Conquering Andromeda, Fryda Wolff
As we always have to go all out, it is no different with Mass Effect Andromeda… and that’s why we bring you the Ryder siblings. Specifically, Ka’alshya brings you an interview with Tom Taylorson, who voices Scott Ryder, one of the main siblings in ME:A, and I bring you Fryda Wolff, also known as the voice of Sara Ryder (the elder sister by two minutes, don’t forget), co-protagonist of BioWare’s new installation of the ME saga that has been released RIGHT NOW (in north america at least). And, why lie, the character with which I’m going to play from now on and for a long time. In addition, you can read the spanish translation of the interview here.
But, while her role in ME:A is very important, Fryda Wolff has been giving voice to numerous video game characters for years. We can hear her in Masquerade: Songs And Shadows, The Park, Octodad: Dadliest Catch, Sid Meier’s Civilization: Beyond Earth, etc.
And, without further ado, I leave you with that you’re waiting for, enjoy!
You’ve been working as a voice actress for over ten years, what motivated you to choose your job?
Voice acting was always lateral to my work as a Sound Designer for games. I was a involved with casting and co-directing for some of the games I was a developer for. The part of sound design I liked best was making the assets and fulfilling the artistic visions of the team. As a voice actor, my only job is to make the assets with my emotions, then leave. I’m not responsible for editing or implementation. So I get to do my favorite part of the job and none of the tedious work that follows.
I think people doesn’t know if there is some specific studies to be a voice actress, could you tell us how was your path to be a professional?
I got to watch voice actors working up close when I was a Sound Designer, but it’s nothing like being in the booth myself. I spent 4 years taking classes in Los Angeles casually, as a hobby, thinking it would help me better understand what I was asking voice actors to do. While voice acting classes help teach protocol and job etiquette, what you really need to practice is being an actor. I took improv classes and being able to think on my feet and react with my gut instinct is the skill that most helps me give an honest voice over performance.
How’s your work as a voice actress? It’s a hard job? I mean, I’m sure you spend a lot of time inside the recording studio; about how many hours do you spend each day of recording?
Typically a session can last up to 4 hours, because after 4 hours the client must pay overtime and the actor is tired and sounds tired anyway. It is not uncommon for an actor to have a 4 hour session in the morning, a one hour break, and then another 4 hour session to end the day.
Voice acting is extremely exhausting, because all of the emotions have to be real. Of course it’s physically exhausting because I’m standing (to maximize my breath), and have to maintain the quality of my voice somehow, regardless of strenuous effort emotes like pain and dying, for example. On top of this, my brain is having real experiences in imaginary circumstances all day. 8 hours of pretending non-stop sucks the life out of an actor
After the work day is finished, I still have to go home and record whatever auditions were emailed to me by my agency during the day. The auditions are typically due the next day, so if I don’t do the auditions, no matter how tired I am, I miss out on opportunities for future work. If a voice actor has a busy week they can easily be working 12 hour or longer work days, as keeping up with auditions is part of the job.
I’ve seen you’ve done a lot of voice works, of all of them, do you have a favourite one or do you remember one with affection?
Octodad was a special experience, even more special now since it also starred Tom Taylorson who plays my brother in Andromeda. I’m proud of my work in The Park, it was recorded in one session and is still some of the most emotionally intense work I’ve performed to date.
I’m curious, is there any female character from sci-fi that you like so much? Or any work that serves as reference?
Some of my lady sci-fi heroes from my teen years include Vasquez and Ripley from Aliens, Dizzy from Starship Troopers, Leeloo from The Fifth Element, and Jadzia Dax from Deep Space Nine.
Unfortunately, none of these actors are women of color, not even Vasquez who was performed by a white woman in dark makeup. Hopefully future generations will see more women of color in their fantasy and sci-fi as executives relent and permit casting to be more varied and provide real representation.
How was working with BioWare? Did you notice any difference in the work environment? From the outside it looks like a very nice company with its workers.
I have never visited any BioWare studio, as my job was done entirely from recording studios in Los Angeles. However I will say that BioWare has their process down to a science. Working with them as a voice actor was a total delight.
What do you think about Sara Ryder? We think she’s going to be a powerful female character; is she as strong as she looks? No spoilers, just talking about her like a real person. Without talking about the game, how did you feel being Sara Ryder?
Sara has the burden of being flexible enough to be an everywoman to accommodate players’ wants in terms of guiding her decisions. However, Sara is true to her reality. She is young and inexperienced, but eager to learn and a hard worker. Sara’s vulnerability and adaptability are her strengths.
When the Mass Effect Andromeda trailer came out and we could see Liam’s and Cora’s face, many men (of different ages), began to criticize that BioWare was making ugly female characters, as it happened with Cassandra, PeeBee and Sara. Do you think society is so used to see a kind of feminine beauty, that they get angry when another different feminine beauty appears?
I think some people take personal offense when they don’t find themselves sexually attracted to a fictional character. Some people become angry when they find real people unattractive. Trying to please the lowest common denominator with sex appeal is a goal that diverges from good storytelling.
Have you played the Mass Effect trilogy? Did you like it? Any favourite moment, character or romance?
I’ve played just a few hours of the original series. I’m too impatient, I prefer to spend short bursts murdering lots of things rather than paying attention to a developing story. I am never asked back to a dungeons and dragons group.
I’ve to talk about this: FemShep is a reference for a lot of girls who play Mass Effect (and we aren’t few), because she transmits us her force, and Sara will become soon another important female character for us, for the same reason. Did you play with FemShep? Did she transmit you that sensation? What do you think about FemShep? Are you ready for the fans’ love?
Because Female Shepard was an optional protagonist, she could be dismissed and forgotten entirely if a player chose to play as Male Shepard. Whereas Sara Ryder continues to exist if you choose to play as her brother, Scott. The female protagonist option is not erased from the story, which was a very smart and thoughtful move by BioWare.
BioWare fans are supportive as heck, I’m exceptionally lucky to have fallen into this welcoming fanbase.
PeeBee, Sara and Cora aren’t the classic female character who looks like a supermodel like Miranda, EDI, Quiet, Cortana or Samus Aran in the last videogames; do you think the time has come for female characters to gain strength and avoid thus falling into stereotypes? Or do you think it’s something punctual?
I think judging a woman’s capabilities based on her appearance comes at a loss to the beholder, not the woman.
And finally, is there anything else you want to tell to your fans?
I see you and I’m so happy to share the Andromeda Galaxy with you! Good hunting!
I run on coffee, sarcasm and lipstick. Hace años le vendí mi alma a Bioware y me convirtieron en la Shadow Broker. Tengo un papelito que dice que soy N7, pero no quieren darme mi propia nave. Me gusta llevarle la contraria a la gente y por eso soy una Inquisidora enana y pelirroja.