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Student spotlight: Julia Barker, Mills’ resident voice actor

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Mills student Julia Barker is graduating this year, and they’re leaving as a professional voice actor. Barker knew they wanted to be a voice actor since age 14, and they knew that they wanted to utilize their time at Mills to the fullest extent possible, so they entered Mills as a Theater Studies major “for the sake of voice acting.” In addition to taking singing classes during their time in college to improve their technical control, Barker also was able to take a course on recording techniques and learned how to use Protools while improving their audio editing skills.

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Even as a college student, Barker has worked on “video games, podcasts, original animation and audio-drama pieces.” They take inspiration and motivation from Darin De Paul’s performance of the character Ardyn Izunia in the video game “Final Fantasy XV.”

According to Barker, the character “oozes slimy, aristocratic confidence in the best way possible. [They] think that says a lot about how skillfully he was handled in all stages of production, but the vocal performance really drives home the heart and nuance of who he is as a person.”

Of their own performances, they identified their favorite as being the voice of Sirius in the upcoming visual novel “Royal Duality.”

“Sirius was phenomenally written and a joy to play,” they said.

Barker will be featured in many upcoming projects in addition to the visual novel “Royal Duality”; they are also working on the series “Crescent Fire,” to be released in 2021.

As Barker leaves Mills for the competitive professional voice acting industry, they express excitement about new opportunities for voice-over artists. The recent explosion in popularity of scripted, narrative-driven podcasts like “The Magnus Archives” from Rusty Quill, “The Penumbra Podcast” from Sophie Takagi Kaner and Kevin Vibert, or “Alice Isn’t Dead” and “Welcome to Nightvale” from Joseph Fink give Barker confidence in the voice acting industry as a space for indie creators.

“I think that narrative-driven podcasts and other audio-drama formats are a really great way for independent creators to spearhead projects of their own,” they said. “From an actor’s perspective, audio-drama work is simply another means to work and continue to hone your craft—and working on original material is always exciting.”

So far, Barker has voiced three characters in audio dramas, Vígniút/Valkyrie in “Voice of All,” as well as multiple roles in the “Darkest Dungeon” franchise, and they’re excited to continue.

Fans of audio dramas and scripted narrative podcasts will know that an accessible medium like a podcast is ripe for independent creators, and thus for the inclusion of LGBTQ characters that large production companies aren’t willing to risk portraying. Barker appreciates this, and notes their fondness for the character of Vígniút (Voice of All).

“Vígniút means a lot to me from a representation standpoint,” they explained. “Víggy was the first nonbinary character I had the opportunity to inhabit, and they’re just so different from a lot of the other roles I’ve had.”

Barker is thankful for the artistic opportunities they’ve found at Mills and excited for those to come as a graduate.