I HAD the honour of being able to sit down and spend an hour or so with American voice actor Natalie Roers recently to speak to her about her upbringing, how she got involved in video game voice acting, how that came about, and what her perfect role would be.
Best known for her work in games such as Fear Effect Sedna, Blair Witch, Sense: A Cyberpunk Ghost Story, The Origin: Blind Maid and can more recently be heard in House of the Dead Remake, I’ve been a fan of her work for some time.
She is a Voice Arts Awards and PromaxBDA winning voice-over artist, Emmy-winning on-air talent, bestselling author, and musician who is currently touring the USA with her band Natalie and the Boys – so I am grateful she took some time out of her busy schedule to chat to me (and by extension, you!)
Natalie said she has been performing most of her life, and enjoyed entertaining people – her mother enrolled her in many local community theatre and musical performances growing up.
She was first introduced to the potential in voice acting at university and became intrigued in the option of this career pathway, yet still didn’t know how to pursue it. Personal computers and the internet were still quite new when Natalie was going up and there wasn’t much information or awareness around emerging careers; visiting the local library as a child to read books about technology was daunting and hard to get a handle on. Still, the technology always intrigued her despite the lack of people to discuss it with or mentors to learn from. As a university student she knew becoming a full time voice actor would require a move to California or New York. While both were places she loved, she was not keen on the idea of living alone in a huge city.
Her breakthrough almost by accident, when 16 years ago she purchased some recording software for her computer to do voice recording for music, and learnt from a friend that people actually pay for voiceover work which was being done from home.
She then realised this hobby could become a full time job, and hasn’t looked back since.
“Fear Effect Reinvented was actually my first gaming voice acting job I ever got,” she said.
“They actually found me on a voice actors bank and asked me to audition based on this… I had to actually audition several times for the role before being given the job and only then did they let me know what the role was for.”
While Fear Effect Reinvented has been in development hell since its 2017 announcement, Natalie did win the roles of the two Hanas in Fear Effect Sedna
“Although Fear Effect Sedna was announced after Reinvented and has since come out, I actually recorded Reinvented before starting on Sedna,” she said.
“Every role should feel natural – if it isn’t, it’s not the right role. Obviously with the role of Hana, even after I did my research, I could tell they were after an actor that sounded somewhat like the original.”
It was here where we started discussing how she has her own studio and in addition to doing this recording from home she also edits the work herself before sending it off to the employer at the time.
Her work with Fear Effect Sedna raised her profile and led to more work offers in the gaming industry – she’s built quite a resume over the years – allowing her to become established in the field.
Finding new roles is, for Natalie, a combination of proactive searching and having previous clients contact her – but either way, there’s an audition involved.
“People I have worked for previously will always approach me first with a role. But I still have to audition,” she said. “I still love the process of the audition.”
Having worked on both indie game titles and larger releases, Natalie said the process for each was similar, but the indie experience sometimes had its own challenges – language in particular being one.
“Sometimes having to read the script as is, even though it seems different in English, can cause some confusion,” she said.
“Sometimes there is no context given to the scene other then the dialogue”
She gave an example where she would be watching or playing the game and her character may be on a loud boat, yet the character are talking in a lower tone. Where if they knew this was part of the scene, a higher, louder tone may have been used for the context of the scene.
“Its a regular thing that happens and drives us all bananas! So please, don’t blame the actors,” she laughed.
“We are generally just using our imagination as the scene is based on a piece of paper; so we don’t know if there is a chainsaw in the background unless it is specified in the script.”
Motion Capture is another area which appeals to Natalie, who described it as “a marriage of my two passions” – namely voice over acting and entertaining.
She has a motion capture area in her home studio and has used it for performances already, which has allowed her to work remotely on some projects.
“We can just patch in with China, New York. Anywhere in the world,” she said.
“But if I was offered a demanding Mo-Cap role, I would be on the first flight out of here to wherever [it was].”
While she is a horror genre fan, Natalie said she was willing to take on a wide variety of genres as a voice actor
“It’s more about what I do. I love all the characters,” she said.
“The dream role is the role that doesn’t exist yet. But House of the Dead has definitely been my coolest experience to date.”
Natalie said she’d never looked at any of her performance roles – bey they acting, music or performance – as being any different to voice acting work.
“It’s all acting,” she said.
“There is zero ego when it comes to a role. All roles are fun.
“I love being able to do what I do. No role is too big or too small.”
To round out the interview, I asked Natalie what her favourite game was – and was pleasantly surprised by her answer.
“It’s Call of Duty Zombies Mode … I wish I could play something like a Queen Zombie boss in one of these roles. I’ve played a vampire and absolutely loved it!”