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Kira Buckland Interview: The Voice of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure’s Jolyne Cujoh Shares Her Thoughts on Voice Acting

Featuring a resume that spans the worlds of anime, gaming, and Twitch streaming, Kira Buckland is a standout voice actor in the space today. During FanimeCon 2024, Gamers Heroes sat down with her to talk about her wide range of work, cats, and how she engages with her “cowmunity.”

Kira Buckland Interview: The Voice of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure’s Jolyne Cujoh Shares Her Thoughts on Voice Acting

Gamers Heroes: First things first: I want to talk about how your range of work is just so incredible. With JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, you’ve got Joylne’s different “styles,” and then you’ve got Sprigatito in Pokémon. How do you prepare for each role?

Kira Buckland: To be totally honest, I started out focusing on the wrong thing. When I first started deciding I wanted to do this, I was trying to do a lot of different voices. 

It’s a common mistake that a lot of new actors make where they worry too much about. 

“Can I sound like all these different characters? Can I do all these different things with my voice?”

Because I had so much of a focus on that early on, I would say I kind of became a range actor. But the problem is, obviously, the most important thing about voice acting is the acting part. And that’s what I needed to work on early on. The person who really helped me with that was my theater teacher in college.

She really helped with explaining the methods for how to get into a character’s head and breaking down a script, understanding how to interpret a scene, all the stuff that’s really, really important for new actors to learn. 

So now the advice that I give people is to worry about learning the acting first, and then the voices will follow. But because I kind of did things out of order, I feel like I ended up being an actor, which is kind of nice. Sometimes I get called in for utility, which is where you play like a bunch of NPCs in a game or show.

Gamers Heroes: One of the things I like is you’ve taken on all sorts of projects. I also like how you do a lot of stuff for the community, like the Bloody Roar 2 Redub Project. What’s it like working on such a wide range of work? 

Kira Buckland: It’s really fun. I love any kind of acting work that I get to do, but video games are my favorite to work on. 

I used to play Smash Bros. and fighting games competitively. I don’t have the time to practice for that anymore, or attend tournaments. But it was really special to me to be in fighting games in particular, because that was the kind of game that I liked to play. 

So my goal for a very long time in my career was always to voice a playable character in a fighting game. And the first one that I got to do was Honoka in Dead or Alive.

Gamers Heroes: And I know you’re in Street Fighter V as well.

Kira Buckland: BlazBlue Cross Tag Battle, SoulCalibur VI, Phantom Breaker Omnia, all sorts of things.

Gamers Heroes: And then I know you were in Fraymakers – that’s really cool!

Kira Buckland: That’s actually a really cool throwback, because the creator of that I had worked with when I was I believe in high school at the time. 

And so because I did the announcer voice for Super Smash Flash back in the day, then he said it will kind of be like come full circle – do you want to be the announcer for this game? 

I was like, absolutely – you don’t have to ask me twice!

Gamers Heroes: Growing up with Newgrounds, I know there was the Voice Acting Club and that you revived it. There’s a new generation I’ve noticed at the event – I definitely feel like I’m personally part of the old guard at this point, going to conventions since Sakura-Con 2007.

How do you inspire this new generation?

Kira Buckland: I think it’s very challenging for the new generation. I mean, there are things that are better and things that are worse compared to when I first started.

The thing that I try to help out with is that there’s more resources and information that’s easily accessible. 

When I was first starting out, it was kind of a mystery, how to break into professional voiceover from doing stuff on the internet, those worlds were completely separate. 

Most of the time, you did not get paid for doing stuff on the internet; even the content creators weren’t making money back then a lot of the time. It was just sort of like collaborating on stuff just to make stuff and get your work out there.

Nowadays, you can get paid for your creative work a lot more easily, but it also means the field is much more competitive. It’s so hard for new voice actors to break in, because there are thousands of people trying to do the same thing. 

So, you know that that can be very challenging, and I don’t envy that for the people who are just getting started. I tell people that it’s important to join these communities because you are getting advice and perspectives from people not only who have been in the business a lot longer than you, but also your peers. 

You’re going to come up alongside a lot of the people who I worked with on amateur voice acting projects 20 years ago, are now also working professionals. It is really cool to see how many people from that generation are now working on anime dubs, gaming, all sorts of things.

Gamers Heroes: I appreciate that too! As a fan, you definitely bring that passion into the roles. 

I noticed that there have been new independent animations in the form of The Amazing Digital Circus and even some of the fan animations for Deltarune.

I know we’re talking about your roles, but are there any types of other roles you admire in the spaces when it comes to this modern animation scene?

Kira Buckland: All the time! I try to take inspiration from everything that I can. It doesn’t matter if I’m playing a video game, or watching a show. 

It doesn’t have to be animated; It can be a live action show – anything that I feel I can absorb by sort of osmosis to improve my own craft – I always try to do that.

As they always say, learning to be a good actor is just like stealing from everyone else who’s already a good actor. You take what you can from all these performances, and you add it to your own toolbox and make things your own, if that makes sense. 

