Interview With Stephanie Arata (3/16/2024)

You recently heard Stephanie Arata in the hit game Arzette and The Jewel of Faramore, as the leading villain, Daimur! You also may have heard her in the modern yuri classic Heart of the Woods. We sat down with Stephanie to talk about her role in Arzette, and her inspiring career in general!

Thanks for taking some time to answer some questions, Ms. Arata! Before we get into your role in Arzette, could you give us a little self-introduction in your own words?

Meowdy! I’ve been voice acting here and there since 2017 or so, and I also dabble in visual novel development: I wrote and produced Incompatible Species, and have another VN on the horizon by the name of Soul Restruct, which I’m excited to be working on!!

Your breakout role was Heart of the Woods, as Tara Bryck. That was in 2019, nearly five years ago! How do you look back on Heart, and Tara, lately?

I don’t think I have enough room to go into what Tara still means to me, honestly. I first played the game a few days after it came out, prior to the voice acting being added in later. A friend at the time reblogged a post on Tumblr about the game and its selling points and I was gradually sold on it, its last point being Tara. I was literally feeling kinda eh and down on myself out the time, but somehow seeing that goofy dork’s beaming face got my butt right out of bed and reading all the way through Heart of the Woods in one sitting…! While her attitude is… infectious, to say the least, she was a character I felt very… I dunno, seen through more than any other? Even now, five years after the fact, I still think of her super fondly and I continue to look at the impacts she’d had on me.

Onto Arzette now. In the game, you play the main villain Daimur, as well as a quest character, Francine. Did you audition for these characters specifically, and what was that like?

Not every character in Arzette was on the audition sides I received, Francine being one of them. Naturally, Daimur was, and honestly I was erring on the side of not putting in something for him on account of being out of my typical range. But honestly it was hard to resist putting myself in as much as possible for that casting call–being a part of a game inspired by the CD-i Zelda titles was just too good to pass up. A lot of the cast of Arzette has a lot of clear inspirations from both those games and other offbeat Nintendo-related properties from the era, including Beeves’s clear nod in design to King Koopa from the various Mario cartoons of the late 80’s-early 90’s. Aside from the notes provided for each character, I pulled directly from some of the clearer inspirations, naturally including the infamous CD-i Ganon. Not just as far as tone of voice naturally, but hearing the particular diction in their manner of speaking from all my years of enjoying YouTube Poop (and, longer ago, dabbling in making it) influenced that. For Daimur, part of me wanted to draw from Paul St. Peter’s performance as CherubimonCherubimon is one of the villains in the 2000 hit film Digimon: The Movie , but I don’t think that’s something I could maintain…

Daimur, in appearance, definitely takes after the CD-i Ganon featured in Link – The Faces Of Evil. Was there anything about that “original” Ganon that inspired your performance as Daimur? And were you a fan of “YouTube Poop” by any chance?

Slightly touched upon this in my previous answer, but I really wanted to do my best to get close as I can to that growl he has, along with the particularly way he emphasizes certain words.

Francene, in the game, literally just needs some salt to cook some fish. The world of Arzette has a lot of more “whacked-out” characters. Any amusing comments about her role, and the world of the game?

While I was formally cast as Daimur at first they tossed me her as an extra right after recording for him. I was honestly a little winded from putting my whole butt into voicing Daimur, but I think my voice was in exactly the right place to voice Francine, following that up–“chain smoker” type of voice they said for her, if I recall right LOL. I wasn’t sure how it’d sound, but listening back to it in game I had a better performance than I thought I had at the time. Much like Daimur, in that moment I thought back to the way a lot of the odd characters you help out in the CD-i games and let that influence my reads. It was a lot of fun!

Indeed. You’re in a game with a pretty interesting cast as far as the world of YouTube and video games are concerned. Vinny Vinesauce and ModernVintageGamer play characters, and Jeffery Rath from Faces of Evil returns. The game was produced by Audi Sorlie of DigitalFoundry fame. What does it mean to you to be featured in Arzette as a performer alongside names like that?

Honestly I’m still kind of flummoxed. I took a little break at some point during my first playthrough, and sometime after I saw a clip of Frich (whom I’d already encountered in the game) saying that it was Vinny Vinesauce and I was just. ???? I’m in a game with Vinny Vinesauce’s voice?? What the It’s a pretty good reminder that ultimately we’re all just some blokes.

Do you have a favorite character, or moment, in Arzette?

Very difficult question… if I’m completely honest, I was grinning ear-to-ear for a great chunk of the game! I can definitely say some of my favorite characters (Arzette herself aside) are prrrobably Fleetus, Zazie, and Univor. I love basically all of them though so that’s a very flimsy ranking…

You’re a transgender voice actress. Has being trans and gay had a role in your career choice and acting?

Tara aside, I’ve had the opportunity to voice a couple other trans feminine characters! Not that that’s not a range I try to (and would like to) go past! I definitely wanna voice some spunky hero types but I think that’s a tough field to break into… especially with unconscious biases regarding marginalized folk, I suppose.

Is there anything you’d like to say to any aspiring voice actors or queer folk out there?

We’re going to make it, no matter what. No matter how hard it is, no matter how much it hurts.

Beautiful. What’s next for Stephanie Arata?

Thank you, James! Like I said, Soul Restruct is my big focus for now, and you can get a little taste of it from the page (please give it a follow!). I’m making a lot of big progress in tweaking some things and having a lot of fun ideas with how I want to present some parts of the story. I’m blessed to be working with a bunch of talented folks on this project that are also into it! You might notice that Syon, who also worked on Arzette and HotW as voiceover director, is working with me here, too! He’s been a pleasure to work with as both a voice talent and a project lead, can’t recommend the guy enough. Soul Restruct aside, I’ve been wanting to pick up music composition and possibly digital art. Definitely want to dink around with vocal synths like Kasane Teto.

Thank you so much for lending your time, Stephanie! Godspeed on everything! If you enjoyed this interview and would like to see more, definitely let me know in the Guestbook or on social media. Your feedback and sharing of posts like this are greatly appreciated!

See you next time!

- James