The Dark Pictures Anthology: Man Of Medan required some talented actors to bring the story to life. TheGamer got the opportunity to speak with one of these actors, Ayisha Issa, who played the ship captain Fliss, about the process of making Man Of Medan as well as working as a performer in the video game industry.
How did you get started as an actress?
I kind of fell into it actually. I was trying to get a career going as a model when I was a teenager and it wasn’t really working out as I was too athletically built and it wasn’t a good fit. When I left that behind I had started training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and around that time I got a phone call from someone who was in the modeling world. He left a message on my answering machine saying there was this really big movie filming in Montreal with all these big names like Henry Cavill and Mickey Rourke. I almost didn’t go, I thought it was probably a scam because I wasn’t formally trained as an actor and I wasn’t looking to get into that so it didn’t make any sense as to why they would call me and ask me to audition for this. But I ended up going, it was right after I had competed in my first Jiu-Jitsu tournament and I ended up landing that role. That was for Immortals.
How did you get involved with Brazillian Jiu-Jitsu?
Well I started out around the same time as I started acting. I started training because I needed an outlet, I needed something that was going to keep me in shape. Going and lifting weights was not going to cut it, I do not working out at all I’m like the biggest baby when it comes to having to do traditional workouts. So I thought kickboxing sounds like fun, I feel like hitting some things. So I started with a woman’s kickboxing class, and after that class was a Jiu-Jitsu class which was like an MMA class. What I like about it is that it’s like a puzzle, we call it human class because it’s a game of my skillset versus your skillset. You could almost liken it to these card games where you battle with each other, I don’t know what you call them.
Like Magic: The Gathering?
Yes, like, Magic, and things like that exactly. The entire match is based on these elaborate exchanges back and forth. I got really caught up in that cerebral aspect of the sport. As I was filming Immortals I got permission to go out and compete at the world championships for the first time. I went out with my team and I won as a white belt, which is like the first level. In 2014 I got an opportunity to train in time to go do Worlds [IBJJF World Championships] and I competed as a blue belt and I was able to pull out a win again. After that I moved to Toronto with my boyfriend, and we opened our own martial arts academy out there.
So you have your athletic career, your acting career, and recently you’ve performed in games like Far Cry: Primal and Man Of Medan. How did you get started in the video game industry?
It’s funny, I’ve auditioned for Ubisoft since the beginning of my career. They’ve brought me in for so many different projects and I’ve auditioned for them so many times. I didn’t even realize it until the last time I was in there and they showed me audition tapes from almost ten years ago! So Far Cry: Primal was the first one I booked and that’s actually one of the reasons I ended up moving to Toronto. I was out there for the entire summer and we did everything from performance capture to movement training with Terry Notary who is known for Avatar and Planet Of The Apes. Then we had language coaching with Brenna and Andrew [Bird] who developed a language called Proto Indo-European if I’m not mistaken. This came with a dictionary and we had to take classes with them and learn the language. Then I did a little bit of work on Assassin’s Creed [Origins]. I did a lot of the female characters for that, so you see a lot of my movement in pretty much all the female characters in that game, or at least a lot of them. I also did a little bit for For Honor. Not a lot, I think it was actually part of the demo. It was just movement, I think I was one of the female Vikings. Then there was Man Of Medan, which was so, so cool.
What was your relationship with video games prior to working on them?
I bought a PS4 to play Until Dawn because I was super excited about that. Prior to that, I grew up with a Super Nintendo, that was like my thing growing up. I was obsessed with Super Mario World but I’m really not a good gamer, I might be the worst gamer of all time. I was considering setting up a Twitch account just so if someone was having a bad day they could come laugh at me trying to play like a super simple game built for a five year old and fail miserably. I’m really not good at it, and I admire people who are because I wish I could play games. I don’t know if it’s like a patience thing, I’m not sure what it is. There was one I liked playing, I think it was called Clank and Ratchet.
Ratchet & Clank?
Ratchet & Clank! I like playing Ratchet & Clank but then I got stuck and I was like I don’t know where to begin finding a solution to this. You know what I mean? And so that’s just sitting there and I open it from time to time thinking I failed miserably at this game as well and I’m not even that far into it (laughs). So I’m not good at video games but I wish that I was though.
I can relate, when I get frustrated I just cheat my way through games.
You see maybe that’s the attitude I need to take. Like it’s fine just cheat your way through it, have fun, and don’t worry about it too much. But how do you do that, do you just google it?
Oh yeah, just google a walkthrough and it’ll tell you where to go.
Ok, yeah, I’m totally going to do that. That might actually really help me get back into this.
So how did you go about playing the character of Fliss? What was your connection to her?
Well, I liked the fact that she was a very strong and independent person. And I could relate to her having money problems, I got that, like trying to figure out a way to make ends meet and do it by yourself. I could also relate to the fact that she has a lot of respect for her job, for her environment and she likes to do things properly. I liked she didn’t feel the need to filter herself, like what you see is what you get. But at the same time there’s a kind of laidback-ness to her as well, and that comes through with the kind of lifestyle she’s chosen and the way she speaks to her clients sometimes as well. I don’t obviously have a French accent when I speak but the character does. I’m from Montreal originally so I’ve been around the language and have a lot of French-speaking friends. Trying to keep and maintain that accent after being around it all time, I was hyper-critical of myself when it came to the accent. It was an interesting project because we did the facial capture and the voice, but the body and the motion capture, if you see the footage of us in the videos as we’re filming, we’re not wearing mo-cap suits because they’re not capturing our bodies. So there was another person who was dealing with the whole body performance.
So you only did facial motion capture for Man Of Medan?
Yeah, we did face motion capture and voice. Then they have an entire other team that they did the body performances with. I had never heard of that being done before but it was so seamless. I was, well I don’t want to say I was skeptical because I played Until Dawn and it was amazing, so I knew they knew what they were doing. I didn’t realize there were so many ways they could build games like this.
Have you played through Man Of Medan?
I have played through Man Of Medan, and I thought I it was really cool and a lot of fun. When I played Until Dawn I found myself getting super freaked out because I didn’t know what was coming. And this was interesting because I was listening for things that we have worked through obviously, so the experience is really, really different when you’ve worked on something rather than something you have no connection to. You enjoy them very differently, right? So I feel like the way that I play games and watch movies and shows that I’m in is completely different than the way other people do, which is normal. It gets analytical, critical, I’m looking for technical things.
How did Fliss do in your playthrough?
Oh Fliss died (laughs).
Ok, final question, if you could choose, what would be your dream video game role?
I want to play a Far Cry villain. I would want her to be straight-laced, but like one of those dominant personalities. High heels, lipstick, but with a lot of mind games. A dangerous person that you would never know what she’s thinking. A real evil lady.
Hopefully, we'll get to see Ayisha as a sadistic criminal mastermind sometime in the future. We'd like to thank Ayisha for taking the time out of her busy schedule to talk with us here at TheGamer. You can play The Dark Pictures Anthology: Man Of Medan right now to see her performance as Fliss, and you can catch her in the upcoming medical drama series Transplant.