Published On: Sun, May 28th, 2017

MegaCon 2017: Mass Effect panel with Ali Hillis and Jennifer Hale

From MegaCon comes an interesting panel for Mass Effect with voice actresses Ali Hillis and Jennifer Hale. Hale voices a soldier named Commander Shepard, whose mission is to save the galaxy from a race of powerful mechanical beings known as the Reapers and their agents, including the first game’s antagonist Saren Arterius. Hillis voices Dr. Liara T’Soni in the Mass Effect trilogy.

Hale began encouraging fans to seek out voice work, noting how she “was shy” and “always had a book.” For these seeking work, she stated that “There are building blocks. First thing is acting and improv class. Singing lessons classical or broadway. Not for singing but range. Learn about money management. If you do a little bit of something every day, you will improve over time.”

“Always pretending,” Hillis said to her ability to learn “voices,” telling that “Coming from a place of acting each character comes from who they are. After school I went to the Theatre. Always there, there are no shortcuts.”

Jennifer Hale’s Shepard

Hale added later during the panel: “…One of the first games I was ever in, Metal gear…The game made $26 million, but as a lead female I only received about $1,200. I understand it was new but now we matter more. With technology we voice actors ARE more of the game. The net worth of the lowest percentage of wealth has not grown since near the 80’s. Yet the top 10 percent and top 4 percent have grown exponentially. They want to keep the money where they are and honestly it’s unfair.”

Both actresses praised the creators, particularly directors Andrea Romano, Jack Fletcher with Hillis elaborating: “Chris Zimmerman, I’m not only learning every time from my directors, but also from my peers. It reminds me that basically everything in my universe has an idea that I can put into my characters.”

Voice work is difficult and both actresses explained how little information they get ahead of time: “You don’t know what your doing until you get there. In games specifically, only about 5% of the time you do know beforehand.”

Ali shared a funny story about working on Final Fantasy: “…
I came in that day and Jack said are you ready for his? He dumped a six inch thick book on my lap said that’s the lore of Final Fantasy…learn it by 5! Thank goodness he was joking, he did sit down with me and went over most all of it.”

Mass Effect is a science fiction action role-playing third-person shooter video game series developed by the Canadian company BioWare.

Mass Effect: Andromeda was released in March. The franchise has spawned a theme park ride, novels and comic books.

Fans asked all sorts of questions:

What did you love as a child?

Jen: Horses and being outside

Ali: Doggies. Playing outside a lot. I grew up a tomboy, then I blossomed…Loved Dukes of Hazzzard and Batman.

Can you sing for us?

Ali. The classics are awesome. Hamilton. My first musical was Annie. That’s what got me into this situation (she sang a bit of “(I Had) The Time of My Life”)

In fiction and literature women aren’t as prevalent as heroes as we want so thank you for bringing those females to life. What is more we can do to help support you ladies to bring more to us.?
Ali.  If you like it let the company know you support us. If the indie game is 5 dollars, spend it. Show them you are enough of a fan to push the company to further heights. Tell the CEOs we matter, it’s better for us.

You mentioned a few times that you use the female commanders voice for your lines to have more realism to them. Did you like using male shepards or female shepards voice more?
Ali. I love Mark please don’t get me wrong but for the more personal scenes, I would use Jen.

Author: Jordan Moss

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