Samantha Skinner Compositor's blog

Portal fans dream come true! With Ellen Mclain

February 6, 2012 / by Samantha

(My interview link with Chris Pope, Ellen McLain, and John Patrick Lowrie from Ellen’s site here to skip my write up )

Back in November one morning I was sitting out on my patio drinking a tea and talking to my mom. I was updating her on topics we usually discuss in the morning. One of my primary topics was the news that Ellen Mclain, the voice actress of GLaDOS from Portal, was nominated for an award at the 2011 VGA’s! Me being such a huge Portal fan, my mom is always well informed on these types of things.  We were both really excited for Ellen. She was nominated for best performance by a human female.

As my mom and I talked back and forth about this, I ended up mentioning the topic “I should write her a letter….or better yet…make her a video”. To be honest, I have always wanted to write Ellen but for some strange reason, never had. I even said the video part somewhat jokingly to my mom. My mom loved the idea and she was the one who pushed me to do it. Little did I know what would come of this little video….

So I got completely inspired!

I started planing the type of video, what to wear, all the funny things to say, etc. I mainly wanted to congratulate her on her nomination, and to thank her for all the inspiration she has caused me (I will get into that later). I planned on posting it to my youtube channel and to pretty much try to see if I could actually get Ellen to see it (which I never really thought was going to happen). I don’t really have views on my channel, or subscribers but I did not let that stop me.

So I started. I got my phone (since it records 1080P) and literally rubber banded it to my tripod and started recording from scratch. Which ended up being a horrible idea… lol. I was nervous about saying the right things, looking good on the camera, not going off track, etc. I probably recorded my self 20 different times no exaggeration. It took me hours and I was really starting to get down on my self.

I eventually gave up. I got mad and thought “this won’t work…this is not at all interesting, none the less something she would want to watch”. I sat for a few minutes at my desk in silence then walked out to my mom to get some advice. She told me to think about it then maybe try again tomorrow. But I was determined to get it done THAT DAY.

So I did. Only instead, I ended up doing a voice recording. I am definitely more comfortable knowing no one can see me. I can just talk and edit if I say something I don’t like. After I got what I wanted to say down (congratulating her on the nomination, talking about how much she inspire me and more), I then had to think of what she would maybe want to look at as she watched this video. I ended up taking a bunch of pictures from my costumes, photoshop, and 3D modeling and making a slideshow in after effects.

Once it was all rendered out and re-watched about 50 times, I finally gave it the OK and uploaded it to Youtube. That is…after I added one piece from my video footage I did like. There was a clip in there of most of my Portal collectable items from toys, to posters etc. I thought maybe Ellen (or other youtube viewers) would get a kick out of it.

After the video was successfully added-and now live- on youtube on the 27th (you can watch below or click here ) I became very self conscious and nervous about it. But I was more concerned with getting her to watch it since the VGA’s were coming up soon.

I ended up basically using every social media service out there to try to link it to her. I was a little worried I might come across too persistent-like I was bothering her, and I definitely did not want that, but I kept doing what I was doing.

I linked it to her on her twitter one day, her Facebook another, and finally even an email through her website which I think was the winner due to timing.

I waited a few days.. Everything was quiet…until.. finally I got an email back!

It was from Chris Pope, her publicist.

He and I started writing back and forth for a few days and we set up an interview date. I really have to give him a huge shout out for this opportunity. Once I received his email about a Skype interview, I was ecstatic! I remember thinking: “Ellen’s publicist wants to interview me? wooooow!” I remember reading one of his emails specifically talking about the stuff we would talk about in the interview:

Hey Samantha,

What I plan to talk to you about is fandom. Specifically fandom involving valve’s Portal series and of course, Ellen.

I get insane amounts of fan mail to go through all week log for Ellen, as you can imagine it can get tedious at times. Part of what I do for my clients like Ellen is sort through mail involving  fans, trolls, and spam. Ellen gets ….  Lots of fan made videos, lots of fan made audio, pictures, you name it, I’ve probably seen it/heard it lol.

Anyway, rarely do I come across a fan as genuine as you. … You are very well spoken, you came across extremely genuine, you left yourself so vulnerable, like your heart and feelings are there for the world to see even though you were truly speaking to Ellen. I was touched at your efforts honestly.

For awhile now I’ve been deeply blessed to work with and talk daily with some of the most incredible, unique, famous … people from movies, video games, tv, theatre, you name it. I’d forgotten what it was like to be a hardcore fan of something/someone.

