Hello, FemHype readers! I’ve got a treat for you. Earlier this month, I sat down with the lovely and talented Allegra Clark, long-time video game fan, cosplayer, and the voice of Josephine Montilyet from Dragon Age: Inquisition. While the majority of that interview covered her experiences working on Dragon Age, we also touched on her inspirations, aspirations, and the wonderful world of magical girl anime. Catch the full interview in the video below, or if you’re short on time, continue on to read up on some of the highlights!
[Want to see the full interview? Watch it here!]
[Need a transcript? Download a PDF of the full text here.]
Rem: I’m always interested to see where people draw their inspiration from. I know you’re a huge Dragon Age fan, but there’s got to be other things, too. Favorite female characters, and like, video games—it doesn’t have to be exactly video games.
Allegra: Ok, well, embarrassing first answer is 100% my mom.
Rem: Oh, that’s not embarrassing.
Allegra: Well, it’s the dorky sentimental. Everyone wants to know about video games, no one wants to know about my mom. But she really is an inspiration to me. Both of my parents, but like my mom works as an executive in New York and she is just so kickass, and gorgeous, and poised, and everything. And I grew up with this sense of just like, wow, if I end up like my mom I’d be like a really cool lady. And, sure enough, when I say things and I realize I sound exactly like my mother, I just kind of laugh joyfully as opposed to laughing in terror. [Laughs]
Rem: That’s always nice. Kind of flips the stereotype, “Oh, I’m turning into my mom! Yes!”
Allegra: Yes! No, that’s really cool, she’s awesome! And yeah, she’s, you know, very driven. And so she taught me to ultimately not be ashamed of who I am. And to move forward and try to be positive. And she’s also like one of my best friends, so I—I totally call home like every other day and chat with my parents and just tell my mom what’s going on and chat with my dad about like everything. Family is a huge source of inspiration for me.
Ahhh as for games and stuff, well. Gonna give the answer I’ve given a thousand times: Isabela from Dragon Age. I mean, everything about her. I think she acknowledges that she makes mistakes, and by the end, particularly if you’re on a friend-romance path with her, she’s able to happily want to work on them because she realizes she’s not perfect. But at the same time that’s okay, she’s okay with not being perfect because at the end of the day she wants to feel comfortable in her own skin. And that—particularly as a self-conscious 22-year-old—it was such a cool thing to hear. Like, it’s cool, I know I’m kind of terrible, but I like me and other people should like me, and if you don’t like me well then I don’t have to deal with you. It’s like, whoa, wait, hold on a second. I’ve never heard people talk about this before. I’ve never heard a woman talk about this before. And it’s just like— I don’t want to say this sheer self-love so much as self-respect. Which is funny because sexist people would argue that Isabela has no self-respect, but at the end of the day, she does. She respects herself.
And that’s why I cosplay her in the end. Because she was just so … inspiring for me in that regard. Like, I just wanted to find a way to be her. And for me, that way was going, “Maybe I’ll be cool like her if I dress up like her.” And in the end, it was like I can be Isabela even without the costume, so that was a great lesson. It’s a great role transformation there.
And Sailor Moon was also a huge, huge influence for me. Sailor Moon with like … Usagi is absolutely driven by her compassion for her enemies and by forgiveness, and ultimately, she wants to befriend them. Friendship and love and forgiveness as core themes that we can teach people and really reinforce, especially when they are mixed with a little bit of violence. Like ultimately, like, yeah, you could punch someone, or you can be friends. And punching is powerful, but friendship is more powerful. I just think those are really nice and really positive messages.
Usagi herself, it’s not like—she’s a very flawed character, but ultimately her greatest strength isn’t her silver crystal or her hereditary moon powers. It’s the fact that she cares. She cares about people, she cares about everything around her, and that’s ultimately her greatest strength and why she can be as powerful as she is. I could—I really like Sailor Moon. I really like magical girl anime in general. Because, like, wow, it turns out being friends with people and femininity are powerful. I was actually just thinking about this last night when I was thinking about the interview and trying to come up with answers for a couple things. And going like, “Oh my God, are there a lot of women in video games who I can really identify as—you know, I can say I’m fond of very many of them, but can I identify them as inspirations for me?”
