On Saturday, Rogues Portal got the opportunity to talk to actress Kristin Kreuk about her latest project, Shuyan SAGA, which is an interesting mix of video games and graphic novels. Shuyan SAGA is an interactive graphic novel where “action scenes come alive through 3D combat gameplay”.
Kreuk takes on the role of the title character, Shuyan, who is “a carefree Princess fed-up with her constricted and pampered life — to become a true disciple of Kung-Fu and stop the evil Guer horde from destroying the Five Kingdoms.”
The game is set in an ancient Chinese martial arts fantasy and players are able to play as Shuyan. Before we hop into the interview, I just want to mention another quick point. This game features over 1,400 hand-drawn illustrations by comic artist Daxiong, whose work you may know from various Star Wars comics and more — so what I’m trying to say is that this game looks incredible.
Let’s jump into our conversation with Kristin…
You’ve done a lot of heroic roles in your career so far – what pulls you towards those roles?
Kristin Kreuk: I think that my answer for that – because I’m actually I’m drawn to people overcoming their personal issues for a greater good. I’m a sucker for that kind of storytelling, especially when it comes to things presented to younger people. I think we live in a very cynical time – which is fine – and I think it’s important to take in as much data as possible but I think we also need those stories where it’s like, “Oh yes, I can do something meaningful in my community and there are things that are limiting me from doing that but I have the power to overcome that.” And even beyond communities, even in your own life to find joy, happiness and peace.
Those are little internal demons that one must wrestle and you can – you have the power to do that and I think all these characters represent that kind of journey and struggle through something much bigger. Generally someone is dying – sometimes there’s a demon, and there’s something really pushing you.
Fantasy stuff is great because it’s a metaphor for those little struggles in our lives which are everything to us.
Over the years there has been a huge lack of fully-developed female characters in both video games and comic books. Your character tackles both industries – was this something that you took into consideration when coming onto this project and what other things do you take into consideration when choosing a role?
KK: I think I’m getting smarter about that as I get older and yes, with this game in particular, that was a huge part of it for me. This is a woman, she is complex, she is flawed, she has issues and she is overcoming them even though it is not easy for her and it’s a struggle. It’s centered around her and it’s not about a love relationship – she’s not tied to some dude. She has a master and a teacher who just happens to be male but it’s not about that. She has her own drive and motivation.
It’s about family and community and I really like that cause I find that a lot of the female driven stuff is linked to a male love interest who moves that character through their journey and I am really struggling to find things that aren’t doing that.
Thankfully it’s becoming a thing that people are recognizing…
KK: Everyone is fighting for that to change. We don’t want that anymore – it’s unacceptable.
I think we’ll see that change happen as more women come on board as writers and directors.
KK: There are a lot of women involved in this project and it’s wonderful.
Is voice acting something that you have always been interested in? Has it been a difficult change from what you’ve done in the past – or is it a matter of just waiting for the right project to come along?
KK: It isn’t something that I have always been interested in. I’ve auditioned for a few things here and there in the past but this is the first thing that I have ever done in this realm. I loved it and it was really fun but it’s definitely a hard, specific job to do well and to do right. I respect anyone who does this as their career – it’s an amazing profession.
How long do you think that it will take for change to happen in the industry to inspire more girls and more women?
KK: I don’t know how long it will take but I do feel like the more that we all push for it and inspire young teenagers to move into developing, storytelling, directing, and producing – whatever it is – the faster it is going to change. We have to keep putting pressure on people and that’s important – it is making a difference. We’re seeing things like Wonder Woman kick ass, right? It killed at the box office in a season where movies didn’t do well. That’s something we have to hold onto – it happened because people pushed for it. I think we keep doing that, it can change more quickly.
I didn’t do TV pilot season last year but from what I understand, they wanted female leads and they wanted diversity. If you were a white guy, there just wasn’t as much for you which is good for us.
What has been your experience as an Asian actress coming up in the industry and what is your take on it currently?
KK: Let me talk about the personal first: I started a long time ago and for my first job I played a half-Asian girl which is my heritage. It didn’t happen again until, I guess, Street Fighter I played my heritage and then every other after role – I often play white characters because I have light eyes and my natural hair is quite light. Because I never challenged them in the way that I looked, it didn’t come up as an issue for me so personally I don’t think I felt the limitation for my career but I believe there is a strong issue. I have friends who are full Chinese who have really struggled to get their careers off the ground because there just isn’t the roles available. If I’m looking for, in Canada, a Chinese actress to play my mom – they’re hard to find. I just don’t think that there have been the opportunities there and available for people.
I think that is changing and obviously people like Constance Wu and those guys are really shifting the narrative on that. If even if we’re talking Indian, Aziz Ansari, I think what they’re doing is really important.
In Canada, it’s still a big issue – apart from Kim’s Convenience on CBC, I don’t think we have a lot available. Stuff like this helps and for me now – I won’t play outside of being mixed race even though I do have the opportunity to do it.
Outside of the comic book universe, what is a character that inspires you?
KK: I’m really bad at these questions but the first person that came to my head might be a little pathetic, but outside of the comic realm – because I’m not a comics person necessarily – growing up, it was always like Anne of Green Gables and I know that’s really old and like, I don’t know but she was a fierce, passionate young girl in a world where you were supposed to be a specific way and she just wasn’t that way. She just embraced it and was her weird self in the midst of all that and I really do appreciate that in people.
What was one of your favourite moments working on the game?
KK: It’s funny because everything is just done in a booth but I just liked being in there with all these people who have been doing this forever and making a fool of yourself. Cause that’s what you do, I feel like every day, when you’re voice acting is just do stuff that you just do stuff that you feel completely ridiculous doing like yell absurdly loud – it feels ridiculous – and doing all of your efforts which also is silly. I like being humiliated in that sense [laughs]. Weird answer, but yeah! It’s fine! [laughs]
Kristin Kreuk was an absolute delight to talk to as was the entire creative team for Shuyan Saga. The game is available on Steam and if you want more of my talk with Kristin, subscribe to our Patreon where you can hear the full audio interview that this was transcribed from.