Chinese Canadian actor Lily Gao has clapped back at the “racist and sexist” critics who bashed her portrayal of Asian American spy Ada Wong in the 2023 game remake of “Resident Evil 4.”
In an Instagram post on Monday, Gao wrote that she is grateful to have had the opportunity to voice the iconic character, who made her first appearance in the 1998 PlayStation game “Resident Evil 2.”
“Being the first Asian actor to portray Ada in the Resident Evil video games is an honor,” she wrote. “And I will forever be grateful to our producer and director, for making the decision on authentic representation.”
“It’s unfortunate that with the game’s release, also came the all too familiar feeling of ‘I don’t belong,'” she continued. “While criticism is expected, it’s not the first time an actor of color faces racist and sexist harassment, for simply participating. Inauthentic casting perpetuates an unhealthy image that further dehumanizes the community they seek to reflect.”
“It is time we stop only capitalizing on the sexualized, eroticized, and mysterious Asian woman, and make space to honor every kind of Asian woman. My Ada is a survivor. She is kind, just, intelligent, and funny. She is unpredictable, resilient, and absolutely not a stereotype,” she concluded.
In addition to her message, Gao shared some photos of the Asian women she took inspiration from to portray Ada Wong, such as Shu Qi (2015’s “The Assassin”), Faye Wong (1994’s “Chungking Express”) and Maggie Cheung (1996’s “Irma Vep”).
The controversy reportedly started in as far back as late 2022 when “Resident Evil” fans heard that Jolene Andersen, the voice actor for Ada Wong in 2019’s “Resident Evil 2” remake, would not be reprising her role in the “Resident Evil 4” remake.
The backlash escalated after the video game’s release on March 24 when angry fans began criticizing and harassing Gao for her portrayal of Ada Wong, the same character she played in the poorly received 2021 movie “Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City.”
Before the game’s release, Gao reportedly posted about her “Resident Evil 4” role on Instagram. Currently, her Instagram profile only has two posts.
Several fans argued that Gao’s portrayal of Ada Wong fell flat in comparison to how other actors have portrayed her in the past.
They claimed that Wong, who is known to be playful and charismatic, comes across as more succinct and grounded in the “Resident Evil 4” remake.
Many of Gao’s critics also focused on her race, arguing that
a person’s race should not be a deciding factor when choosing a voice actor for a fictional character.
Despite the backlash, several people have rallied behind Gao in support, including Nicholas Apostolides, the English voice actor of “Resident Evil” character Leon S. Kennedy.
Speaking to The Gamer, Apostolides revealed that he has talked with Gao about the controversy and that he has also faced backlash himself in the past.
I told her that first of all you can’t take it personally. Anytime you’re taking on the role of a beloved character, people will have their opinions. If people aren’t happy, those will be the loudest voices. It’s not that you don’t have support, it’s just the ones who really need to make their voices heard online are the Twitter trolls, and they will make you understand that they don’t like you.