Life Is Strange has proved itself as one of the gaming series to truly value its characters in the same bracket as any other aspect of the title. Whether it was Dontnod Entertainment’s critically acclaimed Life Is Strange or Deck Nine’s work on the ongoing Life Is Strange: Before the Storm, the characters that emerged in both titles have captured the hearts of many fans. Of course, Life Is Strange’s episodic narrative is reliant on its characters to engage a player’s interest, and more importantly, provide a worthwhile reason to learn more about each of their stories. In Life Is Strange, players were introduced to the dynamic duo Max Caulfield and Chloe Price and experienced a riveting story with twists and turns waiting around every corner. But even with Max and Chloe taking center stage, Life Is Strange had another character that held equal stature to both female heroines. That character was none other than Rachel Amber.
The enigma that was Rachel Amber in Life Is Strange had players constantly asking themselves questions about the character throughout all five episodes of Dontnod’s title. Rachel’s disappearance was an important plot point, sure, but she was more than just a character set up to purely move the story forward. Even in Life Is Strange’s early days, it was clear that Dontnod could build an entire story around some of its characters. Rachel perfectly fitted that build. The fact that Rachel never physically appeared in Life Is Strange made it such an intriguing aspect of the title, as players uncovered more about her through their interactions with other characters or through story progression. Dontnod’s meticulous character development of Rachel, prior to the events of Before the Storm, meant that it would be no easy task for Deck Nine to bring her to life as a physical character. Deck Nine would have to integrate a character that personified the Life Is Strange story on many levels, including the reason why Chloe holds Rachel in such high esteem. “Rachel Amber… she was my angel,” Chloe said in Life Is Strange.
Even with Deck Nine playing its part to create Rachel in physical form, the final aspect — and one that could not be underestimated — would be the selection of an actor that would complete the voice of the character. Both Deck Nine and Dontnod Entertainment have not undervalued the performances that its actors have brought to each character. With Rachel, that would be no different. But with Rachel, however, it was also a monumental task to take such a mysterious, enticing figure and turn her into an instant fan-favorite character. Hardcore Gamer had the privilege to speak with Kylie Brown, who voices Rachel in Before the Storm, for an exclusive interview. We talked to Ms. Brown about how she landed the role of Rachel in Before the Storm, the preparation she took for voicing the character and what it was like to be involved in a Life Is Strange title.
[Hardcore Gamer] What made you want to pursue a career in acting?
I think I was 11 years old when I watched a movie with my family and I left the theater with my heart throbbing and I knew right then that I wanted to become an actor. It was more of a feeling than anything else and it’s a crazy career to pursue, but I can’t think of anything else I would ever want to do for the rest of my life. It’s a passion, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Take us back to the moment when you first heard that you had landed the role of Rachel Amber in Life Is Strange: Before the Storm. How did it feel to hear the news?
When I was first booked for Life Is Strange: Before the Storm, I didn’t know what it was due to it being under [different] codenames. I didn’t actually find out what it was until the first day in the studio. Rhianna [DeVries] showed me how incredible and huge the game was on her phone and that’s when the butterflies came. I was nervous, but ecstatic, to be voicing the one and only Rachel Amber.
What was it like to play one of the main characters in a video game at such a young age? Were you able to pick up any useful tips from your fellow actors, or did the folks at Deck Nine help you bring out your full potential for the role?
It’s insane! But, I mean, that’s what I came out to Los Angeles to do: to work. So, it’s been an incredible experience with everyone attached to the game and it was my first voice-over work ever, so if I learned anything from this, it was how the voice-over industry works and I really quite like it.
How did you prepare for the role of Rachel? Was there a certain type of mindset or routine that you would do before entering the studio to record lines?
I did extensive research on Rachel with what I could find from the first game. Everything from how tall she is and what color her eyes are to what fans were commenting on about her. I had huge shoes to fill and expand on and I wanted to do right by the fans and take what I learned about her and bring her to life.
Rachel and I have a lot in common, so I didn’t really have to change mindsets because of it, which was great. The VO directors, Phil [Bache] and Webb [Pickersgill], did the rest when it came to the emotional aspect.
Despite the fact that Rachel never physically appeared in Dontnod Entertainment’s Life Is Strange, she was essentially one of the most important characters in the story. Were you aware of the history behind the character? And what kind of features were you particularly keen to highlight in Rachel through your performance?
I was aware of the history due to doing the research. In almost all of the films I do and characters I portray, I always strive to play the vulnerability and love, so with Rachel I wanted different layers coming through. I was keen to highlight the vulnerability, love and betrayal that Rachel felt in my performance.
There is always an ongoing discussion surrounding more female protagonists in gaming. Life Is Strange is one of those titles to have both of its main characters be female. After performing as Rachel, do you feel that Life Is Strange is a testament for games to feature more female leads?
Oh, definitely. And I love that these female protagonists are strong, independent and loving. I was so honored to be the voice of Rachel and, hopefully, other games — and even live-action films — start to follow Life Is Strange’s lead.
This interview continues on page two, as Kylie Brown reveals her favorite scene to record in Life Is Strange: Before the Storm, what to expect from Rachel Amber in Episode 3: Hell Is Empty, her reaction to the Life Is Strange community and also shares her love for soccer.