NüVoices Podcast #77: Voice Actress Nancy Wu on Diversity in Audiobooks

Photograph of Nancy Wu, outside a temple in Bangkok

Nancy Wu, a masterful voice actress and audiobook narrator, joins the NüVoices podcast this week to talk about her storied career.

She has narrated the “Avatar the Last Airbender” prequels by F.C. Yee and Michael Dante Di Martino, the “X-Men Mutant Empire” series for Marvel, and books by Amy Tan, Cixin Liu, Ken Liu and Sayaka Murata. You may also recognize Nancy’s voice in the audiobook for China Unbound, written by NüVoices board member Joanna Chiu!

In this episode, Joanna and Nancy discuss the importance of diversity in the audiobook industry, preparing for a studio session, navigating accents, pronunciation (especially nailing those Mando/Canto tones), cultural sensitivity, and more. Nancy also discusses the challenges of being pigeonholed as a “Chinese audiobook narrator” and how BIPOC voice actors should be given stories that encompass more than just their ethnicities.

You can see all of Nancy’s narrated audiobooks here.

Show notes:

Nancy Wu’s official website

Nancy Wu’s audiobooks on Audible

Chinese pronunciation online resources: Forvo, Youglish, MDBG Chinese Dictionary and Learn Cantonese Tools 

I Hotel by Karen Tei Yamashita 

Avatar: the Rise of Kyoshi by F.C. Lee

Number One Chinese Restaurant by Lillian Li 

Made in China by Amelia Pang 

To Hold Up the Sky by Cixin Liu  


Nancy: Dion Graham’s audiobooks, January LaVoy’s audiobooks, China’s Leaders: From Mao to Now by David Shambaugh, and The Subplot: What China Is Reading and Why It Matters by Megan Walsh

Joanna: Joanna recommends ALL of Nancy’s audiobooks and Te-Ping Chen’s Land of Big Numbers audiobook. (Click here for the NüVoices podcast episode with Te-Ping).

Self-care tips:

Nancy: Yoga and meditation. She recommends the Timeless Meditation app, which she created with her partner.

Joanna: Going out in nature and foraging for mushrooms.

Nancy’s Supplemental Audiobook Recommendations:

Last Boat out of Shanghai by Helen Zia

Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata

Peasprout Chen: Future Legend of Sword & Skate by Henry Lien

Selected Poems of AiQing by AiQing translated by Robert Dorsett

Swimming Back to Trout River by Linda Rui Feng

The Majesties by Tiffany Tsao

Warcross by Marie Lu

Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh

Magruders Curiosity Cabinet by HP Wood

Dictionary of Mutual Understanding by Jackie Copleton

The Outside by Ada Hoffman

Gods, Monsters & the Lucky Peach by Kelly Robson

Winter Pasture by Li Juan

Second Sister by Chan Ho-Kei

Saving Fable, Talespinner Series by Scott Reintgen