And ultimately, when I think back on it, so many of the characters that inspired me were girls from magical girl anime. Because it was feminine girls being really cute and feminine and also kicking butt and being friends and having magic. And that was just such a delightful thing for me to grow up with, particularly as a very, very femme woman, as you can tell with my dress with poofy sleeves and my makeup and whatever. Like, that femininity not being a hindrance but a strength. That was something that I really, really love when media explores that. So, magical girl anime really, really locked in with me as a really great influence.
Rem: What are your hopes for future roles?
Allegra: Everything. [Laughs] God, what wouldn’t I do? It’s really interesting because when I was in college I always got cast as femme fatales. Like, consistently. So to go in gaming and be cast as a princess was very new for me again. Because I went from being cast as a little kid all the time when I was in high school, but then by like the end of high school (I think when my boobs came in) I became femme fatale. And then after all that, I graduated and—well, a) I really honed my little kid voices again, and then Josephine has been very princess. But really, I don’t know. I mean, it’s really fun to play characters like her, but certainly that’s not the only thing I ever want to play. I want to play tough girls. I want to play girls who punch first, ask questions later. I want to play bad women, I want to play good women. I want to play all kinds of really wonderful characters.
One of my hopes for gaming in general and a lot of geek media is just acknowledging that there can be so many different kinds of women. Like, we can have the same breadth and variety of female characters as we can male characters. And also, I should add characters who fall outside the binary of gender. But speaking specifically in terms of women, we can and should acknowledge that there are as many varied, flawed, sometimes-good, sometimes-bad, all-over-the-place women as there are men. And so I want to have the opportunity to play every kind of woman, because it means that they exist.
And that will be really great, that’ll be so fulfilling. And—I don’t know. I’m not satisfied with this idea that there can only be a token girl in an entire game. And that, also, you know, she has to be perfect. Or if there are one or two women, that they have to be perfect because they’re representing all of women. The moment there are more women, we [can] stop treating women as tokens and start actually treating them as characters.
Rem: Yeah. Less archetypes, more people.
Allegra: Exactly, exactly. Less it’s this dude [but] with a pink bow, or she’s “the girl.” Less stereotypical terrible lines like, you know, “Well, I’m a girl and I know you guys are being ridiculous.” We can have characters like that, but maybe not with the ONLY girl.
Rem: What game would you recommend that our FemHype readers have to go play like right now, or as soon as possible?
Allegra: Oh gosh! I want to say the Renaissance lady simulator [Masques & Murder], which is short and you can just donate to the developers. You don’t have to pay, but they recommend a five-dollar donation. It’s a really cool twist on an RPG; you’re a lady in the Renaissance and your dad and brother got killed, and you’re going to be forced to marry one of the prince’s sons as a part of a plot to take all of your money. So what are you going to do about it? So much of it is based around the skills that women would actually have or use. And also things like fencing and hawking and dueling with pistols and stuff like that. But [things like] how can you impress these different characters with your knowledge of the Classics.
There was a LOT of research done in there. You could tell that the people who made this game knew a lot about the Renaissance with the—[Laughs] this is like my nerdy thing over here. The progression from like, in our knowledge of the Classics, you can impress them with Latin or you can REALLY impress them with Greek. I was like, ooh, you guys know! You guys know the Renaissance well. That’s historically accurate as fuck. So you can impress them in different ways, but you also don’t want to raise their suspicion too much because you’re going to try to kill them. It’s really cool, and it’s just a text-based adventure. I ran through the game three times in the space of two hours, so it’s really short. But it’s a really satisfying experience, and as far as a really light game goes, I actually really recommend it. I thought it was really fun.
If you want a bang for your buck game, I have been playing the shit out of Don’t Starve.
Rem: Yes, Don’t Starve.
Allegra: Oh my gosh, I can’t stop playing it. And it’s one of those “Congratulations, you die, way to start over again [games],” but since it’s all randomly generated, you always get new challenges. And you can play as different characters who may be really good at this, but their sanity drains really quickly. So you’re going to start hallucinating about monsters, and then those monsters are going to be real and they’re going to kill you. Like levels of challenging gameplay and whatnot. So I really recommend that game as well.
Want more? Be sure to check out the interview video or read the transcript provided above. You can also follow Allegra at SimplyAllegra on Twitter and Twitch, and CaptainAllegra on Tumblr. And if you feel like it, you can find me at Remkiie on Twitter or as LadyCadashing on YouTube and Twitch. Thanks for reading!