Laura Bailey Was Nominated In The Game Awards For Whitewashing


Naughty Dog definitely sucks more for orchestrating the whole thing and putting her in the position of showing up to work and finding out she was going to be playing a role for a Black woman if she continued.

The industry sucked for being able to keep roles that secret from people, or being able to work on concepting them until the last minute. Hopefully that’s gonna change.

But all the work with her coach on the accent was for the audition. That’s (unfortunately) unpaid and part of the job. She had maybe signed a contract but she probably hadn’t done any paid work for ND when she showed up on her first day to see Nadine’s design. At that point she hadn’t done the acting work, she could have turned it down and only been out the hours of training and travel to the studio.

The possible PR restrictions is a great point, though.


Let’s be clear on the timeline - unless there’s any real evidence to even suggest that they’re flat-out lying about this, they’ve been very clear that the decision to make the character black was made after all the voice and mocap work had been done. It’s not a question of ‘continuing’ at that point.

And once again, I’ll ask this - after that work was done the two available alternatives were to make the character black, or to make them white to match the actor. Does anyone really benefit from the developers thinking “We can’t make them black, we’ll look racist?”



“We just gonna put different textures on” is, arguably, worse. Humans are not costumes and all that.

It’s also like putting white woman instead of Asian man in that “Magic Mike 3”* movie. We have to make those types of choices now? How about: developer, do your job better and from the start!


* – “Doctor Strange”


The best thing to do from a diversity perspective would be for Naughty Dog to have their character designs down earlier in the process so they can cast accordingly.

They didn’t do that, and we should hold them to it.

The problem here for me isn’t so much with how the character was designed, but that this was a missed opportunity to cast a person of colour in a major voice acting role in one of the biggest games of last year.


You don’t have to complicate the issue here. What they did is bad, how much – I don’t care, really.

But if you want to complicate it, how about this:

But here they just left it. Why?

Also, we have virtual character on one hand and black woman who didn’t get that job on the other. Which is more important?

Edit: Also, let’s not forget that it is important to yell at “Awards” too. With game itself, you can kinda see some logic behind it, but why on Earth would you nominate Laura here?! Avoid it at all costs!


Yes, just as I said upthread “Now, arguably they should have got their design nailed down before casting and have avoided the whole situation, but they didn’t”.

So, given that they hadn’t done that, the choice is to make the character black, as they did, or make the character white to match the actor. We can all imagine a better situation, but “I wouldn’t start from here” isn’t terribly helpful.

I’m not, I’m making it very simple. The acting is all done, the choice is then to make the character black, or to make her white. Which is better?


Throw it all away and recast. As they already did.

Edit: Leaving character white would have been disappointing, but whitewashing is insulting. It’s culture appropriation, plain and simple.


I just want to chime in here and say that these arguments sound awfully similar to the ones I heard back in the 90s about Apu on The Simpsons. So what if he’s a walking stereotype voiced by a white dude? I should just be happy that brown people are represented on TV!

Sometimes no diversity is better than pandering, token diversity.


I thought I firmly knew where I stood on this, but then I watched a couple of Bob’s Burgers episodes last night, and I remembered that only one of the three main female characters in that show is voiced by a woman. Historically there’s been tons of gender bending in voice acting, particularly among child characters (Bart Simpson voiced by Nancy Cartwright, Bobby Hill by Pamela Adlon). When it comes to voices of color, I remember being shocked when I was a kid when I found out Samurai Jack was voiced by Phil Lamarr.

Is all that problematic? Are comedic cartoons different than video game voice acting? Is the line more blurry because the characters are portrayed realistically and there’s mocap involved?


You bring up a fair point, however, I do think power dynamics with regards to marginalized groups needs to be taken into consideration. Bob’s Burgers has always felt a bit problematic in using males to voice female characters, but there’s also been a longstanding tradition in animation for characters to be voiced by actors of different genders, as you mention. Samurai Jack’s case is a bit different, although it’s mitigated by an actor from a marginalized background doing the (minimal!) voicework for a white presenting character.

Contrast that with the video game industry, where there’s been longstanding issues of representation both onscreen and behind the scenes. Plus the fact that Naughty Dog has been particularly tone deaf in their representation of PoCs throughout the Uncharted series, and it’s much harder to give them a pass for this. It’s a nuanced subject and the line between acceptable and unacceptable is blurry, but in this case it feels pretty cut and dry to me.


That’s a perfectly respectable view, and I’m not sure I’d even disagree with it.

But I think it’s important to engage with reality as it actually happened, not condemn them for casting a white actor for a black role, which isn’t something that actually happened. It also seems unfair to condemn the actor for accepting a black role since it wasn’t one when they accepted it, or to suggest she should be excluded from awards for her performance on the basis of a decision someone else took about character design after she’d already given the performance.


Wow. I don’t think I can disagree more if I try. It’s shitty situation, through and through, and now we should praise people for it? Fuck no.

