Interview: Anjali Bhimani Talks Acting, OverwatchMarch 13, 2019
Recently, we had the chance to talk with Anjali Bhimani ahead of her appearance at Toronto Comicon, which is happening March 15th – 17th at the Metro Toronto Convention Center, about her acting career, including her voice acting role as Symmetra on the incredibly popular video game Overwatch.
Did you realize you wanted to get into acting at a young age or did that interest develop over time?
Anjali: Well, if you ask my mom she’ll say, “I always knew she was going to be an actress”, but for me it was an interest that grew over time and I didn’t realize you could be an actress as a job, like that was a viable thing for me, until probably high school. I started doing plays and stuff in school and then in community theaters in junior high and high school but the realization that I could actually do this for the rest of my life, that this could be a viable career, definitely came in high school.
What is it about working in theater that piqued your interest because that can be a frightening experience for an actor?
Anjali: The great thing about theater is I feel it’s the perfect introduction for people to acting because thankfully you don’t need any film, you don’t need any cameras. Most schools have a theater department and put on school plays so for me, that was my first introduction into acting. I absolutely love the energy of being with a live audience, there’s something so beautiful about being in a room with people and sharing that experience with them, being able to take them on a journey while they get to sit in their seats and just enjoy the ride, so I’ve always really enjoyed that. Also, I love the unpredictability of it, because once that train starts it’s got to go, there’s no stopping that train until the curtains come down and that can be very exhilarating.
Do you think every actor should experience working in theater, working without a net so to speak, or is that more of an acquired taste?
Anjali: You know, I think it’s really up to the individual. I used to think oh yes, everyone must do theater but the fact is there are some actors and actresses have skills that are so well suited to the close-up and intimacy of television or film. There are some that are simply much more comfortable behind a microphone doing voice over so I really think it depends on wherever people feel they can shine the most. I do think it’s good to experience it, I just think it’s ridiculous to expect every actor to be good at all things. I think all of us have our one thing, our way into acting and then experiencing a little bit of everything is great because that’s just the fact of life, experiencing a little bit of everything is great. I do think if it wasn’t for theater I wouldn’t have the vocal skills that I have, which has served me well across the board. Theater makes you train the whole acting package, you can’t get away with just one part, and then you get to use whatever particular aspect of your instrument you’re going to need, given the medium.
You’ve done a lot of work on television. Is that your favorite medium to work in or do you enjoy them all for different reasons?
Anjali: I enjoy them all, I enjoy anywhere someone will let me act and tell a good story. I enjoy them all for different reasons because I think each one of them has different strengths in terms of storytelling. For example, for television or film production you can get right up close and personal, there’s an intimacy there, you’re a fly on the wall as an audience member, someone watching, so you get very close in terms of the experience. Theater is a little different because the audience is an active member of the show, they’re with you on this ride, and that’s really exciting as well. I love voice over work because there’s so much freedom, especially in terms of who you can be. I can be a little boy, I can be a dragon, I can be anything so that’s really exciting and fun. There is really something beautiful about every medium that I’ve had the chance to play in, I guess you could say I have a little acting ADD, I don’t really want to stick with one thing at a time. I do have phases but if I’m doing one thing for a long time then I miss the others.
So how do you get involved in voice acting?
Anjali: I wish this was a sexier story but really it was just my agent sending me out on voice over auditions and I started booking them, so it was really just another branch of the acting tree. I’m surprised it didn’t happen sooner because I’ve been acting so long but I used to have the tendency to assume that I needed to ask someone’s permission to try something new. The voice over work only started about three or four years ago and I love it, I absolutely love it.
In terms of the role of Symmetra in Overwatch, did you have any idea, or were you at all prepared, for how popular this game has become?
Anjali: Nope, no idea, I had absolutely no idea. When you go into an audition, especially for a game, they usually don’t tell you what the real name of the project is, so I had no idea what I was auditioning for, I just knew it was going to be by Blizzard. When I got the job I thought ok, it’s by Blizzard and they don’t do anything half-ass so it’s going to be a great gig, but I had no idea until they started introducing it into the world that it was going to be what it was. Even in my first recording session, I got super excited once I found out what it was because I was finally seeing the arc and understanding the world and I thought ok, this is going to be incredibly fun and inspiring to a lot of people. However, as soon as the community took it and ran with it, I don’t think anyone was expecting the kind of popularity it got and still gets to this day.
You are coming to Toronto Comicon March 15th-17th at the Metro Toronto Convention Center. What do you enjoy the most about doing these conventions?
Anjali: Oh, I can’t pick just one thing! (Laughs) The thing that I enjoy the most is meeting everybody. I love hearing their stories, hearing what excites them, it’s wonderful. A lot of times when you’re working as an actor you don’t actually get to meet the people who are consuming whatever you are creating. In this case, we have the incredible joy of getting to talk to people and hear what excites them, hear what stories are connecting with them, hearing what is going on in their lives, I really thrive on that which is why I’m talking the whole time and I’m exhausted by the end. I love the cosplayers and the art, I think the community is so incredibly creative, not just the Overwatch community but the gaming community in general. Panels are always fun as well, I’m always interested in hearing the kind of questions people can come up with.
What other projects do you have coming up?
Anjali: Unfortunately, with the way this industry works, I can’t tell you! However, I can tell you that I’m going to be coming back as a character that I have played before on a television show, so I’m excited about that. I can tell you I’m in an episode of Station 19, that will air in March. Also, until March 31st, our show We’re Alive: Frontier is going to be on www.projectalpha.com but after the 31st Project Alpha is going to be no more so check it out. It’s exciting time right now, I’ll be filming a few things right after Toronto Comicon, so all I can say right now is stay tuned.
I want to thank Anjali for taking the time to talk with us