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Kit Harris' Interview

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Dear Fans and Administrators of,

I'm quite flattered that you are interested in my work, career and myself. Sorry, it has taken a bit to get your questions answered. This time of year is very busy for me. I also am a landscape designer in the Pacific Northwest. So this season brings me my busiest time of the year. I hope the following answers are informative and will give you a bit of insight into who is the voice behind Cate and Inge.

1. How did you get into voice acting?
When I graduated from college with a B.F.A in Theatre Arts, I moved to Seattle, Washington and started doing stage acting. I was involved in a production when another actor suggested that I might be able to do voice over work for radio and TV commercials to pick up some money when I wasn’t working on-stage. It was a time when there were few female radio voice talent in the region. I would say I was one of 11 women in the Northwest. After working long, hard hours rehearsing for a stage production, I was overwhelmed that I could make in an hour of voice work about the same as a week’s worth of stage work.

2. Do you have any ambitions aside from voicing for games?
Actually voicing for games was the latest venue I’ve done in my career. Besides doing stage work and commercial voice over work (radio/tv spots), I am a landscape designer. So I’ve been acting for over 25 years, designing for over 10.
As a voice talent, my greatest fear is that we’ll be replaced by a computerized voices. The joke is that I get a call from my agent saying “I’ve got good news and bad news. The good news is that it is a loooooooong project. The bad is that this is the last job you’ll ever do.” Then I’m handed a Webster’s dictionary.

3. Are you working on any other voice or acting projects at the moment?
I still do commercial work. My agent finds gigs and refers me to clients. Voice work has changed greatly over the last 10 or so years. We used to go into studios to do auditions, now most of us have recording capabilities from our home computers that we post on our agency’s website for potential ad agencies and clients. I am doing a couple of radio spots for the Seattle Mariners in the morning and also a radio spot for Macy’s an hour later.
This July I will be doing a stage production premiere at ACT Theatre in Seattle. The play is called Mitzi’s Abortion. It runs from mid-July through mid-August.
I’m a member of 3 different unions: AFTRA (radio & TV artists), AEA (stage performers) and SAG (Screen Actors’ Guild).

4. Can we look forward to enjoying your work in any upcoming games?
I do have a new game being released soon, however, I have signed a non-disclosure clause that prohibits me from discussing it prior to release. This is a very common practice for companies that do games or software. I’m sure you can understand how competitive the industry is. This is part of the reality of doing this work.
When I first started doing software voice work, I knew so little about computers that I would tell the companies there was no problem having me leak any information, because I hadn’t a clue what it was all about. smile.gif....

5. Did your work on No One Lives Forever (NOLF) open up more opportunities for you as an actor?
To be very honest with you, I had no idea that the game was as popular as it was. It had been released for a year or so before I found out that it had won awards.

6. You did such an excellent job voicing Cate Archer. Can you divulge the reason why you didn't record her voice for NOLF2 & Contract Jack?
Most of my work I get through my agent, The Actors Group. The client (producers or ad agencies or game companies) contacts the agency directly for auditions or when they want to book me for voice work. The choice is that of the company. I don’t know why they decided not to hire me. You’d have to ask the producer.

7. Did you know what Cate looked like before you recorded the voice-over? If so, did knowing influence your characterizations of Cate's voice?
No, I didn’t. I remember going into the administration offices where they created NOLF after we had done most of the recording and seeing a “life-size” cardboard cut-out of Cate Archer. I had to laugh. I don’t look anything like Cate, but then, I’m guessing most women don’t. She reminded me of an armed Barbie Doll. The cutout was taller than I was. I hesitated giving my headshot for the website because I was afraid I would disappoint the fans, seeing what I really looked like vs. the cartoon character of Cate.

8. Would you say the voice you provided for Cate Archer is a specially acted voice or is that your usual speaking voice?
I was born in Portland, Oregon so I don’t sound like Cate at all. We originally recorded Cate with a Scottish accent. I used Sean Connery in my “ear’s eye” as a jumping off point. However, one of the producers was Scottish and thought that the choice I used was “dirty” or lower class Scot and thought it inappropriate. So we rerecorded Cate with the British bent instead.

9. Were you the actress who voiced the death screams for the female characters in NOLF?
Yes, I did a number of death screams, and, what we call in the business, “wild” takes of a variety of responses or vocal situations. I always find that the most fun and challenging. I love it when a producer says something like, “Okay, here she is swimming in pickle brine, gets bit by a shark and pulled into the water. GO!” “Now, we want no words, but suddenly you look up and see a flaming dragon diving at you close range. You recognize him as one of your adversaries, but since you are in disguise you’re not sure it recognizes you as enemy.” It gets the imagination going.

10. How did you do the German accent of Inge Wagner so incredibly well?
I LOVED doing Inge. I do quite a range of different accents. I’ve taken vocal coaching in college and also for many stage productions. I do have a good “ear” and can mimic voices well. I think that is just a lucky trait I was born with. It was what first got me into doing voice work. The actor I worked with who told me about doing voice work, knew that I used a wide range of accents. For Inge I tried to remember the actors in Hogan’s Heroes, an old TV show that had German soldiers. I’m dating myself here, aren’t I?

11. Approximately how long did it take you to record all the voices you did for NOLF?
To be honest, I can’t remember exactly how many sessions it took. Because we redid the same script first with a Scottish accent, it took longer than most jobs like this. I think I did it in two or three sessions of about 2-4 hours each.

12. Have you ever considered pursuing a singing career?
I’m not a singer. I say this even though I’ve been in a number of musicals onstage. I was told in the 8th grade choir to “mouth” the words. Ha. I can carry a tune and “belt” out songs, but I do “character” pieces. For instance, I was a singing cat for the Seattle Children’s Theatre in Bunnicula. I’ve been a singing baby for the Bon-Macy’s. I was a singing, hunchback, Pygmy dwarf for The Empty Space Theatre. So, as you can see, I really don’t do serious vocals.

13. Have you ever played any of the games that you've worked on?
I hate to admit it, but I’m not a “gamer”. My patience is dangerously short. I tell people I have computer attention deficit disorder when it comes to learning things on a computer. I love puzzles, but put a clock to it or someone chasing me, and my blood pressure goes sky high. I guess I live my life measured in time so much (30 and 60 second commercials), that I don’t enjoy timed activities. Give me baseball any day to a timed basketball or football game.

14. Of all the characters you've given voice to, do you have a personal favorite? If so, why?
I have several stock “characters” that I pull from my repertoire that I love. I have a kid, a flowered-hat old lady, a battleaxe, and several others. One I loved a great deal was my first software voice. I did PJ Rabbit for a series of books that were recorded by different well-known actors, like, Danny Glover and Robin Williams. The whole project took about three years so PJ became a part of me.
I’ve also been the voice for a GPS system for cars called AutoPC. That, by far, was most challenging. Sometimes it is harder saying a one syllable word than a whole paragraph, particularly when there is no image or visual reference. You are just listening to something in thin air. It seems that we really don’t “hear” anything until the second syllable. So a one syllable word out of the blue, like “Time”, just makes one say, “WHAT????” Odd, eh?

15. In conclusion... If you were trapped on a desert island and could only have three things, what would they be?
Okay, I’d definitely say a helicopter, helipad and pilot would be my overall first choice. But there once would have been a time when unlimited fresh water, sun screen and a very ingenious, good-looking male would have answered my prayers.

Thanks for all your kind words, encouragement and hope you’ll hear me again soon as some outrageous new character.
Kit Harris

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