Concordia University

Giving voice to Zelda

Starring role for alum Patricia Summersett in biggest video game of 2017
December 6, 2017
By Matthew Scribner

“It’s magical,” Patricia Summersett, BFA (theatre perf.) 07, says. “I’ve had some hard-to-describe experiences with Zelda fans this year already. They will remain poignant moments in my life — people bust out crying. It really means a lot to them.”

Patricia Summersett Actor Patricia Summersett has lent her voice to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and many other video games. | Photo credit: Andrea Hausmann

It makes sense that Summersett inspires these reactions from fans of Nintendo’s long-running Legend of Zelda video game series. She is the voice actor for Princess Zelda in the English-language version of the latest game of the series, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, which is being hailed as one of the best games of 2017.

Breath of the Wild is the first installment to feature full voice acting since the series began in 1986. The change drew skepticism from some fans, yet Summersett’s performance is proving popular. She attended Montreal Comiccon as a featured guest from July 7 to 9, 2017, signing autographs and posing for pictures.

“There are a lot of people who celebrate this game, and to be part of it is so much fun,” she says.

Concordia played an important role in Summersett’s success. She cites many professors and visiting directors who were a big influence on her, although the Department of Theatre helped in subtler ways too — “even being able to affirm and justify being in the arts,” Summersett says.

“It helps when you are in a program that supports you in that endeavour.”

As it turned out, it was a course in voice acting for animation that became especially important for her later career.

“It was at Concordia that I discovered that you can do voice acting for a living and it suddenly became a viable option for me to pursue,” she says. “I developed my first working voice demos at Concordia, and it led to my first indie games and radio ads.”

Still, Summersett was not ready to limit herself to voice acting alone — and, in fact, still refuses to do so. “I always come from a background of theatre first when I pursue voice work or when I pursue anything that is related to a character at all,” she says.

Princess Zelda Before portraying Princess Zelda in Breath of the Wild (pictured), Summersett’s favourite Zelda game was the 1998 classic Ocarina of Time. | Photo courtesy: IGN

Her career led her to a master’s degree of classical acting from the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in London, United Kingdom, then a course in Moscow, then to Toronto and finally back to Montreal, where she now splits her time with Los Angeles.

Montreal’s gaming boom

Montreal is important to Summersett personally and professionally. In addition to Breath of the Wild, the Michigan native has voiced characters for Square Enix’s Deus Ex: Mankind Divided and several games made by Ubisoft, including two games from the popular Assassin’s Creed series, where she also provided full performance capture.

Though Square Enix and Ubisoft are headquartered in Japan and France, respectively, those games were made in their Montreal offices.

“Montreal is booming right now for gaming,” Summersett says. “And it’s a really exciting time to live in or be associated with Montreal right now, if you have any interest in either voicing or developing games.”

Summersett recently guest starred in the CBC series Bellevue and the Freeform series The Bold Type, and has a small part in the feature film Mother!, directed by Darren Aronofsky.

She is working on other projects, including new video games, though her busy schedule working, auditioning, managing social media — and writing music for her band — prevents her from playing too much herself.

“I couldn’t be a hard-core gamer. I simply don’t have time to even entertain that idea,” Summersett says. “But I really love gaming when I’m with other people and I can share that experience.”

All in all, Summersett is enjoying her career, which is part of the advice she received in acting classes at Concordia:  “Inject joy into all of your work. Your work and your training are one in the same and joy is what you hope to communicate, even through the darkest of scenes.”

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