EuroGamer - Hale to the Commander
Eurogamer has an article and interview with Jennifer Hale. Most of us know her as the female version of Commander Shepard, but she has done far more than that.
Jennifer Hale has appeared in 142 games in a career that stretches back to the 16-bit era, a time when voice acting in games was just a scratchy novelty. She's had a major role in games that have defined this generation (including one of its most spectacular trilogies), and is half of an unforgettable double-act in one of 2013's most thought-provoking games, BioShock Infinite.
Yet despite her ubiquity, and despite her indisputable talents, fame has come slowly to Hale, a native of Labrador, Canada. At a time when established names like Nolan North are starting to edge out the Hollywood talent that publishers used to sloppily attach to their products, it took nearly half of the 20 years that Hale has lent her voice to games for her to garner any acclaim.
The seeds of her career were sown at the Alabama Fine Arts High School, where she joined the theatre department and would do occasional voice work for commercials while working as a production assistant. After graduation, she moved to Los Angeles, and started receiving calls about voice acting in games.
Working on Metal Gear Solid as Naomi Hunter (and later Emma Emmerich) brought Hale to the attention of gamers at large, but it was the relationship that began with Baldur's Gate that would go on to bear the most fruit with Mass Effect. BioWare's space opera trilogy was a spectacle on the grandest of scales in terms of story and blockbuster action, and one of Hale's favourite aspects of working on the series is that BioWare didn't change a word Shepard said, regardless of the gender chosen by the player. Hale wishes more writers chose that option.
"I challenge all writers out there to have a look at your lead character and unless they're specifically talking about their anatomy, that character could be a woman. Just change the name if you have to and try it. Because the time is here," she says.
"Look at Commander Shepard, you look at awesome characters like, looking at Game of Thrones - Brienne of Tarth, what a great character she is. Arya Stark, Daenerys Targaryen, these characters breaking the gender barriers in the way they're behaving in their worlds. And that can happen anywhere. I challenge you writers to do it because, frankly, the audience is starving for it."