MMA Access: Lenne Hardt ‘The Voice of PRIDE & DREAM’
By Rohit Verma
PDG: First off, I would like to thank you so much for doing the Interview with me. How are you doing?
LH: I am delighted to have been asked and I am doing very well, thank you.
PDG: Can you give us a brief History about yourself?
LH: I am an actress, the youngest of six children and was born in Anchorage Alaska. My father was an air force pilot.
PDG: Why did you decide to work and live in Japan?
LH: My brother has lived here for 30 odd years. He married a fascinating Japanese girl when I was just 8 years old. My brother has always been my mentor and hero and my sister-in-law has become my vision of a gracious and strong woman; so, it was inevitable that I should steer my career to be near them.
PDG: Where in Japan do you live?
LH: Shibuya Ku (Shibuya Ward,) Tokyo.
PDG: The first PRIDE FC show you announced was at the 1st Grand Prix. How did you come to get the job?
LH: My agent at that time was asked to find someone and they recommended me. It was all very last minute. I got the call two days prior. Just plain good luck that my schedule was free that weekend.
PDG: When you joined the promotion did you at first find it squeamish seeing these guys going at it?
LH: I didn’t then. Oddly enough I do now, not so much squeamish but concerned for the fighters, because I know many of them now and care what happens to them.
PDG: Each fighter whose name is announced is very unique and you blend it into their entrance music. Do you rehearse it or does it come naturally as the music is playing?
LH: We do rehearse some, but the rehearsals are mostly for the tech crew and at most I may hear only 4 of the fighters’ themes. Once the show starts I run on instinct. It helps to be a singer and to have had many years’ experience as a DJ. Timing, tempo, intros are familiar to me even if I haven’t heard the song before. That and a god given gift for working off the cuff.
PDG: Some fighters have said in the past they get more pumped for the fight when you call out their name. How do you feel that you have that effect on men? [Laughs]
LH: Hey, I’ve heard that directly from some of those big hulks! That was my turn to get pumped up! Tells me I am doing exactly what I wanted to do for both them and the fans.
PDG: Many people didn’t know who you were and what you looked like. You were nicknamed by the Fans as “PRIDE Crazy Lady”. What is your opinion on that nickname? [Laughs]
LH: Everyone has a different imagination. You simply can’t look like what everyone expects. Who would have thought that Bart Simpson was a 30 something blonde woman and mother of what, two little kids?
PDG: By announcing as energetically as you do, do you fear your voice could be affected?
LH: I trained as a stage actress, for the musical theater and in opera on top of that for years as a character voice actress. I have some techniques in place to preserve my voice. Having said that, I do sometimes get to into what is going on and technique flies out the window leaving me as hoarse as a rock concert fan on the day after.
PDG: Which fighters do you enjoy the most to watch?
LH: All of them. What else can I say?
PDG: What was the most epic fight you witnessed?
LH: That is like saying which sunsets do you like best.
PDG: After Zuffa (UFC) purchased the PRIDE promotion last year there was talks that the show would still run. But after a few months, Staff where relieved of their duties and the doors closed. At that time did you ever think you would be announcing a MMA show again? Did other promotions approach you?
LH: The intention was stated that we would absolutely continue and with the same staff. I was skeptical, actually. If I had been with an outfit that challenged Pride, I would want to get rid of the whole Pride staff. It would be too dangerous to leave that talent out there on the loose.
PDG: DREAM the new promotion formed by K1 and former staff of PFC; How thrilled where you and what was your opinion on the 1st show?
LH: I was naturally pleased and relieved that the talented people who had formed Pride were again able to produce shows for the fans. I thought the first show was very well produced but was sorry for the fans that Shinya Aoki was injured and couldn’t go on.
PDG: Are you reprising your role as the voice actor for Anna Williams in the new Tekken 6 game?
LH: No. It is pretty rare in Japan for a character to be done by only one voice actor. There are innumerable complications that make it nearly impossible… like different casting agents and conflicting schedules.
PDG: Do you have a ritual to get into character when you are doing voice acting?
LH: I envision the character based on the type of language the character uses and what the other characters say about him or her. I may physically impersonate the character a bit in the studio as we record. Other than that it’s gut instinct again.
PDG: What types of characters do you like to perform, Hero or Villain and Why?
LH: Villains are always more interesting when there is only the choice of those two. But my favorite characters are the ones with a bit of both—just like real people!
PDG: Are you approached often by fans for pictures and autographs when you’re doing your grocery shopping?
LH: At the grocery store? Autographs all the time If they have their mobiles on them when perusing frozen foods, then photos too. I am more often approached at parties or events related or not to MMA.
PDG: When you’re not working, what do you like to do in your spare time?
LH: Scuba dive, ski, walk my two dogs, snorkel, read, clean my house, brush my teeth—you know, the usual!
PDG: Do you still have a Jazz Band?
LH: Yes I do. I refer to it as a Jazz Cabaret band. We have a style you might see in a New York cabaret show. It’s a show band. I have two actually, a five piece and a more brass based 10 piece band.
PDG: O.K Lenne I would like to thank you again it’s been an honor to interview you. Would you like to send a message to your fans?
LH: Stay proud and keep Dreaming!
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