You may not recognize her face or know her name, but if you’ve enjoyed gaming or pop culture and have been alive in the 2000’s, you’ve almost certainly heard her voice.
Her name is Jennifer Hale, and her list of credits is truly awe-inspiring. In gaming alone, she’s voiced characters in an daunting number of games, perhaps the most impressive of which is voicing the female Commander Shepard (FemShep) in the Mass Effect trilogy. Her other gaming franchise credits include For Honor, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Guild Wars, Halo, Mortal Kombat, Dragon Age, Bioshock, World of Warcraft, DOOM, Diablo, Uncharted, The Last of Us, Gears of War, Metal Gear Solid, and God of War, just to name a few. Her list of television and film credits is just as laudable. Jennifer has voiced characters on Phineas and Ferb, Wreck-It Ralph, The Legend of Korra, Avengers Assemble, The Powderpuff Girls, Guardians of the Galaxy, Regular Show, Batman, X-Men, The Big Bang Theory, Two and a Half Men, and many more.
Jennifer Hale came to Salt Lake Gaming Con where Rectify Gaming was privileged to interview her. What we found was a humble, likeable, enthusiastic woman who loves what she does and the people she works with. While being quick to deflect any praise (including a recent Emmy win!) onto the rest of the teams she worked with, Jennifer came across as down-to-Earth and eager to connect with the fans that have come to love the characters she has brought to life. Our conversation ranged from the importance FemShep Commander Shepard has had to women in gaming, to gaming’s importance in serious media culture discussions, to the fanbases she so clearly loves.
Rectify Gaming (RCG): You were the voice actress for Commander Shepard in Mass Effect, now one of the legends of gaming. How has that role affected you in the past five years?
Jennifer Hale (JH): It’s been an amazing experience. I love being a part of it. I think my favorite thing besides the brilliance of the team and the unbelievable quality of what they’ve put together is the fact that we broke the glass ceiling, getting FemShep on the box in the third one, and the fact that FemShep even exists is extraordinary to me. I’m super grateful to be a part of it.
RCG: Many people consider female Commander Shepard to be a feminist icon. It seems clear that you agree?
JH: I do, I absolutely do. I mean, it’s time, isn’t it? It’s time for everyone to have a seat at the table.
RCG: Have you taken part of that mantle personally?
JH: I try to take very little personally, because truly very little is personal in this world. I don’t know that I take it personally because it’s not about me, it’s about the project. I’m insanely grateful to be a part of it.
RCG: Social media has changed the way fans and game creators interact. Has that been beneficial to you, or do you prefer not to get involved?
JH: You know, it’s interesting. I like Twitter because I can have a brief and manageable way to connect with my fans. I occasionally, like right now, I’m on a little bit of a Twitter break because I get overwhelmed. I’ve been out of the country and re-entry is always a little jarring. It’s good to be back, it’s good to be home, but I need a little bit of a breather. I love Twitter though because I get to connect with people out there and we get to talk about things that matter to us, gaming and beyond.
RCG: Where have you been?
JH: I was at Supanova in Australia, which is a fantastic convention down there.
RCG: How many conventions have you done this year?
JH: It’s been crazy! Usually I only do three or four, but this year I think I’ve done ten. It’s nuts. I don’t ever do that many.
RCG: Is it exhausting?
JH: Yeah, the added travel and working all the way through the weekend, that part is tiring, then going back and doing sessions and regular life, but it’s so great to meet the fans and connect with them and everyone is phenomenal and intelligent and interesting and so much love out there. It’s wonderful.
RCG: Do you enjoy the whole convention scene?
JH: I love connecting with the fans because it’s really great to see the meaning – I mean, this is why we do what we do, right? It’s really great to see that it has meaning for people and to hear what it means to them and just to meet them.
RCG: What do you have in the works right now?
JH: For Honor, Ubisoft’s game, just came out. I’m the female Warden. The Long Dark releases on August 1st on Steam. I’m very excited about that. Working on a couple things I cannot discuss. I did some more Guild Wars stuff and some Star Wars: The Old Republic stuff. I’ve also got a show on Amazon right now called Lost in Oz. We just won the Emmy for Best Animated Series.
JH: Thanks! It’s them, they’re brilliant. I am also doing some Avengers stuff, Avengers Assemble. Guardians of the Galaxy I can talk about now.
RCG: Where do you see the next five years going?
JH: More of the same. I’m really grateful about my life. I’m really enjoying my podcast – it’s called The Art of Money on iTunes. Very much enjoying doing that. More of the same.
RCG: What’s the dream for you?
JH: To make the world better, that’s the dream. You know, the dream is to be with my family, be with my friends, have the amazing career that I have, and expand my real estate stuff that I love to do and impact peoples ability and empower people around money in my podcast. That’s really my mission to leave things a little better if I can, and try not to screw them up if I can!
RCG: Do you wish your career had moved in a different direction?
JH: No, I love my career just like it is. The one thing I’m excited to add more of at some point is a little more on-camera stuff. I enjoy doing that. But I love working with friends and I love working on Indie stuff. Those are two of my favorite things to do.
RCG: Is there any on-camera work in the past little while that you’d want to mention?
JH: I just did an episode of Shameless not too long ago. It’s been a couple years now, but I worked on David Hayter’s film Wolves, which was a blast. I did a movie called Fight to the Finish a couple years ago. Just the occasional TV/film thing. One of my favorite things was Yuri Lowenthal and Tara Platt’s Shelf Life series – I got to come in and do just a little guest spot as an absolutely insane ballerina, and that was a blast.
RCG: Gaming has changed from a mere hobbyist or entertainment activity toward progressing towards becoming more serious media culture over the past five to ten years. It’s provided feminist discussion, among many other topics. Do you see yourself and your work as a part of that shift?
JH: Oh yeah. I mean, it’s certainly not about me personally at all, but gaming is really starting to drive the pop culture conversation, and it’s cool to see.
RCG: Will we ever see a game that carries the same weight as, say, Lord of the Flies?
JH: I think we already have. It’s just not evident to corporations making those decisions. Also, I don’t think it’ll have the ubiquitous quality of Lord of the Flies as part of our culture that way because one of the great things about gaming is that it can serve very particular segments. So, we’ve got a more segmented pop culture pie, but it’s really compelling because each segment can really appeal to the people it appeals to.