‘Dislyte’ Voice Actress Aimee Smith Issues Apology After English Industry Colleagues Attack Her For Accepting The Role Of A Non-White Character
White voice actress Aimee Smith has apologized after coming under fire for accepting the role of the non-white Ain in 'Dislyte'.
In the English voice acting industry, there has been a growing demand from activists for ‘authentic casting’ – or race-based casting – in animation, particularly in regards to black characters being portrayed by similarly-skinned actors.
And in pursuit of this goal, such viewers often take to attacking any white voice actor who is cast in a role any darker than actual snow, as they believe them to be ‘stealing’ a given role from a minority demographic.
The latest victim of this race-based obsession was English-language voice actress Aimee Smith.
Perhaps best known as the voice of Freedom Planet 2’s Milla Basset, Smith came under fire after publicly announcing that she had been cast in the Chinese gacha game Dislyte as both the Japanese esper Yuuhime and the Egyptian esper Ain.
“I’m so excited to share that I voice BOTH Izanami and Ain in the latest @dislyte Sea of Sorrow event!” she announced on May 2nd. “So honoured to have now voiced five espers in #Dislyte, whaaaa!”
Similar to Netflix’s Queen Cleopatra, thanks to her Egyptian ethnicity, many actvists have taken to claiming that not only is Ain a black character, but that Smith is a racist for having taken the role.
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However, rather than the typical mob of terminally online social media users (though they were present in the discourse as well), Smith received the most flack from several of her industry colleagues.
Amongst the industry critics included Atlas Talent English Voice Actor rep Joshua David King who inquired if Smith was given Ain’s character art? That the white voice actress knew she was auditioning for a black character?
“Did u see the character art before booking?” questioned Genshin Impact voice actor Joshua David King.”That is very clearly a black character so I thought I’d ask.”
Likewise, industry audio engineer Eliana Zebro – whose credits include serving as the dialogue editor for such video games as Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak and Strangers in Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin – pressed Smith, “Came on Twitter & saw this in my For You! Correct me if I’m wrong, but is Ain a person of color?”
“Looking over at Ain’s announcement on Dislyte’s Twitter, there seems to folks happy about Ain being another great POC character in the game,” she passive aggressively added. “So, I’m quite confused.”
“A warning to vas, don’t do this. It will never be worth the booking,” wrote Michelle Rojas, the voice of Shion in That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime. “This casting director didn’t care, but many do, and it doesn’t go unnoticed. We have to have trust in our actors, and this is a red flag.”
Replying to Rojas, industry casting director Samantha Morrison not only voiced her agreement, but also chastised her for not rejecting the role the moment she saw that Ain had darker skin than herself.
“Even assuming there was no reference art in the original audition, as soon as VA saw the character, they should’ve said ‘No, I don’t feel comfortable voicing a POC,'” said Morrison. “THAT’S IT! This whole ‘do whatever it takes to make it!’ mentality is going to kill careers before they even start.”
In the wake of this backlash, Smith returned to her Twitter account the day after her initial announcement to apologize for taking the role.
“I wish I had a better excuse, but I don’t,” the voice actress began. “I f–ked up. But if I can sincerely wish for one thing, I hope it can be seen not as a malicious screw-up, but seen as an ‘I make mistakes and can be f–king dense sometimes’ kind of screw up.”
“What hurts is I really do try my best to do the right thing when it comes to authentic casting, it’s something I believe in, so to have this oversight in my auditions is an incredibly hard thing to swallow,” she continued. “I had a thought process behind what I was seeing in this audition casting call, but it was clearly wrong. I’m really sorry.”
“This has made me realize I do need to be much more vigilant with the choice of rather to submit or not to submit with certain auditions moving forward,” Smith then acknowledged. “Sometimes the answer is as clear as day and it’s an easy ‘yes’ or ‘no’, whereas with some other auditions I’ll admit on a personal level I’ve found it difficult to navigate.
“As voice actors, I completely recognize there’s an ownership on us to make the right judgement calls, and I just need to refine mine just much more,” she ultimately attempted to assure her critics as she drew her apology to a close. “I’m really sorry to those I’ve let down and for not supporting my fellow voice actors as much as I could be. I promise to be better.”
Three days later, Smith would return to the topic to reiterate how “I believe in more representative casting, I recognise I made a poor judgement call, I’m deeply sorry to those I’ve let down, [and] I’m still learning.”
“In my heart, I know all four things to be true simultaneously and none negate the others,” she said. “
There is no perfect set of words, but I know that my values that have always been there will strengthen and will work to put so much more good back into the industry. Thank you to those who took the time to approach this issue with kindness and to my peers who have checked in x”.
As of writing, it is unclear whether Smith will continue to voice Ain or if a more physically similar voice actress will replace her in the role.