Voice Actor Erica Lindbeck: Riot Cares So Much!

Talking League of Legends Voice Acting with the Voice of Taliyah, Erica Lindbeck

Taliyah will be surfing into League of Legends with the next patch some time in the next couple of weeks, but fans psyched for The Stoneweaver can already check out her voice-over on the PBE. We chatted with Taliyah’s voice actor Erica Lindbeck over the phone and online about Taliyah, working with Riot, and the voice-over (or “VO”) business. Erica gave us an inside scoop on the champion design process, and the unique challenges of being Taliyah!

 

For players who aren’t familiar with you or your work, who are you?

Hi! My name is Erica Lindbeck, I do voice-over full-time, professionally. I started doing anime and videogames, and now I’ve now I’ve started getting into more animation. The thing that I’m most known for is probably that I do the voice for Barbie.

I really love videogames, but honestly I don’t play League of Legends. It would just consume my whole life if I tried to start playing it! I love anime, and I love videogames, and that’s kind-of how the path started.

Cool! So how did you first encounter Taliyah? What was it like auditioning for this part?

My agent sent me– they had me sign an NDA, and said “hey, do you want to go audition for this project?” Most of the time when I audition I just record in my house, but this one was at an actual studio. So I signed the NDA, and I got the script, and I had no idea what it was for. I got there, and I realized it was with Riot, and I was like “OK! This is for League of Legends!”

When I got to the audition, the script said that it needed an accent. I don’t remember when I got the original script, but that hadn’t said that she had an accent, so I was completely unprepared. But I said, you know, I’ll do my best. When I walked in and said “hi everybody,” casting liked my voice and asked me to use my natural voice for the audition.

Cut to a few weeks later: I heard that I booked the part, and I was really excited. I think it was in November, and we did a preliminary session. We were still trying takes with and without accents, and they were still trying to find the character. Then a few months later I came back in, and they said “OK, so her character has changed.” You know, they go through iterations; I think every champ goes through different iterations. It felt like a collaboration. They were just throwing all this stuff at me, and she was evolving as we were working on her, which I thought was really cool.

How do you feel about the character?

I love her! I think she is so cool. I think she’s interesting because she’s young, and she’s got that naivete, but she’s also very strong willed (and not in a naive way!) You know, I’m having trouble describing her– I actually had a lot of trouble with her at first! She was a very challenging character for me. She’s definitely got her head on straight, but she doesn’t know everything. She’s inexperienced and young, but she has a wisdom not typical of girls her age. So that was an interesting choice, in terms of how to say the things she needs to say.

I love her look. I know there’s been a lot of weird controversy over how she looks. You know, she’s not your typical female League champ, and I think that’s really cool. I love that they’re covering all bases– Daniel Klein did a little interview on Kotaku about it. Most people were really receptive, but I guess some people were like, “oh man, she’s not what I want,” or, “wow, ugly champ,” or whatever. I just thought that was really funny, because I think she just represents a different standard of beauty, that’s maybe better recognized in other countries. I like that she’s not a stereotypical League champ, and I like that they’re addressing that.

You were saying that you felt initially like she was a difficult character, so what was your approach? How did you get yourself into character?

I think all you can do is try to put yourself in their shoes. Her lore, all the stuff that happened to her really hit me hard. I can relate to the idea of losing your family, or losing your homeland, or being betrayed by somebody. That’s some powerful, basic stuff.

A big thing was trying not to sound too old, while maintaining that wisdom and intelligence that Taliyah possesses. Because she’s, what, 15? She’s wise, but she’s looking at the world through this youth. She’s learning, she wants to learn everything. Sometimes she’s put in situations that she’s not necessarily equipped to handle, but she feels like she has to handle them. She’s like, “I can’t do this. I must do this.”

I noticed, listening to the voice over lines, there’s a ton about learning. There’s also a lot of fun references. Do you have a favorite line?

Oh my gosh. What is it? “Sedimentary, my dear Malphite.” I don’t know! I love her voice lines with Yasuo, because Yasuo is her mentor. I know she has some beef with the Noxians.

Right

You know, if you were to ask me about Assassins Creed 2 or Bioshock, I’d be able to talk about this stuff all day! I do have some friends who have voice League Champs! Jason Wishnov, who voices Nocturne, I’m sitting on his couch right now! Jinx, Sarah Williams, was my roommate for a year. So a lot of us are friends with each other. I know Cassandra Lee Morris, who voices Nami, and Laura Post, who voices Ahri, is one of my good friends. It’s like we all know each other! Sarah was so excited when she found out I booked League of Legends! It’s really fun, the writing is really good.

Are you sure you don’t play? You seem pretty well versed with the game!

No! I’m not! I mean, I know League of Legends; when I was in college it was all anybody played. I’m really into the lore! You know Jhin? I love Jhin’s VO, and his theme song. And Kindred, and the Wolf? Before I even booked League of Legends I was  like obsessed with Kindred, and their lore and their VO. I love how much effort they put into their champs now. It’s really exciting. I’ve never had that many sessions, to really just make it perfect. They care. They care so much! If there’s one thing I can say about Riot, it’s that they are so passionate about what they do. They care so much about what they’re putting out.

That was my next question! What was it like working with Riot?

It was amazing. Oh my gosh, there was this one time I went in, and I was touring Riot and it was the one place I could talk about it. Everyone was working on Taliyah at that point, and I came in and was introduced, “this is the voice of Taliyah,” and they were like, “oh, we want to take you back!” You know, into one of the secret rooms, but they couldn’t because it just wasn’t allowed. So somebody went back and got the entire Taliyah team, and they came out and met me. I turned, and I saw all these people walking towards me with these smiles on their faces! It was so fricken’ cool. They were in a meeting, and it was a Friday night, and they were like “we just put your VO in!” Everyone was just fabulous. I can say nothing but amazing things about the Riot team.

Awesome! So besides voicing Taliyah, what projects are you working on these days?

I’m working on more anime. I’ve done things like Sword Art Online and Love Live! Most recently, I did this series called Your Lie in April. I play Kaori Miyazono. It was really funny, I was looking at the Riot forums and on Reddit, and there were these comments, “oh, this is the same girl who plays Eli in Love Live!” Or, “this is the girl who plays Kaori!”

I do a lot of videogames, but a lot of the stuff I’m in hasn’t been announced. You know, the bigger videogames take like three years to come out. There are projects I recorded last year that I’m still unable to talk about. But I do a lot of videogame work; I was in Danganronpa, I do a lot of JRPG type stuff. I’m constantly doing Barbie stuff, and I just did some work on The Division.

Cool, so people will have to wait and see what other projects you’ve worked on.

I am doing some really cool videogame stuff though! I just want to say: cool videogame stuff. There is this one game I did, it’s a new MOBA. I did one of the launch characters, and I can’t wait until they put my VO in and announce it so that I can talk about it!

 

For more Taliyah news and updates, check out the News page on Blog of Legends!