Now out on Blu-ray and DVD, Appleseed: Alpha (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, 93 minutes) is an origin story that details the quest for the seemingly halcyon city of Olympus by Deunan (Luci Christian) and her cyborg partner Briareos (David Matranga).
The storyline is set in the apocalyptic wasteland of New York, where Mecha warriors hold dominance over the area. Actress Brina Palencia, who was recently seen on the CW series Star-Crossed, provides the voice and motion capture of Iris, a young girl who plays an important part in Deunan and Briareos’ heroic journey.
We recently chatted with Palencia, an actress who has flourished as a live action actress (The Walking Dead, Ghost of Goodnight Lane) and as a voice actor (Black Butler). She talked about her excitement over Alphaseed Alpha as well as her work on Star-Crossed and The Walking Dead. Palencia, who is also devoting a healthy share of her time writing new projects, also dished out some common sense (and insightful) thoughts on the acting process. Check out our interview below:
Was the scope of the project a huge draw for you in doing Appleseed: Alpha?
Absolutely, and Appleseed has such a huge following. I was familiar with the franchise before I signed to do it and I’m really excited to be part of it. When I was initially pulled on it was not to do the voiceover, it was actually to do the motion capture and the facial capture. I was ecstatic to find out I got to do the voice as well. So it worked out.
With the voice acting and motion capture work, Appleseed Alpha must have been a very gratifying experience.
It was very exciting for me because I never motion captured and voice acted a character before. Usually I do voice acting and I’ve done a little bit of motion capture – so this is my first foray in being able to do both.
I do a lot of on camera acting as well, and it was really cool to kind of combine those two styles of acting because motion capture is very filmic. Getting to do the filmic version of it first and getting to redub it with the voice acting was a really unique and special experience for me.
What was it like watching the animation come alive before your eyes?
It’s really incredible to see it go from just from the dots with our mo-cap (motion capture) suits to what it is now. It’s mind blowing how talented the animators are and you can really see how passionate they must have about the project. They must have taken countless hours just to get it to look realistic and beautiful .
What are your general thoughts on anime as an art form?
I think the anime world is a tough one to pin down because a lot of people are only exposed to one version of it. So they may think, ‘Oh it’s just girls with bouncy boobs and panties’ and that’s not what it is. Anime is so diverse and there is so many beautiful franchises like Appleseed that are so much more deep and make you question things about life. There is a lot of anime out there that I wish would get more play so people who are not more anime watchers could go, ‘Oh there is much more to this.”
One of the themes of Appleseed is the idea of involving oneself in humanity no matter what the cost.
That’s one of the things I love about the film. Do you fight for what you want the world to be or do you let the world do its own thing and you do your own thing? I think what you come to realize that in order for the world to be livable and to be this wonderful place that we all want it to be, we all have to work towards that. Gandhi said “be the change you want to be in the world.” I think that’s a big theme for the whole film.
What has been like for you working on The Walking Dead and Star-Crossed? Both genre pieces with also deep themes behind the story.
Well, first of I’m a huge Walking Dead fan. I read the graphic novels so the fact that I got to be in it was so gratifying. I just love the zombie idea in general. Just kind of seeing what happens to the human race as a whole and seeing how our morals are affected by any sort of apocalyptic event like that.
With Star-Crossed, it was really cool getting to play a pansexual character and having it not be some risqué, crazy wild character. I like that my character was this really sweet (person) and the most morally grounded person on the whole show. She just happened to be pansexual. It didn’t feel like it was a huge deal and they treated it like it was any other love story, which I appreciated.
When people ask you for acting advice, what do you usually offer?
There is so many different ways to go about it, but I think the one that kind of remains consistent as far as people that I know that are really successful – it’s just committing yourself to the art of acting and not focusing so much on trying to have the best body or the best clothes or whatever. Just focusing on your art form and your passion, and not trying to limit yourself to just doing voice acting, or on camera (work), or commercials. Just being an actor and love being an actor.
It’s a tough gig, you’ll have amazing years and years when you’re not really doing anything and you always have to work towards perfecting your craft rather than working toward getting a job. You’ll be much happier if that’s your goal (as opposed) to trying to be famous.
So perseverance is part of being an actor?
Absolutely. You never want to get comfortable. You should always be trying to challenge and better yourself as an actor and as a human. I firmly believe that a lot of what we do in our life, shows (up) in our work. The more you are trying to connect with people and working with technique and all that kind of stuff – the better.
What are you working on right now?
I’ve been working a lot right now on writing so hopefully I’ll have more original stuff coming out again. A few years ago, I produced a web series called The Troubadors and I have an online personality on my YouTube channel she’s called Kagura4221973 she’s a hardcore anime fangirl.
I wrote a new song for her, but I’m trying to do it super epic, maybe have a string quartet and everything (laughs). I’m in the process of writing that and hopefully will have a new video out by the end of the year.
Another thing I’m focusing on is writing. I feel like there should be more women writers out there because there’s not a lot of great female roles (out there). Luckily, I’ve been able to play a lot of great ones but I feel like there’s a lack of really good female roles in a lot of media and I want to do what I can to remedy that by contributing.
Is it a cliché to say one should live in New York and Los Angeles to carve out a showbiz career?
I definitely think it’s becoming a lot less centralized thanks to the internet, and with The Walking Dead, Appleseed: Alpha, and Star-Crossed, I got all those roles by auditioning on tape. It was all submitted through the interwebs and through an agent and all that. There’s more stuff that’s being filmed in Louisiana right now than in California. I think it’s becoming a lot easier in another city. I do think it’s important to live in a city (because) if you’re living in a small town there’s not too many opportunities. If you’re living in a big city like Dallas, Houston, or Austin I think you’re presented with a lot of options as far as how you can be a fulltime actor.
*****Special Features on Appleseed: Alpha include the 52-minute “The Making of Appleseed: Alpha” (it covers every aspect of the film’s production, from conceptual design to motion/facial capture) and filmmakers’ commentary (including director Shinji Aramaki and producerJoseph Chou).
If you want to view select sections of the featurette, it’s also broken down to 11 chapters (Palencia is briefly featured on the motion and facial capture segments).