By Marty Mulrooney
Alternative Magazine Online reviewed The Wolf Among Us: Episode One – Faith (PC) in October 2013, writing how “the voice acting, as is to be expected by now from a Telltale Games production, is world-class.” With Episode Two just around the corner, AMO is absolutely delighted to follow on from our recent interview with Bigby Wolf voice actor Adam Harrington with an exclusive online interview with Erin Yvette, the up-and-coming voice actor behind Snow White!
Hi Erin, thank you for your time and welcome back to AMO!
Heya! Thanks for having me back!
How have you been and what have you been up to since our first interview last year?
It’s actually been quite a year for me! When we last spoke, I was just beginning rehearsals for Steel Magnolias in Novato, which ended up going very well. I worked with a lot of great actresses and folks that I deeply admire. Then I landed the role of Bonnie in Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead DLC, 400 Days. It was perfectly timed, since I had just polished up my Southern accent for the role of Shelby in Steel Magnolias.
Shortly after, I was cast as Snow White in Telltale Game’s The Wolf Among Us. The recording process spanned over a couple of months, as the game itself was still being reworked and rewritten throughout the summer, but I enjoyed every minute of the experience. Around that time, I was bouncing back and forth from the studio in Fairfax for Snow stuff to the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco where I was working in an intensive acting program for contemporary and classical works. I fell completely in love with that type of concentrated and rigorous training and, personally, believe I improved quite a lot as an actor over that summer.
I then embarked on my last semester at UC Berkeley and was cast in a goofy “radio play within a play” type show. It was surprisingly fitting, as the majority of my role involved acting behind the mic, so I was able to experiment a lot vocally. Then I completed my BA in Theater and Performance Studies in December!
Recently, I was lucky enough to meet with the folks at STARS, the agency that represents the majority of the voice actors you know from Telltale’s games and others, and they agreed to take a chance on me as a voice actor; this is a huge step for me, considering my access to opportunity has just increased exponentially, and I am incredibly grateful and excited. Now, I am working as a Production Assistant at my old UCB theatre department and I’m continuing to audition for various VO work. Phew! Hopefully that’s as interesting to read as it was fun to write. 2013 treated me well! 🙂
Are you still studying Theater and Performance Studies?
I just graduated last month, which is technically a semester early (if you total up my one semester at NYU, three at my local Junior College, and three at UC Berkeley). A bit of an unconventional college experience all in all, but enlightening and inspiring nonetheless.
Molly in The Walking Dead was your first voice acting gig – has playing that part opened up more doors for you?
Oh, man. I mean, what a gig to land as my first! Initially, when I was cast, I was just overjoyed at having the opportunity. Little did I know the game would go on to win over 80 Game of the Year awards and Molly would find her own group of fans and supporters (yeah, Molly!). I was so lucky and honoured to be a part of such a cool game, a game I sincerely enjoyed playing. I was just a small part of it, but dropping that title on my resume has been quite helpful in getting noticed as a novice in the VO industry.
You recently landed the part of Snow White in Telltale Games’ episodic video game based upon the Fables comics, The Wolf Among Us. I think you’re doing a fantastic job, congratulations! Did you audition specifically for this role?
Why, thank you! Actually, at first, I auditioned for most of the female roles in the game except Snow. I tried doing a few versions of her audition, but I struggled to properly dissect the “cold and strong exterior with the warm yet tortured interior” that was necessary for this super iconic, yet twisted, character. So, I didn’t send my audition in for her. I was closing in on a different role when the folks at Telltale Games requested I submit a Snow audition. I sucked up my self-doubt and worked like crazy on her audition, trying a lot of different things to make sure her business-like persona had the right balance of determination and distance. It was challenging, but I ended up with an audition I was happy with. I landed the role (yahoo!) and received even more help in developing the character once I was in the booth with awesome dialogue and clear direction.
You must have been over the moon to get the chance to play such an iconic character! Did you read any of the Fables comic books in advance to prepare for the role, or were you already familiar with the source material?
Nick brought home several issues of the comic when Telltale first announced they were doing the title. I’ve been working through each volume slowly since then, though I’m not completely up to date. It’s interesting using an established character as reference when working on that same character, but existing 20-something years previously. In the fable’s universe, 20 years really isn’t much time, but you’re definitely not meeting the same woman in Episode One that you meet in Issue #1. 1980’s Snow isn’t aware of the developments in relationships or in her personal growth that we see in the comics. Ultimately, I think The Wolf Among Us Snow is just slightly more optimistic that things can get better than the slightly more jaded Fables Snow.
What attracted you to the role of Snow White and how would you describe her as a character?
What attracted me is the same thing that intimidated me: her emotional complexity. Those who are familiar with the comics know that Snow’s past is nothing like the Disney version. She was separated from her family at an early age, was nearly murdered a few times, was seriously abused and mistreated by the dwarves (then trained in fencing just to slaughter them all) and was cheated on by her husband (with her sister). Yet she still has ambition and determination. Considering all of this, her drops in façade and moments of honesty are, personally, the most fun for me to play with. She’s clearly fighting against and for multiple things in her past and present, and that kind of drive is something I always love exploring in a character.
