“If I can help one person, then it’s worth it”
BY ELEANOR NOYCE, IMAGE BY ARRYN ZECH
Last month, I caught up with Arryn Zech at QFX East, an LGBTQI fan convention in Tampa, Florida. Voicing Blake Belladonna in cult anime series RWBY, we sat down to discuss the RWBY fandom, being a role model and, importantly, Arryn’s many tattoos.
DIVA: Hey, Arryn! Could you introduce yourself?
I’m a voice actress and I do predominantly a show called RWBY. I was also on a show called Red versus blue.
DIVA: What inspired you to get into acting? What has your journey been like?
I’ve always been the theatre kid. I was always the kid who would do weird voices and accents. I went to a musical theatre high school, and it was like, if I hear Sutton Foster’s name one more time, I’m going to shoot myself in the foot. So I went to college for writing. But then obviously I missed it, because if you’re a theatre kid, you’re a theatre kid. There’s nothing else that will make your heart happy. So the creator of the show, RWBY, knew that I was an actress and he was like, hey, I’ve got this project that I want to do. And I want you to do it. I was still in college at the time and I thought it was just going to be this little side project. And then it just blew up. And now here we are, travelling the world and meeting people. I hate to say it, but I’ve been real blessed.
DIVA: And for the readers that don’t know RWBY, could you introduce the series?
The best way that I’ve been able to describe it so far is it’s like Harry Potter meets Magical Girl. It’s an American anime. And it’s about these four girls who go to school and they’re all from different walks of life. Two of them are sisters. And then one is a fondness which is a human animal breed. The other one is an heiress, and the fondness and heiress don’t get along. They all come together into this one school and they learn to be hunters and huntresses and they fight grim, the bad monsters in the world. But then we learned that there’s a bigger baddy out in the world named Salem. It starts off happy, go-lucky and then it gets dark.
DIVA: And what drew you towards voice acting? How do you perceive it as being different from on-screen acting?
I actually didn’t consider voice acting at all. When I think back on it, it’s honestly incredibly fitting for me because again, I was that kid who was doing accents and doing different voices and stuff. And it’s honestly just a different skill set of the same thing. So it’s all acting, but I don’t think a lot of people realise that whenever you’re voice acting, you’re alone in a box. And you’re reading against the director, not another actor. You have to focus a lot on how you say your words, and I don’t think people realise a lot of the emotion that’s portrayed is 70% in your face. Blake, who I play in RWBY is really mellow and chill, and I had to go in twice because she’s got a very monotoned voice.
DIVA: RWBY has a huge fandom, too. What do your fans mean to you?
Well, I mean, this show has changed my life. And I was going through a really rough time. I’ve had such an incredible support from the fandom. Being able to do these cons again, I’ve kind of come out of my shell in the sense that I’ve written about my experiences with mental health and eating disorders and abusive relationships, and just trying to be honest and open about those kinds of things online. If I can help one person, then it’s worth it. People have made me realise just how impactful words can be, and it just makes me very appreciative of the welcoming community that is the RWBY fandom.
DIVA: Now, very serious question. Could you tell me about your tattoos? Do they have stories?
My favourite is the mermaid. She’s actually not done but the more I have her unfinished, the more it feels right. Then I’ve got a bumblebee which is actually for the show. And then The fool tarot card is you have to be able to laugh at yourself. You have to be able to walk blindly into it off the cliff and just do it. Have no fear. I’ve got the orchid for my dad, but I’ve also got the Belladonna plant for Blake and French lavender for my French family. And then Texas Mount Laurel for my mom.
DIVA: What’s next for you? Do you have any upcoming projects?
I’m doing a short, an on-camera thing that I’m really, really excited about, because it’s my first on camera thing that I’ve done since starting RWBY. RWBY also has a Japanese anime, so it’s in Japanese first and we’re dubbing it in English. I’m really looking forward to it.
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