The Reality in 2D: Harassment of Voice Actors

Chinese voice actress Guiniang restricts her chat due to an onslaught of hate and threats after a character she voiced was received poorly by the community.

Viewer of one of Guiniang's streams.

Chinese voice actress Guiniang restricts her chat due to an onslaught of hate and threats after a character she voiced was received poorly by the community.

It’s not unusual for livestream chats to fly by faster than interpretable, most viewers only managing a fragment of understanding in regards to the dozens of conversations happening simultaneously. However, this wasn’t the case for a series of livestreams by Guiniang (龟娘) as her chat was composed entirely by an onslaught of uniform hatred, snuffing out any semblance of casual conversation.

Guiniang is a Chinese voice actress who’s known best for her work in Kimetsu no Yaiba, Boku no Hero Academia, and most recently, Genshin Impact, where she voices the character Sangonomiya Kokomi.

Photo Credit: Twitter, @airzach/Zach Aguilar

The initial fanfare for Kokomi’s debut was nothing in comparison to the massive tidal wave of disappointment and hatered that followed the character’s official release due to skills that left the community unsatisfied.

Following this, a stream Guiniang held was swarmed by people holding her accountable for the character’s combat weaknesses, despite Guiniang having no part in the character’s creation. Harassment, insults, and threats deluged her stream – so much so that she had to limit who could speak in her chat with a mass-member mute.

Photo Credit: Twitter, @laura_stahl/Laura Stahl

“We’re normal people with jobs that we do our best on,” tweeted Zach Aguilar, another voice actor for Genshin Impact. He’s voiced dozens of popular characters in the past, such as Tanjiro Kamado in Kimetsu no Yaiba. “I know the voice actors are the ones in the public eye a lot of the time – but there’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes out of our control.”

Laura Stahl, known best for her role in The Promised Neverland, was bashed after announcing that she’d be voicing Mami Nanami in the anime Rent-A-Girlfriend – a character greatly despised by the community.

Due to this role, Stahl received private messages and public “call-out” posts where she was relentlessly insulted.

And much like how Guiniang and Laura Stahl have been attacked, many other voice actors receive a similar treatment because of their presentation or identity.

“I have been fortunate to avoid most negativity and harassment on social media, but I think many others have it much worse,” stated Cory Yee, a voice actor who’s best known for his role in Genshin Impact as Gorou. “I’ve seen my peers face all sorts of harassment on social media, and it baffles me constantly. Many women, feminine presenting, or feminine of center people get harassed more than I do by a long shot.”

Occasionally, the harassment even leaks beyond the screen, threatening the lives of people simply doing their jobs.

Photo courtesy Shoutout LA/Stephanie Southerland -
Photo Credit: Shoutout LA/Stephanie Southerland

“There was a certain project that I was working on, and a fan who was unhappy with the direction that the story was going actually went into the headquarters with a weapon and had to be escorted off by the police because they were putting people in the company in danger,” said Stephanie Southerland, known for her roles in Fire Emblem Heroes and Genshin Impact as Jean. “It’s just scary thinking that people get that attached to things and feel that kind of ownership over something.”

Cory Headshot Main.JPG
Photo Credit: Yee

Despite all of the harassment or bullying voice actors receive, voice actors always find ways to not only enjoy their jobs, but also the communities that continue to support them.

“In this particularly uncertain time, people turn to the arts for escapism or to see or play as a character who may embody something they want in their lives. It’s always an honor to be able to tell a story that people want to experience,” said Yee.

During the global pandemic, social media sites like TikTok and Twitter saw a huge rise in popularity, and connections between voice actors and their audiences grew prevalent.

Photo Credit: Twitter, @TheGriffinBurns/Griffin Burns

“The fan engagement brings me back to my childhood days and being imaginative and fearless,” stated Griffin Burns, a voice actor most known for his work in Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure as Doppio and Genshin Impact as Tartaglia. He has a significant following on his TikTok and Twitter and has become an icon of the communities he’s worked for. “I’ve gotten so much support for my antics that I feel like I’m able to be my authentic, goofy self, and it’s pretty liberating,”

Sean Chiplock
Photo Credit: Chiplock

Sean Chiplock, known best for his work in Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure and his upcoming role in Marvel’s Avengers, is another voice actor who often interacts with his audience.

“Part of the reason I look forward to conventions so much is because it was one of the easiest ways to show everyone who visits me that despite me being ‘a celebrity’, I am hardly any different from them.”

While interactions between voice actors and fandoms can be heartwarming, the issue of harassment still stands as a topic that needs to be addressed and resolved. The discretion between the online world and real life seems to become blurrier every day, the wariness of the differences between voice actors and their characters still being an unknown for people who choose to harass these creators.

“These are wonderful worlds that we get to be a part of as voice actors, and it’s wonderful to be able to escape reality, but you still have to keep that head on your shoulders and know what is real and what is a pretend world,” stated Southerland.