Arts & Life, Features

The power of the voice

Anime, animation and video games are some of the leading sources of seeking entertainment nowadays. Though they are different platforms, what they all have in common is the voice acting aspect. The voice of an artist can make an impact of various emotions for the audience experience. Recording voiceovers, whether it’s for TV or a video game, voice acting requires skills and use of techniques.

That is what Cristina Valenzuela, also known as Cristina Vee, learned during her time as a student at Long Beach State.

Before voicing some of her known roles including Marinette in “Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir,” Rei Hino in “Sailor Moon,” Killua in “Hunter x Hunter,” Bennett and Xingqui in “Genshin Impact” and hundreds more, Valenzuela was a local girl.

Living close to extended family, she grew up around a tight nit community in Norwalk “near the one ways” and developed a deep love for animation at a young age.

“I really loved Disney,” Valenzuela said. “I memorized the entire script to the ‘Lion King’ and would watch it on mute so I could do all the voices.” This was only the start of her acting career.

Cristina Vee speaking at the 2022 Phoenix Fan Fusion in Phoenix, Arizona.
Cristina Vee speaking at the 2022 Phoenix Fan Fusion in Phoenix, Arizona. Photo credit: Gage Skidmore

Known as the “Sailor Moon girl” in grade school, Valenzuela along with other anime fans at her school started an anime club at John Glenn High School.

“I was friends with the other anime fans, a total of about five people,” she said. “We began the anime club at John Glenn High. Things have changed so much!”

Music was another passion of hers and performing was something Valenzuela anticipated. She was in the Norwalk All City Band throughout middle school and high school.

Valenzuela majored in Theater Arts while at Long Beach State. During her time on campus, she describes her overall experience as a hardship.

“Even though I loved studying theater and performing in shows, college was a really hard time for me,” she said. “Because of depression and panic attacks, there were a couple of years where it was extremely hard for me to go to classes.”

She also mentioned times she has been blatantly stereotyped being a woman of color when she was younger by someone in the industry. Little did they know, she would take over their job years later.

“I kept working hard and it turns out years later I ended up being hired for that person’s position when they were inevitably fired,” Valenzuela said. “You just have to keep positive, keep moving forward and know that things have a way of working out for the best at the end.”

Having an optimistic mindset is how she was able to overcome those obstacles.

Cristina Vee attends a panel at New York Comic Con 2021.
Cristina Vee attends a panel at New York Comic Con 2021. Photo credit: Zimbio

With a packed schedule, it is safe to say that she is “booked and busy.” Traveling to conventions to going to the studio to record, she is always on the go. Sometimes, it is hard for her to practice self-care.

“It’s tough,” Valenzuela said. “I feel blessed, but it can be very hard to carve out time for myself.”

She does find peace in activities like play Pokémon Unite, hanging with her sphynx cats and finding cheugy décor as she says, “to adorn my house with.”

Even with tribulations, Valenzuela was capable of graduating with the support from others. Some of the support she received was from professor Hugh O’Gorman, head of performance in the theater arts department.

“I learned so much under Hugh O’Gorman, and while I didn’t feel like I was an exceptional actor or student during my time at Long Beach State, I still use the skills I learned while I’m performing,” she said.

O’Gorman had many things to say about Valenzuela.

Being her instructor for classes, O’Gorman said he saw talent from Valenzuela from when she was a student.

“She was an excellent student,” he said. “She understood characterization, transformation, and of course has a very unique voice. She was always prepared, excited to work on her feet as an actor, imaginative and willing to take creative risks.”

O’Gorman sounded excited when stating that “her old professor couldn’t be more proud of her” as remark about Valenzuela.

Fans attend panel in which Cristina Vee was a part of.
Fans attend panel in which Cristina Vee was a part of. Photo credit: Zimbio

Others that seem to be proud of Valenzuela are her fans. She touched on a meaningful part of her job which is meeting fans from around the world at many conventions when signing autographs for some of her acting roles. It is like a full circle moment for her because she used to attend conventions like the Anime Expo since she was in 7th grade. Now, Valenzuela is meeting others and she wants to take on that role model responsibility.

“It’s unreal,” she said. “Knowing people look up to me, and it makes me want to be the best role model I can be.”

Fans from all over the world that follow Valenzuela, who has a big fanbase on social media, couldn’t hold back positive remarks about the actress. Christopher Colón, a voice actor from Florida, is one of many in fond of her work.

“Cristina is a fantastic, kind, and incredibly talented person!” he said. “One of my favorite works from her was in ‘Seirei Gensouki’ as Alma because her performance was just phenomenal, and it was the first anime and ADR gig she had booked so seeing them achieving her dream despite all the challenges she had faced was just heartwarming to see.”

Jazmin Gonzalez, a local fan from Los Angeles, developed love for Valenzuela’s voice in anime along with video games.

“Personally, I have found comfort through some of the characters she’s voiced, and it brings me a sense of joy when I’m not feeling my best or want to disconnect from the world,” she said.

Gonzalez plays “Genshin Impact” and enjoys the way Valenzuela brings characters Bennett and Xingqiu to life.

“I love the way she brings the characters to be unique and loving,” she said. Those are just two of thousands of fans that appreciate her voiceover work.

Valenzuela got her first professional audition during high school and worked throughout college at Long Beach State to lead up to where she is now. She wanted to make something clear for students striving to have a career in voice acting and directing.

“Don’t wait for someone to give you permission to act,” she said. “Start now, however you can. Whether it be plays or doing skits on TikTok, start building your skills and making connections.”

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