InParisTexas Interviews Tia Ballard, Anime Voice Actress
A few months back while browsing for information on Paris, Texas I came across an anime voice actress named Tia Ballard. When learning that she was from Paris, I was pleasantly surprised and went about introducing myself. As someone who likes some anime and someone with a best friend who is OBSESSED with anime, (that’s putting it lightly) I felt that I needed to interview her. She is such a lovely person and I felt honored to have met her!
InParisTexas: Are you a Paris native or did you just move there at some point in your life?
TiaBallard: I am a Paris native. My family has lived in Paris since the 1800s. My rear was branded with the Eiffel Tower wearing a cowboy hat the day I was born. Just kidding!
InParisTexas: It says on your wiki page that you went to Paris Jr. College. How was that experience for you?
At the art program I was surrounded by many wonderful local artists The instructor, Susan Moore, taught me that though art has rules and boundaries, the knowledge of how to use them can give someone the freedom of creating exactly what they want. She taught me to play by
the rules in my own unique way, and that is a lesson that has stuck with me. She also taught me that having your own style is extremely important, despite what anyone tells you might be right or wrong. Paris Junior College has an excellent art program.
It was in the Paris Junior College theatre program that I learned to talk in front of others. Believe it or not, I was terribly shy for years. In high school, the very thought of auditioning filled me with so much fear that I would fake sick to get out of them. Instructor Alex Peevy was a tremendous help to me. His method of teaching was comforting and kind, yet challenging, and I looked forward to the feedback that I would receive from him. It was always straight-forward and realistic, never sugar-coated. It was in the theatre classes at PJC that I got to practice my craft and ultimately get over those jitters. I owe so much to that program.
InParisTexas: What things did you enjoy doing in your past time while living in Paris?
TiaBallard: Definitely having cook-outs with my family! My Granny has lived in the same house in Paris for more than thirty years. From time to time we all get together as a family to play volleyball and eat. My Granny should sell her pecan pies. We’d be rich!!
InParisTexas: Would you ever consider moving back in the future?
TiaBallard: I would, as long as Paris sticks to its roots! I love the small-town feel that Paris has, especially at the town square. I love feeling like I’m walking into the 1940′s, with big band music drifting overhead. The feeling of Main Street, U.S.A. is something that I really enjoy. Paris isn’t a huge place like Dallas and should never pretend that it is. It’s a cozy size with a familiar flair, and no-one should ever want to change that.
InParisTexas: How did you get your start in the voice acting business and what was your first role?
TiaBallard: When people tell you that connections are important, you should LISTEN! Once upon a time I worked for the Walt Disney Company. There I got to see people doing exactly what they wanted with their lives, not caring what anyone thought about them. When I got back to Paris I enrolled in PJC to become a theatre major because I wanted to do voices. It was a bit odd considering the lack of voice over programs in schools, but by focusing on my goal and mentioning it to everyone I could, I finally found someone who could help me. By word of mouth and the help from some very patient and loving people, I managed to get myself an audition with FUNimation Entertainment in Dallas. The rest is history!
My first role was Young Asim from the show Dragonaut: The Resonance–a little boy who I think whimpered just once in the entire show. My first larger role was the part of Rachel Calvin in the anime Linebarrels of Iron–a blonde, high-pitched, science dweeb. My knees were banging together in nervous fright during every session, but I was directed by one of my voice acting inspirations who turned out to be a great friend.
InParisTexas: Do you find yourself recognized a lot?
Tia Ballard: Ha ha! Well, the benefit of being in cartoons and video games is that you have the ability to camouflage with your surroundings! Anime is a niche market in itself. Put that on top of never seeing the lovely face behind the voice and people don’t generally jump out of the bushes to tackle you. Over time, however, you find yourself recognized. At conventions, for instance, I’ve been recognized. I also love when people listen to a cartoon and identify that it’s me! (I also love when they don’t, because it means I’m keeping my voices fresh.)
InParisTexas: Did you ever find an anime/manga following in Paris?
TiaBallard: In all truth I’ve never looked! I know for sure that they’re out there, though. Anime fans are always around somewhere, hiding in the shadows like ninjas. In Paris they’re probably lurking in Hastings.
InParisTexas: What do you aspire for in the future career wise?
TiaBallard: I love cartoons and videos games. In some form or another they have always been a part of my life and will continue to be so. Recently I’ve been branching into writing as well as voice acting. I am very passionate about characters being treated not as simple cartoon characters, but living, breathing personalities.
I want to continue acting and writing, but also give an ear to teens who are struggling to find a place in the big world. There are so many people out there who think they can’t do the things they want to do, or become the people they want to become, because someone doesn’t agree with it. My beliefs and morals do not budge for anyone. Whatever I do with my life career-wise, I want it to be an example. I don’t want my work to say “Look what I can do.” I want it to say “Look what YOU can do.”
InParisTexas: What has been your most favorite role so far?
TiaBallard: I have so many!! Fortunately my voice has lent itself to some hilarious and zany characters. One of my favorite roles is probably one of the smallest. On the show Sgt. Frog there is a blonde-haired, blue-eyed country girl by the name of Melody Honey that I play. When I voiced her I felt like I was playing myself in cartoon form, so that was fun!
Another is Priscilla from the video game Monster Tale. That was the first game I was in which was released on a Nintendo gaming system. I grew up playing Super Mario, so that was a pretty cool feeling!
InParisTexas: Lastly, is there anything you’d like to tell the people of Paris, Texas?
TiaBallard: Don’t stick to the rules; don’t let anybody tell you that you’re wrong for loving the things you do. God put those interests in your heart for a reason!
Love yourself, forgive those who have hurt you, and walk with that God-given Texan grace.
I also want to remind the ladies that NO, not everyone is getting married and having babies at twenty years old! Don’t rush so much or you might miss out on making other big contributions to the world.
We would like to thank Tia Ballard for taking time for an interview with us, and we wish her all the luck in the world. We would also like to welcome Nakay Bullock as our newest writer!