Movie director Mamoru Hosoda’s latest anime film ‘BELLE’ had a strong showing at the Japanese box office and made a splash when it was released in North America. After acquiring the license, GKIDs tapped voice directors Michael Sinterniklaas and Stephanie Sheh to make an English dub version starring Kylie McNeill as protagonist Suzu aka Belle, in her first starring role.
The young actress spoke with the Anime News Network about the role and what it was like debuting in her feature film.
” I got the casting audition from my agent and I auditioned in August,” she said describing how she got the role. “I just recorded it in my room on my laptop and sent it in. I think while they were casting me, my YouTube was used as a reference to hear more of me singing… I actually recorded the first audition in my bathroom. I was staying in Atlanta because my mom was working there, and I had a bathroom space that I made my little recording studio.”
McNeill continued, “I’ve been singing ever since I was super little. My parents raised me on Broadway cast albums. My abuelo was a flamenco singer. My mother sings. I went to a performing arts high school where I majored in musical theater. I think I started my YouTube channel two or three years ago. I haven’t posted too much.”
When asked if she saw a difference between Suzu and Belle, she shared her thoughts on the two as one character.
“Well for Suzu, I definitely tapped into my awkward teenage years, which I’m just barely escaping now,” she explained. “I really relate to her. I was super shy in high school. I barely spoke except when I was performing for class, which was required. For Belle, she has more of an air of confidence around her because she’s in her avatar and she feels more comfortable. I tried to play that up.”
‘BELLE’ is currently in theaters in both the Japanese and English audio formats.
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