3 min read

Women’s History Month – Voice Talent for AYA Characters

Women’s History Month – Voice Talent for AYA Characters

AYA Features the Voice Talents of Dynamic Chickasaw Women


Anyone familiar with AYA will know that each walking partner has a story to tell, and as a user walks, their story is unlocked in chapters. Depending on your preference, you can read the text of these chapters or listen to an audio recording. What the average AYA user might not know is that each recorded episode was brought to life by the voice talents of Chickasaw citizens.


AYA features the voice talents of many talented Chickasaw women, including Monica Peoples, Amy Darnell, Cameron Mitchell, Kelly Adcock, Sara Massengale, Donna Courtney, LaDonna Brown and Chickasaw elder Virginia Puller Bolen. These dynamic Chickasaw women have lent their talents to AYA, brought our characters to life and helped us understand Chickasaw life throughout history.


"I hope young girls or women who want to join law enforcement can be inspired.  There is not much representation of female police officers, especially a Native female police officer.  It is the small things like this that help pave the way for more representation."

Officer Kaelee Langley

Kaelee Langley

Female Walking Partners Help Us Understand Chickasaw Life

Akanowa was one of the first AYA walking partners released into the app and was voiced by Chickasaw elder Virginia Puller Bolen. Akanowa is a revered grandmother from the 1500s, living in the Chickasaw Homeland and full of ideas about the future of her people. The chapters in her story paint a narrative of hope and reverence for traditions, but they also give AYA users a look into Chickasaw life in the early 16th century.


Talowa’s character was inspired by interviews with three Chickasaw Lighthorse officers, Sara Massengale, Kaelee Langley and Sharon Wostal. Her story was recorded by officer Massengale, and her character illustrations were based on officer Langley. Her story weaves in the experiences and musings of all three officers and touches on the legacy of her Chickasaw Lighthorse ancestors. 


More recently, AYA was blessed to share the story of Te Ata, the renowned Chickasaw storyteller. Te Ata’s story is based on a real person, a departure from the previous line of walking partners. As you walk with Te Ata, you learn how she developed an early love of oral tradition, how she became a storyteller and how she sought to portray First American life with accuracy and respect. This story was recorded by Chickasaw storyteller Donna Courtney.



Dynamic Voice Talent Makes AYA Characters Shine

AYA’s walking partners are brought to life in a professional recording studio, but before the studio comes into play, each role must have the right vocal talent. This process involves an audition followed by voice coaching and — if needed — help from the Chickasaw Nation Language Preservation Department for sections that include the Chikashshanompaꞌ, the Chickasaw language.


In the studio, all the talent read from a carefully researched script, but each person brings their own experience into the process. When Virginia Puller Bolen recorded the Chickasaw dialog in Akanowa’s story, she often did so in one take. The fluid way she spoke Chikashshanompaꞌ was a marvel to hear, and in between episodes she would often recount amusing stories from her past — clear signs of her wisdom and humor. 


When officer Massengale recorded Talowa’s story, she spoke about all the intricate details and facts of her life with confidence. The part of Talowa’s story that described her strong will and determination as a child came from Massengale’s interview. In this way, it was easy to see how her experiences as an officer directly impacted her performance of Talowa.


Similarly, Donna Courtney not only brought her experience as a performer into the recording booth, but she incorporated her own storytelling practices during preparation. On her script, she marked out — or scored — all of Te Ata’s lines, indicating which parts to say with a smile, which parts should have an upward or downward inflection of the voice and the sections that needed big or small energy.


Sara Massengale


Experience the Amazing Talent of These Chickasaw Women


To experience the vibrant voices of these talented women, join us on AYA Walk. If you are not an AYA user, download the app and start walking with us today. If you are already an AYA user, be sure you are getting the most out of your fitness journey with us by using all the features in the app. You can learn about all AYA’s features and answer questions about how the app works by visiting AYAWalk.com.


Be sure to subscribe to our newsletter to stay updated with the latest additions and features on the app and exciting challenges within the AYA community. Be part of a growing network of individuals dedicated to their fitness journey and exploring Chickasaw culture.


Make your fitness journey more successful by walking every day with AYA.  


Anowa chipisala'cho (until we meet again),

Your AYA Team


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