Last year, Fire Emblem Fates debuted in North America, swiftly becoming the most successful and popular incarnation in the series’ history. To celebrate Fates’ one year anniversary, I interviewed voice actress Rena Strober, who lent both her acting and singing talents to the English-language version of the game as Princess Azura—a rare feat for games, both in America and overseas!
This year, Rena reprised her role for the mobile game Fire Emblem Heroes. She can also be heard as protagonist Hope in the mobile and computer game, Republique, and villainess Green Esmeraude in the latest English dub of Sailor Moon.
Azura as she appears in Fire Emblem Heroes
What was it like recording for Fire Emblem Heroes and Republique? Is voice acting for a mobile game any different from lending your talents to a console game or an anime dub?
Every voiceover job is different for me. The roles vary in age, genre and personality. There’s no difference however if I’m recording for a game on a console versus a mobile app. I approach each role with the same amount of enthusiasm and respect. However, doing anime is different because we’re matching the mouth movements from the previously recorded animation. This was really only the case for Sailor Moon when I voiced Esmeraude. Some of the other games have a specific time frame the line needs to be said in, but I’m still able to bring my own voice and creativity to the lines.Rena Strober
What have been your favorite lines (or songs) to record for Azura in both Fire Emblem: Fates and Fire Emblem Heroes. My personal favorite is the up-tempo version of Lost in Thoughts All Alone from the Conquest path. Were there any lines that you found more emotionally demanding?
I LOVE Lost in Thoughts!! It was so much fun to record and explore the various tempos and versions that the game included. Some were soft and slow and others, like the uptempo versions really allowed me to use my full voice.Rena Strober
I also prefer lines where the character shows vulnerability. This is something you can’t fake in a microphone so it’s more challenging but so much more rewarding when you nail it. When Azura is about to be killed she softly says ‘Kill me if you want, but do it as yourself.” I loved working on that line because Azura had to come to terms with the fact that she might be losing her life.Rena Strober
How did you get in the mindset of voicing Esmeraude in Sailor Moon? She’s both hysterically funny and diabolical at the same time. How did you come up with that trademark laugh?
I’ve never gotten to voice a villain so this role made me so happy!! I’m a singer so the laugh came naturally and I used my higher singing range for it. Esmeraude’s personality was a mix of Kim Catrall’s Samantha Jones from Sex in the City with a little Carol Kane from Princess Bride. I just had so much fun with her and tried not to think of her as evil but just someone who would do anything to get what she wanted.Rena Strober
Esmeraude LOVES cake. I always thought that made her the most relatable Sailor Moon antagonist!
You have extensive work on and off Broadway: What have your favorite roles been so far? If a Fire Emblem Fates or Sailor Moon R musical ever found its way to the states, could you see yourself getting involved?
I LOVED getting to do Les Miserables on Broadway. The score is stunning and getting to sing it 8 times a week was a dream come true. I also loved getting to play Belle in Beauty & The Beast because she’s one of the strongest Disney Princesses and little girls would get so excited when I came out in the yellow dress. If any of my games or shows were done as musicals I’d be the first to sign up!Rena Strober
Do you have any experience performing comedy, particularly in improv, sketch, or standup?
YES!! I do a lot of comedy both live and on TV. I studied at the Upright Citizens Brigade** in Los Angeles but before that I was one of the youngest members of the New York Friar’s Club in NYC. I’m also a recurring guest star on the Disney Channel Original TV show Liv & Maddie and will appear in Season 6 of VEEP on HBO. I’m a very funny person (Kidding!) 🙂Rena Strober
**Several writers at ComedyNGaming have studied at the Upright Citizens Brigade in NYC!
You read it here first: Azura X Mark Ruffalo is THE CANON pairing!
Growing up, what sorts of art did you enjoy? When did you know that you wanted to be a singer and actress?
I was that kid who only listened to Broadway soundtracks and 80’s music growing up. I went to a professional musical theater summer camp starting at age 11 and did every local musical in my town. From the age of 4 years old, when my mom put me in Ballet class, I knew the stage was my home.Rena Strober
Azura uses her song to spread peace and affect change across realms. Do you think artists have a responsibility to speak out against injustice in the world?
ABSOLUTELY!! Artists have a unique gift of taking pain and turning it into art and entertainment. Art seeps into our subconscious differently than news or articles. It’s our responsibility to use these talents to help teach the world to listen, be kind, and be open to change.Rena Strober
Do you have any advice or words of inspiration for fans that might be feeling hopeless and helpless in the current political climate? How have you been keeping your spirits up?
To be honest, every day I feel pain, frustrations and anger towards our current political climate. I see friends struggle with their rights being taken away, families who can’t visit friends because their visas are being questioned, and fellow women whose rights are being challenged. I have taken the proactive approach. Every day, I make calls to local politicians, I sign petitions and make my voice heard. I’m also using my art to inspire and make people smile during this time. We can’t remain angry because then we’ll all just be miserable, but if we feel like we can make a difference then it’s worth it to keep fighting. My advice is don’t shut yourself off to the ‘other side.’ Engage in conversations, try to create change internally within families and most importantly, use your voice!!!!Rena Strober