Gamers Heroes: Going back to Sprigatito – I’m a huge cat fan. I’ve got a cat named Sassy that lives up to her name! 

I know that you support Kitten Rescue and Kitty Bungalow – how do you get the word out about those types of things? Do you do signatures, fundraising, or anything along those lines? 

Kira Buckland: Definitely, if I’ve noticed that some of the rescues I support are in dire need of donations. 

A lot of times when people are running a rescue, there are a lot of medical emergencies that happen. Sometimes, they need to do really quick fundraising for things because there’s a huge vet bill that they have to save this cat’s life. Stuff like that is really, really important. 

When I can, I like to try to contribute to those efforts to raise awareness. I’ve definitely done some signings. If I’ve done online signings, I try to always donate some of that to help those rescues. 

I had some art prints done of my cats – if people buy those, I donate some to rescues. I also stream on Twitch. And so I’ve done streams, it’s like, hey, this particular stream is to raise money for this cat or this rescue.

Gamers Heroes: On that note, are there any cat celebrities you admire? I loved Lil BUB and saw her at the Oakland Internet Cat Video Festival.

Kira Buckland: I actually follow a lot of Japanese cats on Instagram. And there’s one who was rescued from a McDonald’s. So they named him Mac –  he’s a cow cat and I love his Instagram posts! I end up following a lot of cow cats.

Gamers Heroes: Tell me about that – why a Cowtuber? I saw a bit, and it’s really cool and unique – I’m sure there’s a story behind it.

Kira Buckland: I’ve just gotten more and more into cows over the years! It started when a cow cat adopted us when we moved into a new place. And he was just kind of sitting outside, and we started feeding him. 

We were like, what if you came in sometimes? I just like ended up loving cows more and more. And when it came time to make a Vtuber model, I asked, “What if I’m a cow?” 

The fun thing about VTubing is your backstory can be as ridiculous as you want. There’s like no limits. So I’m a time-traveling cow from Everspace.

Gamers Heroes: How do you interact with community?

Kira Buckland: What I stream is going to impact that.

I did start streaming Honkai Star Rail recently, but a big part of why I started streaming was because when I voiced a playable character from Genshin Impact, I wanted to pull for my character.

I started playing the game when I was cast, because I know it’s a big property that means a lot to a lot of people. I wanted to at least play a little bit of it, so I can get more familiar with the world and the mechanics, so I can talk about it with people at conventions.

But, as with a lot of gacha games, I got addicted to it. When my character was announced and released, I said, “What if I just try a stream for the first time? Just pull for my character and see if I get her because I’ve been saving up a lot of the in-game currency.” 

My roommate let me know that you can just stream directly from the PlayStation 4, said “I’ll show you how to do it.”

I didn’t have OBS, a streaming laptop, or any of that stuff. I did the stream function built into the PlayStation 4 and said, “I’m going to roll for my character!”

I didn’t think that people would watch, but I got like a nice, little crowd. And so I said, “Well, what if I try it again, when I pull for Itto.” 

I did that and decided to stick with it and grow. My community is still very small and call it my “Cowmunity.” You know, little by little, I try to grow it and I try to make sure that everybody feels included. 

We have a Discord server for the stream, and the big thing we do that I like to think helps foster the community is getting some Genshin co-ops together. So when I stream, I do co-op with my chat to fight weekly bosses and farm for materials. We also have a co-op channel on the discord. 

I can usually only stream once or twice a week because I’m very busy with work and conventions. Even when I can’t stream, a lot of my chat gets together, and they just go off amongst themselves. 

It always makes me really happy to see that!

Gamers Heroes: I can definitely appreciate the importance of building a community. That leads to another point we’re noticing a lot. 

Google’s eating our lunch with all its AI junk, and we’re finding the importance of trying to keep an authentic community and human voice. I’m sure it’s the same way with voice acting and everything that you’re doing.

How are you reacting to these changes with AI?

Kira Buckland: It’s a concern, I’m not going to lie. 

We’ve seen even before AI started creeping in more and more into the creative cultures that there were a lot of big corporations who just wanted to pay as little as possible for creative talent, whether that’s artists, animators, writers, voice actors, you name it. 

There were online freelancer sites where the whole premise was you can get work done for fast and cheap. I feel like it’s kind of like a downward spiral, a race to the bottom.

Then there’s this pressure for people to lower their rates and to devalue their worth on creative works, because they say we can always get someone to do it for cheaper. 

Now with AI, they’re like, “What if we can just cut the humans out of the equation entirely?”

That’s really hard, as someone who makes their living artistically.

I believe some people are very doom and gloom about how it’s going to replace us, and that all our jobs are going to become obsolete. 

I don’t think it’s going to be that.

I think AI unfortunately –  and we’re already seeing this happen – will replace a lot of the “narrate these clickbait YouTube videos” – things like that are almost always AI generated now.

It might replace some of the long-form narration jobs, unfortunately. I would like to think that, for a lot of projects, there’s always going to be a market for human creativity and human emotion. 

