The CONQuest Festival last 2 to 4 June was packed. While the event had a ton of issues, one could not deny the passion of all the fans lined up by the booths to see their favourite streamers, voice actors, cosplayers, and other personalities.
Each of these personalities greeted their fans with a huge smile. But, even in line, it was hard not to notice one of them who seemed more animated than the others. Despite the venue being so crammed with people, he had the energy to smile for the camera and talk to the fans lined up in his booth.
In front was a con-goer in an elaborate, accurate cosplay of the 4-star character Gorou from Genshin Impact. Cory Yee, the English voice actor of Gorou, raised both his arms and exclaimed in excitement as he welcomed the cosplayer.
After all, it wasn’t common for someone to cosplay as Gorou, compared to more popular characters like the Raiden Shogun, Nahida, Hu Tao, and others.
When Yee was asked to speak his favourite line in Genshin Impact, he quickly thought about it before saying “Everyone on me!”
When Yahoo Gaming SEA spoke to Cory again on the second day, we noticed that he exuded a similar vibe to Gorou, a character known for always striving to help others. In our conversation, he shared a lot of insight about his voice acting journey and some advice for aspiring voice actors.
What made you want to become a voice actor?
Cory Yee: When I was really young, there were cartoons like Animaniacs and amazing actors, but I found out that, oh, the voice of Yakko and Pinky on Animaniacs, it's the same guy. That inspired me.
And that told me that there was a person who did that, and that always inspired me.
And honestly, I went to film school for cinematography and stuff, but then eventually, that just wasn't fulfilling for me, and I knew I needed to change something.
So I just really did the work, and I went to learn and do all that. That's how I was able to meet the right people that took chances on me and gave me opportunities. And I'm thankful to those people to this day.
How did you end up with your role as Gorou?
Cory Yee: I actually got recommended for NPCs, which are non-playable characters and that's how I started in Genshin. And I got to know the director and the people that work on the project, and it was always just, “Maybe, there will be a part for Cory one day. Who knows?”
But I just kept auditioning and trying to do that, and eventually, the right role came along, and Gorou ended up being the character that was the right one for me.
Being both an NPC and a playable character in the game, how are you able to portray such a diverse range of characters?
Cory Yee: Honestly, those roles don’t always have casting, right? It’s like, “We got a 20-something-year-old guy, he's a dad, and he's got a drinking problem, and what does that sound like?”
And you just try your best to bring in that thing. The biggest part of voice acting is staying loose and improv[ising] and just rolling with it because that’s what we do all the time.
Maybe one day you’re going to be the low-voiced narrator in To Your Eternity. But then I also got to fill in for all these soldier guys too, because soldier number one needs to be voiced, so you just have to be loose.
We kind of just work with our directors, and they help us so much with the creative process, too.
Which voice acting portrayal is your favourite in Genshin Impact?
Cory Yee: It’s honestly very hard to pick because, honestly, I love my cast members, they’re so good, and they’re incredible. But if I had to just choose one, I’ll say that Keith Silverstein’s Zhongli is such a commanding character.
So effortlessly while having gravitas mixed with calming emotions. And I aspire and am inspired by Keith personally to just be a better actor and be awesome.
What’s your favourite thing about Gorou?
Cory Yee: My favourite thing about Gorou is what eventually we found out was, like, his biggest factor, and that was he's young and a little bit inexperienced, though he has seen a lot, and he's responsible for so many people, he doesn't always know what to do.
But he freely admits that he's going to be like, “I may not have the right answer, I may not have the answer to the questions that you've got, but I'm going to try my best to help you,” because that's the core of his heart.
And that's what I love the most, is that wholesome attitude of just trying to do the best you can, and I think we can all relate [to] that.
If you had the chance to voice another Genshin character, who would it be and why?
Cory Yee: I don't know if I can answer that one, just because I would never dream of taking a job from someone else. But a Zhongli-type of character or just some Hydro husbando. That's what I want.
Do you have any advice for people who also want to be a voice actor, especially in Southeast Asia?
Acting, acting, acting. It's all about acting first, voice second. Obviously, we use our voices to manipulate the way it feels and sounds and all that, but it's all down to acting, making active choices and understanding why characters would say something instead of just what they sound like.
That's the most important thing for anyone. It's [being an] actor first, and all those voices, they'll come to you, but it all comes from a root of authenticity and really being that character.
Cory Yee has been voice acting since 2012 for various TV series, shows, and video games like Destiny 2 and Ghostwire Tokyo, among others.
He is currently most known as the voice of Gorou in Genshin Impact and breathing life into The Beholder from To Your Eternity and Hermes from Record of Ragnarok.
Anna is a freelance writer and photographer. She is a gamer who loves RPGs and platformers, and is a League of Legends geek. She's also a food enthusiast who loves a good cup of black coffee.