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In celebration of Pride Month 2024


Voicing Queerness:

authentic casting and queer storytelling in games


Throughout, ‘queer’ and ‘queerness’ are used as umbrella terms to encompass various facets of LGBTQIA+ identity and their associations. There are, of course, many intricacies and intersectionalities inherent to one’s identity and this discussion, but for ease, we often chose to speak in terms of queerness. Thank you, and please enjoy!

In this conversation are Eliza “Zee” Andrews and Elizabeth Plant.

Zee (she/her) is a British voice actor and motion-capture artist, with many years of experience performing both male and female characters with joy. Primarily drawn toward animation and video games, she can be heard as Moonstrike in indie animation series My Pride,  Bella Ruby in Amazon Games’ New World,  Grace in Throughline Games’ Forgotlings, and soon as Winter Sims in Systems Studios’ visual-novel, Body.



Elizabeth (she/her) is Glowmade’s community manager, as well as a professional voice actor and writer-director for videogame and audio-drama. She’s a fierce advocate for authenticity in casting and representation, particularly when it comes to queer identity and Disability. Her BA dissertation unravelled the use of voice in videogames as a means to break down emotional barriers between fiction and reality, and nothing excites her more than the chance to talk so deeply about storytelling.




What does authenticity mean to you?


Well, in terms of authentic casting, it’s about getting the right demographic and the best of its talent to play the role.

So, you’ve got your Danish Girl  syndrome with Eddie Redmayne, and things like that. I mean, I get it… but they could’ve potentially sought trans talent. It’s making the effort when you’re telling these stories, and being sure you’ve got the right people to be telling them, too. That’s what I think authenticity in the arts means to me.

I think The Danish Girl  is the example I go to quite a lot – bit of a poster child for trans discussion in entertainment, for some. It’s a conversation I have often, as a person and as an actor, where it’s very biased toward, “Oh, but you’re an actor, it’s acting – you should understand all that.” And, as you say, I get it… but also wouldn’t it be nice if it wasn’t just Eddie Redmayne wearing makeup and ‘acting femme’? Nothing against him, he’s a phenomenal performer, but he’s not… the one, here.

Exactly. And of course Eddie is  a trans ally, he’s spoken out against J.K.Rowling and more, but the problem is much more with the industry than it ever will be with an actor.

But I do love that there’s more stories nowadays being written by, and with the sensitivity of trans people in mind. You know, with your Transparent, Orange Is the New Black, Pose, etc. The growth in storytelling between 2015 – when Danish Girl came out – and now, is amazing.

Oh, was it that long ago? Don’t tell me that, nooo…

[Laughs] Not actually  that long, but yes! What an evolution, at least.


Have you met your own character in the game(s) you voiced?


I haven’t yet! I just haven’t really had the time for gaming! And also because my Mac just can’t handle most things… [Laughs]

Ooh, that’s your first issue, right there. You could fry an egg on one of those things just trying to open a tab…

Honestly! Although I have actually encountered my voice in the wild in other ways, which is fun. Like, I just recorded a few spots for Gaydio, promoting Sparkle Weekend in Manchester! I did one for them last year, for Pride in London, so it was really cool for me and my mum to go on the radio – like calling in – and just listen out for my voice! It wasn’t a huge deal, in the grand scheme, but it still felt really affirming that I was doing something  for a queer network, and to celebrate queer people. And to have my mum cheering for me, that was amazing.

What do you wish would be done more when it comes to creating queer stories in games?


I’ve actually been thinking about this example for the past couple of days. I’m not going to name the project, because honestly I do still want to be in this game, but… the game seems to very strongly be priding itself – no pun intended – on its inclusion of characters that all have a queer label of some kind. So they’re either genderfluid, nonbinary, or they’re bisexual, lesbian, gay – which is great! But the problem is that hardly any of the voice actors prescribe to any queer labels; or even if they do, they don’t prescribe to the queer labels that they are representing. And I think it’s quite interesting, considering this project has quite a fan-base, that it’s not being spoken about in terms of not-so-actually-authentic casting.

A lot of the voice actors are in quite popular independent stuff, so I think it’s become a case where it’s more about optics as opposed to authenticity. So I think that’s kind of bringing it down for me a little bit, but I just wish that sort of thing would be addressed more.

We’re in this time where authenticity does matter, and representation and equal opportunities matter. And I just wish that that could be honoured more than points, you know?

I suppose that’s a conversation to be had, on its own, is… an actor not necessarily prescribing to the exact  identity of a character, but to part  of it. Say, for instance, oftentimes it’ll be stipulated in a casting call that “any kind of queer or LGBT actor may apply,” even though the character is specifically aro-ace, or specifically bisexual, etc.

Mmhmm, I see that wording used almost everywhere. Like, “Queer actors encouraged to apply” or “Queer actors only for this role,” but it doesn’t seem to matter  what the exact identity of the character is, in the same way as the actor’s?

Right. Like, how wide of a net actually works? Do you specifically want an actor that identifies as ace to play an asexual character, or can a pansexual actor play them? What degrees of authenticity are we seeking, project by project – as it seems to be?

It’s really difficult to say. And not to throw any shade, but these actors in the game I mentioned do seem to have a lot of overlap with each other on different projects. Which isn’t necessarily a red flag, they’re clearly talented – but when we go back to the idea of optics and queerness, there’s loads of LGBTQ+ talent out there. Some of them may be up-and-coming, or may not have the best recording set-ups, but they exist and they should be given the same treatment and opportunities as more well-known artists.