I was saying in an interview yesterday that if I go to the movies, as just a consumer, I don’t want to see AI actors on screen; I want to see human actors performing these roles. 

There’s even something to be said for people like these celebrities, and they go to see these celebrities and movies. So I think that there’s already a lot of consumer backlash against companies trying to force AI into things. 

There have been some games that have used AI voices already, and they were received very poorly, because I think, quite bluntly, consumers have high standards.

Gamers Heroes: Amen!

Kira Buckland: As a gamer, I’m sure you remember a lot of the early games would just have the devs or people in the office doing the voices. You know, it’s kind of fun to look back because it’s meme-worthy. 

Nowadays, having voice acting like that in like a cinematic game, it wouldn’t fly. People expect to there’s like this bar of quality. Even with highly trained professional actors, people are very critical. 

They say, “Oh, does it sound like the Japanese if we’re doing something from another language? Do they feel the emotion was right in the scene? If this is a waifu or husbando voice, does it accurately portray how they want their waifu or husbando to sound?”

I think consumers are listening and watching very critically. The technology is getting better, but it’s always going to sound a little odd. People are going to complain that this isn’t good, this isn’t a good product. 

Gamers Heroes: I think quality is definitely important, especially with these strong fandoms. Definitely appreciate what you bring to the table there.

Kira Buckland: Thank you!

Gamers Heroes: What advice would you give to people that are just starting out with cosplay? I do the fast casual type of stuff, but I know some people are really intricate with their costumes; they put a lot of work!

I know there are different pathways for people. What would you suggest for somebody who’s just starting out that wants to get into the scene?

Kira Buckland:  I think it’s okay to have fun and just do what you’re comfortable with! 

There’s a lot of pressure because we see these cosplayers who have amazing craftsmanship, every accurate detail, all that kind of stuff.

That is great if you have the time and skill to learn and devote yourself to that! I have many friends who do that, and I really admire what they do.

When I tried to learn sewing and crafting, I was not good at it and I didn’t have the patience. 

Now I’m trying to learn wig styling and makeup – that’s something that I’m working on because I like wigs and makeup. 

Then, for the outfit I just kind of these days, I mostly just wear something in the vibe of the character. Sometimes, I’ll do a full outfit. 

A lot of times, I just want to be comfortable if I’m running around a convention. I know some people also feel like they’re not valid if they have a bought cosplay. 

As long as you are entering competitions, where craftsmanship is being judged and presenting it as if you made that, it is completely fine to just buy a costume online and wear that, so you can meet other people from that same fandom and feel confident and comfortable. 

The other thing, of course, that always bears repeating, is that cosplay is for everyone, no matter your race, gender, size, etc.

Gamers Heroes: One of the reasons we got onto Metacritic and OpenCritic was from our specialization in the indie game scene.

How can we as journalists help you and the greater indie scene?

Kira Buckland: I think just getting coverage out about smaller games made by indie teams is always helpful, because so much of what I hear from friends who have tried to make a game or worked on a game like this is that it’s really, really hard to get the word out because a lot of times the budgets are very small. 

They can always hire influencers to stream their games, they can always hire marketing teams, all that kind of stuff. So they do rely on getting the word out organically or having websites pick it up and say, “Hey, this looks cool. Let’s review it.” 

I’ve gotten to do a little bit of voice casting work for some indie games before, actually one of them was a fighting-rhythm game hybrid called God of Rock that I was pretty proud of.

It’s hard for those games to get press coverage because, understandably, people want to cover whatever the hot new game of the season is.

Gamers Heroes: You’ve voiced Jolyne Cujoh; what’s your next major dream role? I know you mentioned Asuka, and we’ve got Shinji in the house.

Kira Buckland: I always say it’s like what Sakurai meme about never asking for anything again.

I’m not allowed to ask for anything because I was Jolyne, which is what I wanted more than anything. 

But if – if! – hypothetically, I ever got to choose another one…if Dizzy from Guilty Gear ever got an English voice, I’d love to at least audition for the role.

Gamers Heroes: Thank you for your time – definitely starstruck!

For those that’d like to stay connected with Kira Buckland, be sure to follow her on Twitter/X, on Twitch, and Instagram.

A very special thank you to Kira Buckland for her time and the FanimeCon staff for this interview opportunity!

Casey Scheld

Casey Scheld has more than 15 years of experience in the gaming industry as a community manager, social media director, event specialist, and (of course) gaming editor. He has previously worked with gaming start-ups like Raptr, publishers like Konami, and roller derby girls at PAX West (check out Jam City Rollergirls)! Gamers Heroes is a passion project for him, giving him a chance to tap into the underground side of gaming. He is all too eager to give these lesser-known heroes of the indie space the attention they so rightly deserve, seeking out the next gem and sharing it with the world. Previously making appearances at events like CES, GDC, and (the late) E3, he is all too happy to seek out the next big thing. For those that want to talk shop, send over a tip, or get an easy win in a fighting game of their choosing, be sure to check out his social media channels below.

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