We caught up with voice actress Kimberly Brooks, most notable as the voice behind Mass Effect’s Ashely Williams, at this year’s MCM Expo to talk about her thoughts on Mass Effect 3’s ending, the fans reaction to her video game roles and what’s coming up next.
– So are you a gamer yourself – have you played the games?
“Honestly? Not really. Just because I am too busy.”
– How did you prepare for the role of Ashley?
“On the first game, we had a great director that I’d worked with before. She helped me tap into the character – what Ashley’s about. She’s a woman, but she’s a soldier. Really religious and has strong family ties to the military.”
– Ashley didn’t have much of a role in the second game but after it came out, you released a recording of the letter Ashley sent to Commander Shepard. What was the fan reaction like?
“It was kind of exciting. The anticipation of the game coming out, and what’s going to happen, what direction… it was really well-received. People were sending me requests of how they wanted the storyline to go – “Can you just mention to Bioware that Ashley should do this or that…”. Yeah, I’ve got a lot of pull there – they’re going to listen to me! [Laughs]”
– How much dialogue did you have to record for the third game?
“We had quite a few sessions. You record by yourself in these four-hour sessions. I think I had ten plus sessions, so that’s a lot of hours. It’s a big game with lots of possibilities.”
– What did you think about the ending?
“Well, like I said I don’t really play the games as much as I should. And the thing is, up until then I just got cocky, everyone loved the game, everyone either loved or hated Ash, and then the third game came out… The response was not good. Maybe it was too much of a realistic ending? It’s like the Sopranos, Six Feet Under… you know the main character is going to die.”
– Have you received any backlash?
“Yeah, actually. In the second game, they were like “why isn’t she in the game?”. If I had anything to do with it, she’d be in that game a hell of a lot more! I think people were disappointed, and I think they were looking for more. I think they’re doing more downloadable content. I’ve been in and recorded some dialogue, and I actually have another session on Thursday… The sessions I’ve had so far have been really simple, and Bioware’s not changing the ending, but it’s explaining and justifying it more.”
– Do you think that’s a bit of a dangerous precedent?
“Well, I was surprised. Maybe because the response was so overwhelming. Artistically you’ve just got to go with whatever your vision is, no matter what the response is.”
– They’ve already confirmed that we will see more of the Mass Effect universe, do you think that Ashley will have any part to play in it?
“I would love it. I mention it at every session – “Just in case, you guys. I’m available!” Ashley would love to be there, she’s dedicated to the cause. I have no idea, obviously I would love it, but they don’t tell us lowly actors anything.”
– What’s next for you?
“I did do some work on Aliens: Colonial Marines. I am working on a cartoon for Nickelodeon called Wings. I don’t know if you guys have that over here. I did Batman. It’s coming out for the Wii U in the future, so I just did something for that. I also have a role in Harley Quinn’s Revenge.”
– Would you say you love voice acting for video games more than TV?
“Definitely not. It’s a lot more labour intensive. It’s the most labour intensive, it pays the least. The only good thing about it, and the best thing about it is the fans. They’re way more passionate, totally into it, totally supportive, they know what you’re into, they care.
“If I told you how much I do, how much I work, how much major network television I do – I’m on the air every night! No one cares. Mass Effect? They’re here, they love it. It struck a chord. I’m totally grateful, but for me, and as far as the industry goes? It’s vocally stressful, labour intensive and you don’t receive any residuals.”
Kimberly, thanks for your time!
You can read an interview with Kaidan Alenko’s voice actor, Raphael Sbarge, and his thoughts about Mass Effect’s controversial ending and gay relationships.