How would you describe her relationship with the game’s anti-hero protagonist, Bigby Wolf?
Oof. Complicated. I guess I would say the largest components of their relationship are trust and respect. Not necessarily because it’s consistently present, but because it’s what they are both fighting to maintain with others; so when they’re together, there’s this shared understanding, a mutual attempt to help each other… but when that understanding is lacking on either side, it creates a major rift between them.
What does it feel like to be working with Telltale Games again?
Wonderful, of course! The entire Telltale team is top-notch and I couldn’t ask for more. Pierre Shorette and the writing team did an incredible job capturing the game’s tone and Snow’s development in Episode One. Julian, Jory, and Tim (the Bay Area Sound VO director and engineers) are the most talented sound dudes I know, and they make the recording environment so laidback and enjoyable. And it’s always fun being in the booth with Nick (who co-directed Episode One with Dennis Lenart). Nick and I are lucky to have an effective working relationship, where he can give me a piece of direction with just a facial expression or personal reference, and I immediately get it. Then, there are all of the talented folks who I never get to work with directly, but who take my performance and use it to make something way cooler than I could have imagined.
It must be great to be voicing yet another strong and well-written female character (after playing Molly in The Walking Dead). How do you feel about female video game characters in general and what do you think makes Telltale so good at writing them?
I’m not quite a big enough gamer to speak with too much authority, but from what I have seen and played, many female characters are still unfortunately hyper-sexualized or simply tossed aside as unimportant. But on the other hand, the gaming industry seems to be making steady strides towards equal and honest representation of women. I’m thinking of games like Double Fine’s upcoming Broken Age, The Fullbright Company’s Gone Home, and of course, Telltale’s The Walking Dead… and there are a ton more. In general, I think Telltale’s narrative and character-driven games lend themselves perfectly to deeply exploring both male and female characters to a point we don’t normally see in most genres. With such a strong focus on character development, I think the Telltale creative team makes a serious effort to pay close attention to depicting each character in an authentic and insightful way that serves to create that human connection so many players, including myself, feel with their characters.
Have you played Episode One: Faith yet?
I have! I actually didn’t know the ending until I played. I had to pick my jaw up off the floor.
What did you think of the finished game and who was your favourite supporting character (apart from Snow of course!)?
The finished product was awesome! The Wolf team worked so insanely hard for so insanely long on that 2 hour game, and you can see it in every detail. I love the art style and overall sexy, gritty tone. I’m personally a Bufkin fan. He’s a screw-up, but he’s a nerdy and cute flying monkey. I mean, come on.
Have you recorded for The Wolf Among Us – Episode Two yet?
Alas, the final minute of Episode One can answer that.
You also voiced Bonnie in the DLC Walking Dead episode 400 Days earlier this year. Bonnie is a much more vulnerable and in many ways less confident character than Molly and Snow, although she does display surprising reserves of inner strength – was it a challenge to voice someone so completely different in personality?
Bonnie is closer to how I would describe myself, so I actually had a wonderful time recording her moments of vulnerability, as well as her flirty, sassy moments. Unlike Molly and Snow, she doesn’t put up much of a façade, so I was able to explore a wider range of emotion in a more direct way. Both types of characters are fun in their own respects, but I felt a little less restricted with Bonnie.
It’s safe to say that you’ll be back for The Walking Dead Season 2 as Bonnie – however, I know your lips will be tightly sealed on this topic. So I’m going to ask a slightly vague question and I’m fine with you giving me an extremely vague answer. You said to me last year that you “would love to revisit her character” – is that still the case? 🙂
Absolutely! Yeah, if the folks at Telltale and The Walking Dead fans want to see Bonnie again, I would be SO on board.
I have to ask – when I interviewed you last year for The Walking Dead you were credited as Erin Ashe, but now you’re being credited as Erin Yvette… what’s the story behind this?
Well, it was brought to my attention that there is already an “Erin Ashe” in the SAG-AFTRA union, and my credits were constantly being put on her profiles/listings/etc. and vice versa. Additionally, I knew that if I were ever to join the union, I would have to change my stage-name (two actors in the union cannot work under the same name). So, with that all in mind, I changed my stage name to Erin Yvette (Yvette is my middle name). This was a tough change for me… I had grown quite fond of my birth name. Since I’ve changed it, people I’ve met have told me “Erin Ashe is such a great name for the stage!” and my heart weeps a little each time. Ah, well. ‘Tis the business!
What’s next for you Erin?
Well, now that I’m with STARS, I’m auditioning here and there for various projects, so only time will tell! I’m also currently working on some other VO and theatre stuff, none of which I can speak on yet. Vague answers are the worst…Sorry!
Thank you for your time. I’m absolutely loving your nuanced performance as Snow White and I can’t wait to see what you do next!
Thank you so much! 🙂
GAME REVIEW – The Wolf Among Us: Episode 1 – Faith (PC)
INTERVIEW – In Conversation With Adam Harrington (Bigby Wolf, The Wolf Among Us)
INTERVIEW – In Conversation With Erin Ashe (Molly, The Walking Dead: The Game)