Katou Emiri was doing design at a Tokyo high school, but was coming to realize that she wasn't as talented as the people around her. Then a classmate suggested she come along to see a seiyuu school: the classmate was Kano Yui (left, with Emirin).
Emirin was asked in an interview if there was any seiyuu she admired as a kid. She said no, that she had no idea of becoming a seiyuu, she just went on the visit to see what being a seiyuu was like, and decided it seemed okay.
Last year, Yui won one of the "best new seiyuu" awards at the Seiyuu Awards, for her comic excesses as Momoko in Sumomo mo Momo mo. This year Emirin did, for her work as Kagami in Lucky Star. What a difference a few years can make.
Yui and Emirin both studied voice work at the Amusement Media Academy. But Yui went on to join the Aoni Pro agency, while Emirin is with 81 Produce. They are both 24, and both did their first anime work in 2004.
Here are some more photos. Left, Emirin (centre) with Fukuhara Kaori (left) and Endou Aya, from Lucky Star. Centre, Kano Yui. Right, Yui and Emirin's high school classmates, at a recent get-together. (Yui couldn't make it because of work.) (click photos to enlarge)
Info from Watch! Seiyuu-san.