and your characters on a place called deviantArt. Vic, deviant! What kind of place is that for a believer, Vic? Deviant? That’s a bad word.” I just, I kinda just sat back in my chair and threw my hands up. I’m like, you 65-year-old guys – you have no idea what you’re talking about! First of all, I have nothing to do with deviantArt. If some fan wants to draw a picture and put it on deviantArt, what does that have to do with me? That would be like me going into a bookstore, taking a Bible off the Bible rack, and walking over and putting it in the adult book rack. I mean, just because it’s there doesn’t mean that the Bible has anything to do with the books around it any more than somebody drawing a picture of a character of mine or whatever, putting it on deviantArt. There’s nothing wrong with that. But these guys are so uniformed and some of them – and this is Christianity in general – there is a faction of Christianity that is so steeped in their legalism and their strict rules and regulations and their separatist view of being separate in every way, shape, and form, that they are of no value to the kingdom of God. They’re not reaching anyone. In fact, they’re turning people off. They’re doing exactly the opposite.
What did Apostle Paul write? “I am become all things to all me that by all means I might save some.” That was the goal. That’s the priority. Doing whatever you can, with whatever you have, to reach whoever you can. That’s the goal. I don’t know where that got lost. I don’t know at what point and time the church got the impression that God’s main purpose for the church was to build a little wall around itself and throw rocks and people outside the walls, you know what I mean? And even attack their own.
Me: Does it dampen your feelings about church in general?
Vic: No. No, I have very strong – my whole life, I have very strong love of the church. I’ve been in it my whole life and a few years ago I started attending more conventions, which of course take place on the weekends. In fact, it happened when I was removed from leading the worship team. Suddenly, my weekends are now free, right? I’m not serving – I’m not leading the worship team. And it’s ironic because right at the same time I started getting more invitations to conventions. What I think I heard God say was, “Forget them. Forget ‘em. I’m gonna use you in another area to do a lot bigger things.”
Me: So let me ask you – I interviewed Caitlin Glass.
Vic: Ah, my darling.
Me: Y’all sometimes lead worship on Sunday mornings. How did that come about?
Vic: Well, she and I were at Youmacon in Detroit, many years ago, and we were sitting at the convention one evening, like in the green room or something. At the time, I was still leading music at my church. Caitlin was leading and was singing at the group in her church in Dallas and she said to me, “You know if we weren’t here this weekend, tomorrow morning we would be in church.” And I said, “Yeah,” and we talked about how we would miss it, because we loved serving. There aren’t many things that give you greater joy than giving back to God what he gave you in the first place. And Caitlin said, “Hey, there’s a piano in the lobby. Why don’t you and I meet downstairs tomorrow morning before the con gets started and we can have our own little worship time?” Sounded like a great idea, so the next morning, Caitlin and I went down there. Sure enough, no one was stirring. Its 9 am on a Sunday morning – no one’s awake at a con. So I sat down at the piano and quietly played and she and I sang songs together and closed our eyes and spent a little time worshipping. Opened my eyes and there were kids all around the piano – like 50 kids at least, jammed in. So I go, “Oh, wow,” where did they come from, right? And I just happened to have my New Testament in my back pocket and I started sharing and the following weeks after that convention, Caitlin and I got so many positive emails and encouraging letters from the people who were there. And I thought, “Maybe this is what I’m supposed to be doing.”
Maybe God put me where he put me not to make much of Vic Mignogna, but to make much of Him and to share his love with these kids, a lot of whom have been very disenchanted and disenfranchised from Christianity by people in their lives who have told them that God hates anime and God hates that they wear black and God hates that they pierce their noses and God hates that they have purple hair and blah blah blah blah blah, all of which God doesn’t give a flying flip about. God loves them and who they are on the inside and that is the message that I want to share with these kids more than anything.
Me: That’s awesome. Let’s see…Have you ever declined a role…
Vic: Many times. Haha, many times.
Me: What’s that line?
Vic: Pardon me?
Me: What’s that line where you…
Vic: It’s hard to say. It really is hard to say. I’ve played some really wacky characters; I’ve played some pervy characters. But I think for me, it kind of comes down to how necessary is this? And how is this evil character – let’s say a bad guy for instance – how is this bad guy portrayed? Is his evil glorified? Does he get what’s coming to him in the end? Or does he prevail? Is it comedic? Or is it to be taken seriously? What’s the overall flavor of the show? If it’s a show that’s nothing but boobies bouncing around, then no, I don’t need to be a part of it, you know what I’m saying?
But I will say this: I have been a part of shows that I regretted, because I didn’t know enough about the show. That happens. We get called in and they’re like, “Do this” and you don’t even know the context. You don’t even know and then you hear about it and you’re like, “Oh my gosh.” There have actually been a couple of shows where I used a stage name because after I found out the show, I’m like, “Oh, ah, I don’t really want my name on this.” And of course the fans find out anyway, but I do my best. I’ve become a lot more free about this. I’ve had several conversations about this with Caitlin about this, and I’ve actually become a lot more free about the roles that I do because I came to the realization – not realization, that’s not the right word. I decided that God knows my heart, first of all – he knows my desire to please him, honor him.
And also, I’m an actor. So any role that I play is just a character. It’s a fictitious role. It’s not me. It doesn’t reflect in any way, shape, or form what I believe, and anyone who knows me, or spends ten minutes watching videos on Youtube, know who I am and would know that this character is not indicative of me, it’s just a role that I’m playing. So, I do my best to make good decisions. I don’t always make good decisions, but I do my best and I also let myself be guided by the Holy Spirit. If I believe what I say I believe, then I believe that God’s Spirit dwells inside of me and He speaks to me, you know, with nudgings in certain ways and a little apprehension about this or that and his Spirit helps guide me in decisions I make in things I should or shouldn’t be involved in. So, again, there is no strong, set, black and white line. You just do the best you can in each situation.
Me: I’ve got one last question. Do you have any words of advice for aspiring voice actors out there, particularly Christian ones?
Vic: The entertainment business in general is a very difficult business. It’s hard to get in to. Often it has nothing to do with your talent. It has to do with being in the right place at the right time or meeting the right person or whatever. But the entertainment industry in general is not friendly to Christianity. I don’t think there is anybody who can watch television or movies and disagree with that. There are hundreds of movies made about murder and sex and drugs and rape and you know, dismemberment and gore and virtually no films made that celebrate or promote any kind of Christian value. That shouldn’t be a surprise to anybody. I mean, the scripture makes it clear, this world is not our home. They’re going to hate us because they hated Him. Why should it surprise anybody that they hate me or that they write bad things online or that they’re antagonistic against people who take a stand for their faith? It shouldn’t surprise us, but if somebody wants to get into the entertainment business, they really need to know that going in. They need to go in with their eyes wide open and realize that if they intend to be a light. If they intend to be vocal and outspoken about their faith, then they’re going to receive opposition; they’re going to be passed over for opportunities; they’re going to be vilified and maligned online; they’ll be ostracized by different people. That’s just the way it is. So I would encourage anybody, if you really feel like this is a passion and something you really, really want to do, then great, go for it, but go in with your eyes wide open, being aware of the challenges you’re going to meet.
Me: Thank you.