IGC sat down with Ashly Burch – Voice actor for Kate Bishop in Marvel’s Avengers, we hope you enjoy the interview.
What drew you to the role of Kate, and why do you feel she is such an important character to take on the Hawkeye name?
I was drawn to Kate from the beginning because she’s just such a funny character. I love characters with a good sense of humour, and Kate is extremely funny and an extremely dynamic character, so I was really excited at the prospect of getting to play a really snarky, funny Avenger. It’s really cool. And you know, Kate is more than up to the job of being Hawkeye. She’s an extremely experienced fighter, she’s amazing with a bow, and her relationship to Clint is really fun, as you see in this game. They have a really earnest and sweet dynamic. I think she’s a perfect addition to the Avengers.
What do you feel it is that sets her apart from the rest of the Avengers?
I think that Kate—you know, all of the Avengers are funny, that’s sort of the tone of Avengers now, which is so great, but I think Kate has that sort of snarky, devil-may-care attitude that I feel like you might find with like, a Tony Stark. But I think at the same time, she has also has kind of a gooey centre. She acts like she can go it alone, but in reality, she really wants a sense of community and a sense of family with the Avengers. So I think what makes her great is not only that she’s a really dynamic fighter and she’s really funny, but also that she has this sort of complex element to her, which is that she feels a sense of abandonment that she has to work through. She has always wanted to be an Avenger, and there’s sort of this thing that she’s grappling with which is what she thought of them as a kid vs. now that she’s an adult – what does that relationship mean? So I think she has a really interesting relationship to the Avengers as a whole, and how she is as a character – and how she interacts with them – I think makes her feel really distinct and really interesting.
What sort of prep work do you undertake when taking on a role such as this one?
Well, for Kate, you know, she’s so well-established in comics, and I have always sort of had a voice for her in my head anyway, so I was sort of just tapping into that voice. But yeah, I mean it’s great with a script like this, where, a lot of times as a voice actor you sort of come in and you’re reading cold off of a script, and you’re having to sort of discover the character, and deliver the line, and understand and process what’s going on all at the same time. With this script, it was so well written, and Kate was so funny and so distinct and so unique and well-defined, that it really wasn’t hard to lock in to her voice and be able to play – and I had a really great director named Kal-El, who helped me along the process, and together I think we found something really cool.
How much leeway were you given to bring your own thoughts and processes to your performance as Kate?
I think I was given a lot of freedom to sort of find Kate and apply my own personality and my own viewpoint onto her, especially in the sections of banter with the other Super Heroes. They gave me a lot of room to play and to mess around and to have fun, and so I really felt like I was able to take ownership of her as a character and inject my sense of humour, but as I felt like it pertained to her, as I felt like it was consistent with her character. So there’s a lot of fun stuff with her that I feel like I got to find, because the developers and my director were so open to playing and seeing what came out.
Do you have any tips or tricks for Marvel’s Avengers players for using Kate?
Have fun with the teleporting! You know, you don’t have to just use it in battles, you can use it to traverse the landscape if you want to get somewhere faster. And also, she’s really fast, so I think, enjoy that! Enjoy the speed with which she attacks. But I think in particular, the teleporting is really fun, because it’s really useful in battle, but also it’s useful in just getting around, and it’s a fun way to get around.
Could you take us through a typical recording session?
Sure! So, with this game, I think I would get the script maybe like, a day before. I’m not expected to have it memorised, because that’s not how voice sessions work, but it’s sort of as a heads up of, ‘this is the type of stuff that we’re going to be recording’. I come in the booth – for some of the sessions, I went into this booth behind me; because of the pandemic, I wasn’t able to go into studios – so I go in the booth and my director will give me the context of the scene that we’re about to engage in. We’ll deliver a couple of takes of my version of that scene or that line, I’ll get a direction, I’ll take it again, and then we’ll kind of just move onto the next line. We just sort of do that until we’re done with the script. Depending on the line and depending on the production needs, I might be able to improvise or go off script or add things or try things. Generally, you get a script, you cold read perform it, and then you just kind of make your way through.
You touched upon it there a bit, but how has the current pandemic affected a typical voice recording session?
So I don’t go into studios anymore. I have a booth from home, and I have a microphone set up, and I connect to different projects via Zoom, or Source Connect, or other methods of connecting. Apart from that, I kind of go through the script as normal, it’s just that I sometimes don’t have an engineer, which – bless engineers, their jobs are so hard! – so I have to adjust my own gain, or make sure I’m not clipping, or whatever it happens to be. For Horizon Forbidden West, which we’re recording, I got sent a headcam for performance capture, so I put on my own performance capture dots, I strap myself in, I get the tech set up, and I have an engineer that remotes in and takes care of everything, audio. And then there are folks that work with the facecam that Zoom in, that make sure that the facecam is okay. What is nice about voice acting is that some of it was done remote anyway, before the pandemic, so there was a pipeline already established, and now people have just gotten really inventive with the ways that they’ve adapted to the circumstance, and I’m very lucky. It’s been more or less pretty smooth, and I’ve been able to keep working, which is – I’m very grateful for that.
What drew you to voice acting, and what do you think it takes to make a great voice actor?
I wanted to voice act ever since I played Metal Gear Solid. I love games, and I’ve always loved games, and I love cartoons, and I’ve always loved cartoons, and it was only when I played Metal Gear Solid that it occurred to me that voice acting was a job that someone could have, and ever since then, that’s all I’ve wanted to do. In terms of what makes a great voice actor, I mean, the primary thing about being a good voice actor is that you need to be a good actor. Being able to do a thousand voices helps, it’s great, it opens your opportunities for types of jobs that you can get, but the most important thing is that you’re up on your craft, that you know how to act, that you take that seriously. I think if you’re interested in being a voice actor, primarily you want to learn how to tap into your acting chops and make those as best as they can be. There are classes that you can take that help you with specific technical aspects of being a voice actor, but primarily, it’s acting – really fine-tuning that craft and bringing that to the booth.
That was actually the final question, whether you had any advice for anyone looking to get into the business. So, do you have any other tips that you’d like to pass on?
I’ve always found that making your own content is really helpful. I mean, that’s how I got started. The landscape is very different now than it was for me, but there are so many avenues where you can put yourself out there – Twitch, TikTok, doing YouTube videos. The more that you create your own stuff, I think the more that you learn, and the less you’re waiting for other people to give you opportunities. As much as you can try to create your own opportunities, I think that’s really useful. And even if you make a bunch of stuff and it doesn’t lead to you getting a job, you’re developing your skills, and then when the opportunity does arise for you to be able to jump in a booth, you’re more prepared for it. I would really encourage people to start making their own stuff, and find things that they feel excited about that they have control over, versus only waiting for the possibility of booking a gig, because sometimes it takes a long time, and sometimes gigs are few and far between. You want to make sure that you’re enjoying yourself and enjoying your craft and you’re enjoying your life outside of whether or not you’re booking a gig. I would encourage you to find something that you do on your own that you’re really excited about that helps develop your craft.
Thanks Ashly Burch for all the time you gave to us and your very in-depth answers to our questions its highly appreciated.
This interview was made possible by Virgin Media, UK partner of Marvel’s Avengers, and provided its customers with exclusive early beta access and in-game outfits.
Marvel’s Avengers is currently available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, and Stadia.
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