Passion in the Voice – An Interview with Firewatch Lead Actress Cissy Jones
Cissy Jones may not yet be a household name in video game voice acting, but it’s only a matter of time before you see her name and hear her voice in a number of major games every year. She’s an up-and-comer with credits in many games you’ve probably played, playing the likes of Doctor Duff/Doctor Patricia in Fallout 4, Joyce Price in Life is Strange, and more characters than any actor in Telltale’s The Walking Dead. Most recently she voiced Delilah, one of the two leads in Firewatch, which we reviewed very positively. You can check out her full list of credits here.
With Firewatch hot off the fire (please excuse the painfully easy pun), we had the opportunity to ask Cissy some questions about her role as Delilah, her work with motion capture, and her overall experience as a voice actress.
PSLS: Hi Cissy, thank you for agreeing to answer some of our questions! Let’s start at the beginning. How did you first get into voice acting in video games?
Cissy Jones: I used to be a workin stiff. I hated it. Then I heard of a voice over school nearby and started taking classes. I was hooked from the get-go! I studied acting for a couple of years, managed to get signed to an agent, and made the switch from Silicon Valley to Hollywood!
PSLS: It looks like you’ve been doing voice work in games for the past five years. As technology has improved, how has that changed the way you need to approach each role and the work you have to do?
Cissy: Having the ability to research anything online is incredible; from dialects and accents to products to even pronunciation for certain projects! Also having a studio set up in my home with broadcast-quality sound makes it so easy to work with anyone, anywhere.
PSLS: In Telltale’s The Walking Dead, you voiced more characters than any of the other voice actors in the series. What methods do you use to make sure that each voice has their own unique character despite originating from the same person?
Cissy: For me it comes down to character development. What are their fears, hopes, dreams? What drives them? What’s the first thing that goes through their mind when they wake up in the morning? As long as I know these things (and many more) about each character, they’re pretty easy to keep separate.
PSLS: We’ve been told that you do a lot of mocap work in the industry as well. Can you tell us a little bit about some of the mocap work you have done?
Cissy: I can’t!! Unfortunately most of it is still under NDA until the games release! They are gonna be really cool though!
PSLS: How does being a motion capture actor for a digital character differ from being an movie or TV actor in front of a camera?
Cissy: It is very similar, for sure, but with mo-cap, the studio can still alter the appearance of the character however they want, as long as they have the movements and acting that they like (think “Avatar“).
PSLS: Your role in Firewatch is unique in that you are one of the two leads, but your voice is only heard over a radio. How did that affect the way that you approached bringing characterization to this role?
Cissy: I really love this aspect of the game. The player gets to decide how they want to engage with Delilah based on personality alone, not what she looks like. So for me, it was kind of cart blanche to take it to 11! I got to be at times goofy, funny, serious, flirty… And I didn’t have to make sure she fit into the typical “hot girl” or “good buddy” mold.
PSLS: Firewatch gives players branching dialogue options that affect the player’s relationship with Delilah. Was it a challenge to provide multiple different iterations of Delilah as the tone of her relationship with Henry changes based on those choices?
Cissy: It was remarkably easy. Sean Vanaman (the writer/creator) had Rich Sommer and I record from our respective home studios at the same time, while bridging into a conference call. So the dialogue you hear is an actual conversation, which made it so easy to keep natural! The responses are genuine.
PSLS: I know it’s probably hard to pick a favorite role, but are there any characters that you’ve had more fun with during your time as a voice actress?
Cissy: Hands down Delilah. It’s been 2 years of recording and I feel like she is someone I will always gush about.
PSLS: Are you ever given creative freedom to play each character and ad lib for what comes naturally, or do you have to stick pretty closely to the script that is given?
Cissy: Often times it depends on who the writer is and how attached they are to their script. But most times, yeah, a little improv can be a good thing!
PSLS: For our readers that are looking to break into the industry, what advice would you give them about being a voice actor or actress?
Cissy: Study study study! Take acting classes, improv classes, and definitely know what it means to run your own business!! It doesn’t matter what your voice sounds like, but if you can convey something genuinely and interestingly, that’s the key.
PSLS: I’m sure that a lot of your future work is still under wraps, but can you give our readers any hints as to what major roles we should look for you in the next year or two? Anything you are particularly excited about being a part of?
Cissy: There is a lot still under NDA, yes, but one project I CAN talk about (and am immensely excited about) is ADR1FT, launching March 28 with Oculus Rift! I am the lead character, Alex Oshima, as well as one of the side characters. It’s such a stunning game and I can’t wait for people to get their hands on it!
PSLS: Before we wrap up the interview, are there any final thoughts you want to share with the gaming public while we’ve got you in the spotlight?
Cissy: I am so excited to hear about people’s experience with Firewatch! I’d love to hear from you! Tweet me at @cissyspeaks and let me know!!
Thank you so much for talking with me – now go explore!
We want to thank Cissy Jones for taking the time to answer our questions and congratulate her on being an integral part of the well received Firewatch. Do you have anybody that you’d like to hear from? Let us know in the comments below or email me directly [email protected] with your requests and questions you want answered.
[Photo Credits: Jose Element]