The Story of Briana White, the New Voice of Aerith in Final Fantasy VII Remake. Part One.
In this four-part interview, content creator and new voice actress Briana White talks about taking on the role of Aerith, how she overcomes pressure and doubt stemming from her inexperience and how Aerith and Final Fantasy fans inspire her.
When you think about moments that change your life, the lead up is important. In fact, for Briana White, the lead up is what makes her moment even more extraordinary.
Yes, when you’re cast as Aerith Gainsborough in Final Fantasy VII Remake, things like legacy, grandeur and nostalgia inevitably enter the conversation, and she knows that. Still, for her, the significance of earning this role is much more personal and its meaning established long before she even auditioned.
“You know, in this industry, they tell you how hard it is every second of every day,” Briana says. “I grew up wanting to be an actor, and every time I would tell an aunt or a teacher or a director I want to be an actor, they’d go, ‘Well, you know how hard it is. The chances are you’re not going to make it, so have a backup plan.’”
As she learned, becoming Aerith wouldn’t be without cold reminders of what those voices had been telling her for as long as she could remember. As someone with no experience in voice acting and no industry clout supporting her selection, the wait following her audition was deafening, leaving her expectations all but tempered. “I thought I had such low chances of booking it that I had put it aside and said to myself that it’s probably not going to happen.”
Fast forward to the moment.
It’s a good day, but nothing out of the ordinary. It’s still early. Briana is checking things off her to-do list and had just let the dog outside. As a dedicated content creator, she checks her socials. Everyday stuff made even more commonplace by the amount of time that had passed by. The thought of Aerith hadn’t even crossed her mind that day. Then, it happens.
“I got an email and I started reading it,” she describes. “And I’m a really quick reader, so I had probably already gotten most of the way through the email before it hit me what I was actually reading.”
She did it. She was Aerith.
From just letting her dog out and not even considering what could be, to, in a single unexpected moment, seizing her spot in gaming history as one of the most iconic characters ever created. This was Briana’s reality. This was her life now. And she felt this moment with galactic levels of amazement.
“I definitely lost my breath for a good minute once I realized,” she recalls. But instead of reaching for a word to describe her collective flood of emotion and the crashing of her senses, she makes up one. A once-in-a-lifetime word to describe a once-in-a-lifetime moment. “Cosmolecky is pretty much how I felt. Definition. Meaning — a combination of shock and awe of all of the things in the universe that had to align for this moment to be the reality that I’m living right now.”
Suddenly, the doubters and unhelpfully pragmatic aren’t so loud to her. The career path she chose was correct. She was right and they weren’t.
“I’ve been told my whole life, I can’t. And so, being able to be a part of Final Fantasy VII Remake is really validating. It gives me extra faith, going forward in other projects, to not let go of this industry and to not worry about having a backup plan and to just dive in headfirst.”
So that’s how it started — with an actress who never expected to get this far and had been told time and again that her dreams weren’t realistic. Who, regardless of her effort, thought the weight of her inexperience would stop her from crossing the finish line. She defied the odds and achieved the seemingly impossible.
While things don’t necessarily get easier for her from this point on, how she got here is a testament to how she handles what comes next. As a new voice actress playing one of the biggest characters in one of the biggest franchises, Briana does what she always has: She just keeps going.
Briana White is the new Aerith. This is her story.
You can follow Briana White on Twitter and Instagram. You can also check out her gaming content as TheStrangeRebel on Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. And don’t miss her playthrough of the original Final Fantasy VII that’s streamed live on Twitch.
Jeff de Leon is a professional copywriter by day and gaming storyteller by night. You can follow him on Twitter.