It’s a bit like the Hollywood problem in microcosm, there. Where, rather than casting for talent and specific voice training like the first few eras of animation and radio, it’s become all a bit of a carousel for celebrities to ‘cosplay being a voice actor’ and be hit-or-miss on delivering something that sticks with you. Meanwhile, queer projects are sticking with the same well-known queer artists rather than branching out with opportunities to experiment with and uplift newer voice actors.

Exactly that. And we need to actually address things like that. Not necessarily call them out with hate or ill intent, but because optics aren’t everything – especially if your project and your characters’ queerness is something that you pride yourself on. If the key element of your work is that it’s queer, it has to actually be queer – and in the right ways.

What are your thoughts on inauthentic casting?


Well, there’s a lot of nuance behind it. Again, with The Danish Girl, obviously if they did cast an MTF actor, it would be more accurate and arguably more compelling because of that realism.

But with voice, you tend to get Black actors playing White characters, and adult women playing young boys, so there’s slightly more grey area when it comes to casting – because of that lack of a true visual representation.

It’s a bit of a tricky one to point to a right or wrong. One thing I tend to tell my agents is, “Don’t just put me forward for trans roles. Put me down for everything.” And I think it all bleeds into getting the best actor for the role, but I think there’s a lot of discussion to have around it. When it does come to the ‘best voice,’ though, why shouldn’t it be that we got the best voice from the actors who actually identify with the character?

I think when the identity of the character is quite a big thing, that’s when you should most heavily look into truly authentic castings. If you’ve a trans character, and you’ve cast a non-trans actor – and quite a big proponent of the character is their background, their experiences – their actor’s not necessarily going to connect with that.

Even if you got someone like me, for example, playing a cis female character – I have the experience of living as a woman. But a cis woman doesn’t have the experience of living as a trans  woman.

At the end of the day, I get it. Showbusiness is a business. You gotta make decisions, you gotta cut corners, do what you can to make the project thrive. But it should be more of a last resort to not cast authentically, wherever you can. Even if all the actors who auditioned on a call for a certain type of character weren’t great, you should still cast the best of those specific kind of actors.

What on a casting call motivates you to audition for a game?


Honestly, more logistically, if it means that I don’t have to put too much pressure on my own voice. If the voice notes indicate something close to my normal voice, or it’s something that I can try new, it feels like a very strong comfort zone. I’ve had quite a bit of positive feedback on accents from my American coaches, for instance, but I’d still prefer not to have to strain or warp my performance to be exactly what a call is asking for accent- or tone-wise.

I like to try things that will challenge me, but also I’m more confident I’m gonna nail it if it’s in my natural range. Especially with trans roles – where I’ve got more of a horse in this race, so to speak – it does depend what they’re looking for, but also why should my voice have to completely align with that? My performance should matter more than what the voice specifically sounds like, I believe.


What should writers & directors strive to do when representing queerness, or working with queer actors?


If you know you’re going to tell a story with queer elements, of any scale, hit the ground running speaking to queer people and queer artists. Invite them to collaborate with you.

I think a lot of discourse comes from paving the path to Hell with good intentions, accidentally digging your own grave with thinking you’re representing queerness well, when you’ve probably only talked to one trans person.

For example, recently, in the 60th Doctor Who specials, there’s a little bit of cringiness to come from the trans representation. I do think Yasmin Finney does a really good job, but in my opinion the show ended up representing it quite… synthetically. It just makes me wonder if Russell T Davies actually did any research…? [Laughs]

So I do think research and collaboration are key, and something anyone should always strive to do with representing different groups of people.

You definitely need to have more than just the one gay on your shoulder, too, like a little angel and devil situation; you need a whole flock of gays running around, telling you what’s what. Because there is  so much nuance in the LGBT community and its identities. So much so it’s even turned into a joke, like, “Oh, they keep adding letters, I can’t keep up!”

But it’s so true that you really do need to get that variety of stories in order to inform and implement the one  that you’re trying to tell.

Exactly. Because, in the nicest way, it can come across as a bit mansplain-y when you try to tell a queer story without approaching the demographic, and doing your focus groups or sensitivity readings. You need  to look into it.

A lot can also be directed by the audience that you’re trying to appeal to. Because if you are writing a queer story for a queer audience, you can afford to be much more nuanced – I think. Or you can be more creative with it, because it’s easier for people to latch onto the experiences being shared.

Whereas if, say for Doctor Who, you’re trying to tell a story that has transness to the masses of Great Britain, you have to be a lot more sanitised. You sort of have to spell it out for them, and hold their hand through the story, otherwise you’ll get some massive outcry of how confusing or unnecessary story beats were, and it sets queerness back as this continual ‘unknown’ that is apparently so scary…

Do you have a favourite moment from working on a queer game?


I think it has to be playing Bella Ruby for New World, specifically when recording her at SIDE studio. There was just a really good vibe inside the booth, and in the studio. Also the live direction – I’ve never actually been live-directed before!

Oh, wow! So that must’ve been crazy, for your first time!

Oh, yeah, it was insane – but it was definitely what I needed! It was amazing. It just felt so good  to actually do proper character work with that kind of direction; trying different things and seeing what we could do within the hour. Super fulfilling, and I’m so happy with how she turned out.

She’s a quest giver, so she plays a really big part in some side content, and it was just really exciting to think about how players would receive her and enjoy her, and to really get into that nitty gritty of how to make her real!


Lastly, is there anything you want to say to your fellow queer voice actors this Pride Month?


Don’t sell yourself short. Like I say, I tell my agents not to just put me up for trans roles. We’re so much more than that. So put yourself forward for everything. Expand your range, expand your USP.

Be yourself, and just keep doing what you love! Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do what you want! Just be the best bloody voice actor you can be!