A Princess vs Peril Interview with Allegra Clark
Here’s that something special we’ve been talking about, Readers! An interview with the amazing Allegra Clark, voice actor for Josephine Montilyet in the latest of the Dragon Age series, Dragon Age: Inquisition. She was kind enough to answer some questions for us about what it’s like to go from being just a part of fandom to working in the industry, and her take on Josephine in the larger scheme of characters and diversity.
1. I think it’s safe to say your most iconic cosplay is that of Isabela in Dragon Age II. What was it like to get a job with Bioware after being an active participant in the cosplay fandom?
Pretty surreal! I think it’s a pretty safe generalization that the average fan–or at least, one that is willing to actively participate in a fandom–would do just about anything to contribute to one of their favorite series, and here I am living that dream! People in fandom at large have similarly been very supportive of my role in the game, which is about all I can ask for, really. I’m excited, and I’m glad everyone else is excited too.
2. How did you get started in voice acting?
I started doing commercials when I was an infant, and I think my first commercial VO job was at age … 13? Or so? But I didn’t think about pursuing VO as a career until my junior year of college. It was a very strange connect-the-dots of: “Well, you’re training to be an actor, and you like video games and cartoons, so … why not … do … that?” From there, I began training in VO specifically, taking some dialect and speech classes for general training, and working on commercial and microphone technique through various classes and seminars when I moved back to New York. While it’s not my first gig since graduating, Dragon Age is definitely my largest one, and the one I am most proud of.
3. What’s been your favorite thing about working for Bioware?
It’s definitely being able to give back to a franchise I care about, and to help to create something that can inspire people the way that I’ve been inspired. I can definitely speak at length about the amazing time I had in the booth, the people I’ve worked with, the script—well, within the scope of my NDA, at least—but truthfully, I love that I’ve gotten to help people I respect make something that they care about so deeply, and I’m honored that they trusted me to do so. When I visited the studio, I was overwhelmed by all the passion and hard work that the entire team was putting into making this game, in every area of the studio. It was a really grounding experience, and really inspired me to work harder so as to support all of their hard work.
On top of that, I love that I kind of get to give back to fans, in a way. I’ve been in varying fandoms for years and years, and have spent all of that time both seeing and personally experiencing the impact that creative works can have on the people who consume them. As fans, we latch onto these stories because they inspire us personally, and then we seek out like-minded individuals so we can enjoy these stories together. If something I helped make inspires and brings people together, then I’ll feel like I really accomplished something–after all, that warm, fuzzy, tearful feeling I got after playing some of my favorite franchises was what helped to steer me on this path in the first place.
4. Mass Effect and Dragon Age are pretty good about being inclusive with people of color and LGBTQ characters in their game, and we’re big supporters of the notion “representation matters.” How did it feel to be part of that representation through Josephine, a bisexual romance option?
I feel like we’re doing something right with Josephine. It’ll definitely be up to the players to decide whether our treatment of a bisexual woman of color was respectful as I’m not necessarily the best judge, but I personally feel as though we did a wonderful job with Josie. Keep in mind that this is a bit tricky to discuss before the game’s release, but I think she challenges some stereotypes, as a bi femme woman of color. It’s so rare that you get to see brown women, particularly in fantasy settings, as powerful, intelligent, and respected, and even more notably in a non-violent, princess-type role. I also think players will come out of her romance feeling really awesome, and if you do look at media a bit more critically, there are opportunities to find it empowering in addition to just being adorable and romantic. Happy to discuss it in greater detail once the game comes out, since I’m trying to speak vaguely around major story spoilers here, but I think people will be very happy with her.
Oh wow, I’m super excited.