Community focus – Meet Jennifer Milward, a long time Tomb Raider fan known in the anglophone community for her engaging and well written novels as well as her ability to breath life into Lara Croft’s character using only her voice and talent for acting. Focus on her story, her projects, her involvement in the community and how she came to be one of the most beloved unofficial Lara Croft voice actresses.

frflag – Cet article est aussi disponible en français.

Hello Jennifer! Thank you so much for taking the time to answer our questions, could you introduce yourself to our readers and tell us how you became a Tomb Raider fan?

Hello ! I’m Jennifer Milward, most of people know me as JR. Milward or Greekey2. I basically got into Tomb Raider since “The Last Revelation” in 1999 as a “joke” from my mother because she saw an ad of it in TV and she was like “Ooh that looks like fun”. At first, I wasn’t a bird to Tomb Raider, when I first saw the ads I thought it was just another platform video game where you control a brainless big boobed girl, but after 10 minutes of gameplay I just said “Hang on a minute, this character is awesome” because she’s got a brain, the gameplay was very engaging and it hooked me!

So I assume Tomb Raider 4 is your favourite Tomb Raider game?

Well it definitely had an impact in my heart, it was my very first game, introduced me to the whole thing, but it’s a real fight between The Last Revelation and Angel of Darkness for me, because TLR was my very first game, and AOD because it expended Lara’s story and brought more challenges than before. Those two are in first place !

Please, tell us about your novel based on Tomb Raider : Angel of Darkness, when was it released ?

It got released in 2012, I started writing it in 2006 and I had 13000 words in, and then I had to move house, had some life changes and then in 2012, I had a little bit more time on my hand and I really wanted to finish this, so I went back at it and finished it by November, and finally, I published it the next month.

Do you have any other projects? I know you are currently making an audiobook of this novel on YouTube, have you got any side projects?

Besides the novel that tells the story of how Lara got out the pyramid from TR4, I have 5 other Tomb Raider short stories on my website. And for the last 3 years, I’ve been co-writing on a sequel novel, the story isn’t purely mine and it is also authored by Stefan Klim, another TR fan, and he basically took the bare bones of my story and ideas, but he added his massive knowledge of different myths and ancient cultures.

So you said it would be a sequel of your novel, but will it include references that were planned for the cancelled Tomb Raider : The Lost Dominion ?

Yes and no.. In 2012 I was brought by a group of fans that wanted me to be a writer for a sequel of “Angel of Darkness”, and they wanted me to turn this into a game, but the group collapsed by the time.. Because what I wanted to do was too big and ambitious, and I basically was taking too long. The original people in this group started to go their own ways and actually started to do their own prequel. With that said, and with all the luck I wish for them, I’m guessing that if you want to make justice to the story and want to make as a game, it would need a huge studio, and despite the incredible dedication of the franchise’s fans, you also need a lot of resources and time.. So, in my opinion, novelization is the easiest way to do it, and you don’t have to spend months to make a single cutscene animation or anything like that, you could just write it, even though I totally respect anybody willing to try to make a sequel out of game.

Also, when did the idea of becoming “Lara’s voice” occurred ?

It all started on tombraiderforums, a level editor asked for a person that could take Lara’s voice for his game, and at first, I replied joking a little bit as “I’m British and I’m a girl, when do I sign up ?” but after all, I gave it a try and it worked out. After that, people slowly started to ask me to incarnate Lara Croft in their own levels, though a lot of them didn’t have anything worked out yet about their project, it would be either not started yet, or just a few rooms that never ended because real-life took their time away, which is okay but I had to set up some limits.. So I eventually started to ask people to make sure that they are at a stable point in their development, or nearly done, for me to record something for them, because it can be time-consuming to do so, but in the end, it’s always fun to do it !

I also got asked to play Lara for some YouTube channels, I therefore shout out this passage to my good friend Andy and his series “Animated Croft” !

And how does it feel to know people are fans of your voice and are actually willing to work with you?

It’s overwhelming to know that my work is appreciated, and the biggest thing connecting with different people that have the same interest and love, it’s very inspiring and encouraging. To most of the fans, Lara influences their life and decisions ; she can really be a role-model.. She’s smart, determined, and she always finds a way to get out of the problem, and if she doesn’t, she makes a way out of it. So it can apply to everyone, even if it can be scary and don’t know what may happen, but that’s just how life goes.

Definitely, connecting with amazing creators and people is the best way to show your love about the game, and all that by pouring a little bit of your energy into something that others will enjoy. This is why I’m writing these novels, because I hope people are going to enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy writing it, because creating something about Tomb raider brings me a great amount of joy. And knowing from people that they enjoyed my work always puts a smile on my face.

And so are you a professional voice actress after all ? Did you work on other projects that are not related to the franchise?

Technically yes, I’m a semi-professional voice actress, I have done one or two small jobs outside the Tomb Raider community such as telephone menus, and I do have a profile on voices.com so I can totally be hired.

The only reason I did not pursue it as a full time career is because of energy. Since I was 13, I’ve had a chronic illness capitalized EDS; it’s a genetic disorder involving my tissues, and sometimes I have to take a lot of painkillers to the point of being stunned, and I have very little energy, so because of this, I don’t have the physical strength to make it a full time career as I would like to..  Maybe one day though, and as of now, I’m getting accreditation to be a freelance copy editor and proofreader because I can do this from home, we’ll see how it goes!

Finally, this last fact is another reason why I really like to use my voice for fans, because it is such a positive thing and it motivates me a lot, even with a headache, because I can get to take a microphone and take this role, with that I can have a great load of fun, and even some self-confidence which I believe is essential.
So I can definitely say that Lara Croft and the Tomb Raider community brought me an awful lot of joy and good memories, allowing me to connect with incredibly creative and kind people from all over the world that I would have otherwise never known.

Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. I’m looking forward to speaking with you again!

It was my pleasure, thanks again!

Our team wishes Jennifer Milward good luck on her adventures! If you want to know more about her work, consider visiting her website and check out her audiobook on her YouTube channel. You can follow Jennifer on Twitter.