You reminded me…

I feel you represent the essence of what it means to be a true fan, one willing to put herself out there without fear of ridicule or self doubt. Many probably have the urge to do what you did, but few have the gumption or guts to do it. This is truly why I wanted to talk to you. To give Ellens fan base a glimpse of the passion that some of you deeply posses.

I want to talk to you about some of what you said during the video. About how the GLaDOS character speaks to you as a fan. Why portal excites you. What it is about Ellen’s portrayal of GLaDOS that appeals to you.


That email made my morning. I literally read it at 5:30 AM when I was up for work. Not only did it make me feel even more excited for the interview, it also made me feel appreciated-that my effort was seen and heard loud and clear. I could not wait for the interview date to come to be able to talk to Chris about what I love- Portal. And of course, Ellen Mclain. And knowing that Ellen will or has already seen my video.

So soon after I began preparing for the interview, Chris asked me to write down 3 questions I would like to possibly have answered by Ellen Mclain and I jumped at the opportunity. Only now I was not only mentally preparing for the interview, I was also thinking of the perfect questions to ask her. I did my best to try and ask her questions that she has not been asked before.

These are the questions I came up with:

Question 1-
What was Ellen’s initial carrer choice?
in other words, did she originally set out to be a voice actress/singer? Or did she have other goals?
Question 2-
how did she start voice acting? The actual process that went into it, and what was her inspiration?
I was always interested in voice acting, but never knew what actually went with it and how.
Question 3-
Are you actually involved with/familiar with the story of Portal? (maybe more now than in Portal 1 days?) Instead of maybe just doing the gig-knowing the story and getting involved- for example the relationship between GlaDOS and Caroline.

Obviously she was asked 2 of these before, but the thing was- I wanted to hear them for my self; I wanted to hear her tell me or read the answers.

So after I sent off those questions, the count down began and I started to wait for the 10th of December and 9:00 PM. There was really nothing for me to prepare for…I had no idea the actual questions he was going to ask me, all I could do was wait.

Eventually that day came and I re-played through Portal 1 and 2 for good measure, along with a few other games. My mom was supper excited for me as well and she was prepared to be extra quiet when the time came. We have dogs and cats, so I did not want to end up getting distracted by hearing one of them.

 You can listen to the interview here and also read about it.

The interview went really well. I was extremely nervous! But I loved every minute of it. I was supper surprised when ELLEN MCLAIN JOINED IN THE CONVERSATION!! (and so did her husband John Patrick Lowrie!!!!!)

I could not believe it!!! I almost died! (In a good way of course) Chris was bringing up the questions I wanted to have Ellen answer. I had NO idea he had plans for her to actually join in and answer them! I was flabbergasted and so happy that I got to talk to her! I was definitely speechless, too. Then she got John to pop in which just made it better-everyone needs to hear non-teamfortress 2 material say to them in a non specific Aussie accent…>:D (Team fortress 2 joke- if you don’t play the game, sorry)

I am still so grateful for that opportunity. I urge readers to listen to it. If you want,  you can skip ahead to when Ellen joins in which is I think about half an hour in. It was definitely a lot of fun.


And yes. Ellen and John watched my video.

And! Ellen won the award at the VGA’s!

Thank you guys!!

and Congrats Ellen!!


If you do listen, or have listened to the interview, you will remember or will hear Ellen and Chris mention Momocon 2012. I have made plans and arrangements, and I am definitely going there and spending it with Ellen Mclain! I am a cosplayer and you can fined me on Deviant art here (I a not on it much these days) – I will be cosplaying as Chell, maybe the Sniper, or even Zoey. I may even debut a Caroline cosplay.

I will definitely post more about this on days to come, and after the convention for sure here when I return.


Thank you for reading my very first, and possibly most epic and important blog posts. I need to give a HUGE thanks to Chris Pope for EVERYTHING he has done for me. And I want to thank Ellen and John again for taking time to talk with me and for watching my video. That made my…life lol.

thank you (:




5 thoughts on “Portal fans dream come true! With Ellen Mclain

  1. Pingback: Portal fans dream come true! With Ellen Mclain | Ellen McLain

  2. Ellen Lowrie says:

    You are wonderful Samantha!
    Ellen McLain

  3. Alex Syros says:

    What a fantastic story! Well done, Samantha! You, guys, are such an inspiration!

  4. Cody says:

    Hi, I do think this is a great blog. I stumbledupon it 😉 I will come back yet again
    since I book-marked it. Money and freedom is the greatest way to change, may you be rich and continue to help others.

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