Unveiling the World of Voice Acting
Patricia Summersett, the talented voice actress behind Princess Zelda, stumbled upon her iconic role unknowingly. Having recently moved to Los Angeles, Summersett utilized her network of contacts in the industry to secure an audition for an undisclosed video game. Interestingly, the audition script was intentionally “bleached,” devoid of any storyline or character information. Summersett auditioned for two generic roles: Princess and warrior woman.
When asked to portray the princess, Summersett was given the freedom to explore a range of fantasy-inspired accents, from the mid-Atlantic realms of English to the enchanting world of the U.K. Born and raised in upper Michigan, Summersett’s portrayal of Zelda is nothing short of angelic, regal, and ethereal. It wasn’t until she arrived for her first recording session and signed a non-disclosure agreement that Summersett finally discovered the magnitude of the role she was about to embrace.
Reflecting on her initial reaction, Summersett shared, “It was the best thing I could ever hear, and the most terrifying. You just hope you do a good job and make it to the end. It could be huge, and I could fall flat on my face.”
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A Career Built on Versatility and Passion
While voicing Princess Zelda brought Summersett both acclaim and, unfortunately, even death threats, it represents just one milestone in her extensive voice acting career spanning several decades. Summersett’s journey in the entertainment industry began at the age of 6 on the ice rink. From there, she ventured into the world of musical theater in Quebec during high school, eventually earning a degree in theater. It was during this time that Summersett realized the potential of voice acting as a viable career path, diligently scouring job boards for opportunities. Her first job involved a beer commercial on the radio, but it was in the gaming industry where she found her niche, particularly within the realm of indie titles.
Elaborating on her repertoire, Summersett revealed, “Most often, I audition for stealthy, strong female warriors, requiring a low earthy voice. However, over the past two years, I’ve voiced an array of characters such as warrior animals, robots, excited children, queens, elves, princesses, singing llamas, scientists, Barbie parrots, evil blood-lusting monsters, desperate yet good-hearted mothers, pragmatic scientists, people who scream, and various peculiar characters found in post-apocalyptic settings.”
In order to stand out from the crowd, Summersett went the extra mile, crafting semi-professional demos with a sound engineer, where she ingeniously wrote her own dialogues. This dedication and creativity caught the attention of a gaming company, marking her pivotal “a-ha” moment. One day, a director was seeking a voice for Angelina Jolie’s character in the video game adaptation of Beowulf. Summersett obtained the role, propelling her career to new heights and earning her membership in the prestigious Canadian union of film and TV. Simultaneously, she continued to refine her craft, obtaining a master’s degree in classical acting.
Immersed in the Universe of Zelda
Summersett, committed to her craft, delved into the depths of the Zelda universe, diligently researching and immersing herself in understanding the character she portrayed. This was not her first foray into an already well-established franchise. She had previously lent her voice to Hope Jensen in Assassin’s Creed Rogue and had the privilege of working alongside renowned actors within the voice acting community. Her contributions extended to voicing another character, Galina Voronina, in the Assassin’s Creed series. More recently, she revealed her involvement in Star Wars: Squadrons.
While playing Zelda propelled Summersett to the top echelons of her profession, she faced the challenges that women in the entertainment industry too often encounter. Condescension, stereotypes, and objectification were obstacles she encountered on her journey, although she refrained from explicitly naming the projects where these issues arose.
Nevertheless, Summersett remains optimistic about the industry’s evolution. Over the past “three or four years,” she has witnessed significant progress, such as the introduction of intimacy coordinators on sets, responsible for ensuring the safety and protection of actors during intimate scenes. The Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists describes an intimacy coordinator as an advocate and liaison between actors and production, offering guidance and choreography assistance for scenes involving nudity, simulated sex, and other intimate and hyper-exposed moments.
Aspiring Voice Actors: Opportunities and Beyond
For those aspiring to enter the realm of voice acting, Summersett emphasizes the importance of perseverance. She herself took approximately seven years to establish herself in the field. She encourages aspiring individuals, particularly women, as the opportunities are expanding. However, she emphasizes the significance of recognizing one’s own value as an artist and embracing personal growth and exploration. Pursuing positions in leadership and directing is also a valuable avenue for charting a unique path within the industry.
Summersett considers her work in the video game field to be a highlight in her multifaceted career, which includes music and TV acting. Above all, she acknowledges the eternal truth of being a voice actor: “One of the challenges of being a voice actor is that you’re only as good as your last project. The hustling never stops.”
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