Black Voice Actors in Some of Your Favorite Games.
Or at least, in my favorite games.
By: L. Sahara McGirt
When it comes to video games, it is no wonder that gamers get interested and attached to the voice talent behind the characters, especially in games with big stories and loads of memorable characters to interact with. Whether the characters are playable or non-playable, great voice actors imbue personality into the characters they're playing.
Many of my favorite games include a wide range of voice-acted characters that I come to care about or enjoy listening to in conversations as I interact with them. Recently while researching the voice actors behind the characters in my favorite games, I noticed there wasn't enough celebration of the Black voice talent behind some of them.
With that in mind, I put together a list celebrating ten amazing Black voice actors that play characters that I either found iconic or who happen to voice some of my favorite video game characters. Most of the talent in this list are from games I play repeatedly. The characters they give voice to are ones that I have a long time attachment to as their voices are an intrinsic part of the worlds and stories I often return to playing in.
Erica Luttrell - Empress Emily Kaldwin
Other voice credits of Erica Luttrell include Bangalore in Apex Legends and Sapphire in Steven Universe. As the voice of Emily Kaldwin in Dishonored 2, Erica Luttrell brings players the well-done performance of the strong-willed, clever, and vengeful young empress. If chosen as the player's protagonist, players become privy to Emily's often spoken aloud thoughts, much of which is inquisitive, observant, and at moments without mercy as Emily muses over taking control back over Dunwall and rescuing her father.
You were smart when you stole this place from me. You knew who among my people to corrupt, and your took away my strongest ally, my father. But you didn't know me. You only saw a sheltered princess. You never thought I'd fight back. You didn't know me, Delilah, but you will.
Chantel Riley - Layla Hassan
Layla Hassan is often a controversial character in the Assassin's Creed games as the modern-day protagonist of Origins, Odyssey, and Valhalla. Impulsive, brash, and prone to outbursts of paranoia and anger as she suffers the Bleeding Effect in later games, Layla grows from a character eager to work for Abstergo into one that bucks their authority. Chantel Riley makes Layla's eagerness, anger, and later nihilistic devolution feel believable over the course of the games.
Rosario Dawson - Billie Lurk
Meagan Foster, aka Billie Lurk, is the protagonist of Dishonored: Death of the Outsider. In the previous Dishonored 2 game, Meagan Foster was the ally of Corvo and Emily as they sought out their revenge, but it turns out she was harboring a secret that affects both of those characters. The recognizable voice of Rosario Dawson tells us at the beginning of the Death of the Outsider:
Sometimes mercy cuts deeper than any knife, now I know that forgiving is something you do for yourself as much as for the people who hurt you.
Kimberly Brooks - Gunner Chief Ashley Williams
Gunner Chief Ashley Williams is one of the two characters you can choose to save or let die in the first Mass Effect game. Personally, I choose to save Ashley over Kaiden nearly every time because Kimberly Brooks does a voice performance for Ashley that makes her the more intriguing of the options to keep around. Williams goes from distrustful of the alien companions on the Normandy in ME1 to skeptical of Shepard in ME2 and ME3. She questions Shepard's motives often and believably so, making her the kind of character that keeps Shepard on their toes.
Lennie James - Lord Shaxx
You might recognize British actor Lennie James as Morgan from The Walking Dead. As the voice of Lord Shaxx in Destiny and Destiny 2, James' voice pumps players up before matches in Destiny's PVP arena, the Crucible. As a frequent Destiny player, I end up spending a lot of my time playing in the Crucible to hear Lord Shaxx tell me how awesome I am at defeating my opponents, but also that I can live to fight another day if I lose.
Stand tall, Guardian. This battle is lost, but there will be others.
Phil LaMarr - Green Lantern/Aquaman
As a teen, I adored Phil LaMarr's turn as Green Lantern in the Justice League animated series. To hear him take on the part of John Stewart again in the Injustice games was something that pleased my inner teen to no end. There is nothing like hearing Phil LaMarr taunt opponents right before a fight in his deep baritone voice.
Really? I thought losing was your thing.
Gina Torres - Ikora Rey
I wish that Bungie would give Ikora Rey a more significant role in the Destiny games. Actress Gina Torres has a soothing voice. Consider this a plea to Bungie; please give Ikora Rey more to do in a future DLC. Sometimes I stop by her on the Tower to hear her talk, even if she is saying the same things over and over again. Seeing Ikora Rey stand in the tower with little going on feels like a waste of a character that could be potentially more interesting.
Cree Summer - Magma
Canadian actress Cree Summer has voiced more than 250 characters across games, animated films, and Television. You might have heard her voice if you've ever seen Rugrats or The Loud House, depending on your generation of animated television consumption.
As the voice of Alison Crestmere in X-Men Legends, Cree Summer gives voice to a young, new X-Man who is only just getting a grasp on the full depth of her power. When players meet Alison Crestmere, her fear is evident as she loses control of her powers. Alison's curiosity at the X-Men and excitement in the Danger Room are all the more believable through Cree Summer's voice performance.
Now I'm really ready to fire it up!
Lance Reddick - Commander Zavala
I might play Destiny 2 often, which is why there are so many Destiny characters on this list. Lance Reddick lends his commanding vocals to Commander Zavala as the Titan Vanguard of the Tower. Zavala easily carries the air of a strong leader, one that players are willing to complete missions for. Or at least I am.
Every second we waste in idleness is a second lost to Darkness.
Keith David - Captain Anderson/Keith David
Keith David as Keith David in Saints Row IV has to be one of the greatest moments I have ever experienced in gaming. In Saints Row and Saints Row 2, Keith David also voiced Julius Little, who briefly returned in Saints Row IV. Characters comment on the similarities between Keith David and Julius Little in a running meta-joke throughout the game. The joke goes further with Keith David being part of a running parody in Saints Row IV in which the gang ends up in space, and Saints Row pokes at the space opera genre, and at moments, Mass Effect throughout the rest of the game.
As Captain Anderson, players of Mass Effect experience a much more serious character voiced by Keith David. The inspirational Captain Anderson is one players will never forget as he initially encourages Shepard to take on the role of Spectre in ME1, then later stays behind to take on the Reapers in battle on Earth in ME3.
It's a fight we can't win. Not without help. We need every species, and all their ships to even have a chance at defeating the Reapers. Talk to the Council. Convince them to help us.
This is in no way a comprehensive list of Black voice actors, though the actors included play multiple characters across many video games. Who are some Black voice actors you're familiar with that were not included in this list? Let us know either below or on social media.
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