Again, don’t take away the agency. Laura maybe didn’t knew about that this specific situation would happen, but she well knew about Chun-Li. Just listen. She clearly understands that she is voicing a Chinese woman. She is totally OK with whitewashing.


I’ll make the distinction that I never criticized Laura Bailey for this whole fiasco. While she certainly could have been a better ally and pushed back against the ethnicity change, I understand the precarious nature of her work makes that difficult.

That said, I do absolutely condemn Naughty Dog and the VGAs for their actions. Naughty Dog in particular has had a decade now of awful representation of PoCs in their games. Consistently they have shown PoCs as criminals that must be gunned down by the thousands at the hands of white Nathan Drake. And now, finally with them having a protagonist who is unambiguously a PoC, and they use a white actor to play her. Whatever the decision process that made that happen, the end result is a bad look.

And shame on the VGAs for rewarding such behavior with a nomination, especially in a year with such excellent performances.


I think there’s something strange and troubling that people are deciding that this situation is Laura Bailey’s fault in a year when the actor’s union literally went on strike in part because the games industry is so secretive with its talent that the talent has no idea who they are playing when they perform. Laura Bailey is the person in this situation with the least power.

We have it on record that when she recorded the role, Chloe was not Black.

Would I be happier if Bailey declined the award nomination? Yes, absolutely. Would I be happier if she was more outspoken about her discomfort with the role? Yes, absolutely. Is it possible that Bailey’s contract required her to praise the game at PR events? Yes. It’s actually quite likely.

I ask again, are people seriously suggesting that after months of work, when Naughty Dog made the character Black, Bailey’s response should have been to return her pay and step out of the project? Something that would have almost certainly have brought down tremendous contractual penalties upon her and probably tanked her career?

I’m unhappy with basically everybody in this situation but this shit is also a prime example of why the Actor’s union needs more power (and why I won’t buy strikebuster games)


No, we should praise the voice and motion acting performance if the voice and motion acting performance is praiseworthy.

The later choices made by the character designer does not reach backwards in time and affect the quality of the work the actor did. The quality of the performance itself, and the achievement of the performer, is fixed once the performance has been given.


Are you suggesting that I should leave my politics out of your video games? I don’t think you mean that, but it sounds very similar.

It’s not that hard to create an excuse, after excuse, after excuse – there is always someone else to blame – while huge systemic issue is still there. I’m just getting angry at people who do that in this thread, which I don’t want to do. So, I’m out.


Not to dump on Laura Bailey too much here, but can we make the distinction that she could only claim ignorance at the release of Uncharted 4? What she is being nominated for is The Lost Legacy, a work that came out over a year after Uncharted 4, and I find it hard to believe that Bailey wouldn’t have known Nadine’s ethnicity while working on it. Perhaps she was already committed to the project from her original contract, but her going along with it a second time around makes me less sympathetic.


Voice acting, at least from the outside looking in, is a weird profession.

I wonder how much of this is sort of a culturally historical thing, where famous voice actors were known and praised for the breadth of their voice. Someone like Mel Blanc is revered for being both a great performer and for having so many distinct voices. Watching Looney Toons as a kid, I never imagined that the entire thing was just Mel Blanc talking to himself the whole time. This carries through with lots of famous voice actors as well, the famous ones that get tons of work are generally chameleons that blend in with tons of different roles that you would never know unless you were told.

I think stuff like this has to be taken on a case by case basis. This situation is weird because the actor wasn’t aware in advance, but also took the role a second time around presumably by choice. You also have situations like Futurama where the main black and Asian cast are played by black and Asian actors, but at the same time you’ve got Billy West and John Dimaggio playing Leo Wong and Barbados Slim. Is that better because they’re just bit parts played by actors already on hire? I honestly don’t know.


Y’all keep using the word “whitewashing”. Whitewashing is taking a character and breaking from canon to make them white in-universe. This isn’t whitewashing – the closest thing is to say it’s the VA equivalent of blackface. Two different manifestations of the same underlying problem.


No, I’m suggesting you avoid complaints that violate causality. If the sequence of events went:

  • ND announces that their new character, Nadine, is black,
  • then ND announces they’ve cast a white actor

then I’d be totally on board.

But that’s not what happened. Neither the wisdom of the casting decision, nor the quality of the performance, are affected by a decision that happened afterwards.

If someone casts Kevin Spacey in a new movie today, I’m going to have a problem with it. But I’m not going to condemn everyone who cast him in movies in the past when they didn’t know what we all know now.

On a separate point:

The thing there is that Lost Legacy was originally supposed to be Uncharted 4 DLC, and we know it’s existence was planned from the beginning because it was included in the U4 Season Pass. It is inconceivable that anyone with a plan to make a game and DLC would contract their actors just for the game, and not the DLC as well. There’s no point here at which the actor would have had an out.