Supanova 2012 – Our interview with Jennifer Hale

jenniferhalesupanovaRecently at Supanova, our resident Sydneysider staffmember Rebecca had the pleasure of interviewing Jennifer Hale, one of the most well known and well-respected voice over artists working in the video game industry. Jennifer has voiced countless iconic characters, making appearances in dozens of triple A title releases. From talking voice over acting to her take on what Commander Shepard’s choice of drink would be, Jennifer shares her insights into the video game voiceover industry in our exclusive interview. Read on for the full transcript and audio.

The audio interview can be found here. Below is the full transcript.

How did you get into voice acting?
I went to a Fine Arts high school in Maryland. I was a theatre major and then I started singing in a rockband. I was in grade ten and that was what I thought I wanted to do, but then I got a job at a video production house which was right next door to an audio studio and they used to have me come over because I could speak without the American Southern accent and do commercials, and I was just blown away that someone would pay me thirty dollars to just come in and do a commercial. So I really studied hard and made the guys teach me how to do it well and used to go door to door to advertising agencies with my little demo tape to try and get work and just kind of tried to build my business from there and I went to Atlanta which was the nearest sort of big film centre and got my first role in film and fell back in love with acting and then that prompted me to move to LA.

What is it about voice over work that appeals to you?
You can be anything. You can be more than one thing and sort of all bets are off. It’s all up to your imagination and the creativity of everybody involved and I do enjoy a little bit of the anonymity. Like, if I had done this much on camera work as I’ve had voice acting I couldn’t go anywhere without being stopped to have a chat. I’m so appreciative of everybody but I also just like to be in my own bubble sometimes, you know?

Do you have a favourite character that you’ve voiced?
No, I don’t. I love them all. My favourite character is my next one, no. I feel really privileged to have done the ones that I’ve done especially, I’ve really enjoyed the Mass Effect series because I felt like my acting got to grow over the years with that to a level that I’ve really enjoyed and I’ve felt like we as a team all grew in a phenomenal way together. I love doing Cinderella because she’s such an iconic character. I love the crazy over the top stuff like Codename Kids Next Door and Powerpuff Girls and the Adventures of Billy and Mandy. I love all the wacky stuff. I also love the super, super – what I call close to the hip. You know, very, very sort of real and true acting. I love that and games that used to have you push it just a little bit because the visuals usually weren’t catching up but now that the visuals are catching up I can really drop into a form of acting that I really love. Just as honest and true as I can possibly get it.

How does it feel hearing your voice back?
It used to bug me. I’m sure you know. It used to bug me but then I got over it and now I just listen to the acting and that drives me crazy because I’m always listening for any detail that I might have missed.

How are you feeling about the ending of the Mass Effect trilogy? Are you sad about it?
I was. I was totally sad to see it go. It was really sad to see the trilogy end but you never know, I have no idea if anything else is down the pipe with that. I don’t know but I’m also on some great stuff right now that’s really phenomenal. I do feel like Shepard will always live in a definite, very important part of me.

I just couldn’t imagine another voice for Shepard. It wouldn’t be the same
I know, I know. It’s going to kill me if they do a live action because it’s not going to be me.

So, Mass Effect features branches of decision making involving multiple line reads with different motives. Was that hard?
No. It’s sometimes tricky to keep track of. Like, where am I in the timeline of the story itself, where am I in the timeline of the scene, am I renegade, paragon or default? What am I in that? But if I stay true to Shepard in my heart and ask any questions to the director, we get it done.

Do you have a favourite line that you’ve delivered for Mass Effect?
Yeah. “Tell your friends we’re coming for them.” That’s my favourite line.

At Save Game, who I’m representing today we actually made cocktails for each squad mate. Would you like to have a look?
Let’s see it! Let’s see it! [reads] Oh my gosh! Full Biotic Kick [laughs] Oh, I love ginger beer! That’s mine. The Chief! Ashley Williams. Let’s see what’s Ashley’s…Oh, I’ve got to send this to them, they’re gonna die! I love that, the Heatsink for Garrus, that’s fantastic. Tali Kee’lah Se’Lemonade. That is great. Oh! The Wrex – the Quadkicker. I love the names. “Hit you like a Krogan charge” and ginger ale. I love that you guys like ginger ale and ginger beer. That’s brilliant. Bailey’s? Perfect!

What would you want Shepard’s drink to be?
Oh, gosh. I don’t drink that much because physically my body just doesn’t do that well with it. I get sleepy but…..your favourite whiskey, neat.

So, what’s next for you?
Diablo III has come out, Guild Wars 2 is coming. I’m working on The Avengers and the Green Lantern. I’m Miss Marvel and Carol Farris on Green Lantern as well. Working on a show called Totally Spies. And working on a show called…I can’t say that one. I’m working on two animated series right now I can discuss – they’re under wraps and three games I can’t talk about, but they’re really cool.

Sounds like you’re really busy. Are you usually like that?
Yeah, yeah. I try to keep it like that as much as I can. It’s important to work.

Do you have any tips for people wanting to break into the voice acting industry?
I guess what I would say is acting is primary. It is not all about you. Make yourself a part of the solution, not the problem. Recognise that producers and directors have a workload that is fifteen times your workload and behave accordingly.

Do you have any other stories you’d like to tell us?
I’d just like to thank everybody. I want to say thank you so much to you and to the site and to all the fans, because without you, I wouldn’t be here. You guys are just all so committed. It’s beautiful.

I saw the Garrus and the Femshep come out to meet you earlier, how was that?
It was fantastic. People do such unbelievable work on the cosplay, it’s incredible. It’s just absolutely incredible.

Do you get a lot of fan art and gifts from fans?
I do. I’ve gotten some amazing things today there was Darth Sully today inducted me in to the local Star Wars chapter. He gave me some awesome stuff, it was so cool like badges and coin and all that stuff.

Are you a big Star Wars fan?
I just love being a part of that universe. It’s great. It’s a great honour. So thanks to you and thanks to everybody.

Editor’s Note: We would like to thank Jennifer Hale for sitting down with us and answering our questions – it’s such an honour to be able to speak with someone so amazingly versatile and talented. Jennifer has brought many of our favourite video game characters to life with her captivating voicework, and we feel blessed to have had the opportunity to sit down with her. Thank you, Jennifer!

About the Author: Founder & Editor-in-Chief

Tash is a self-diagnosed gaming fanatic with a doctorate in Psychology. She's also a self-confessed Mass Effect fangirl and will likely talk your ears off if you ever get her started on the subject. A lover of all things RPG and adventure, she has more gamer related action figures and memorabilia than any 30 something year old professional has a right to own, and has spent more time than she’d like to admit to daydreaming about exactly what she would do should the Zombie Apocalypse actually happen.

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