Valorant’s Phoenix voice actor explains why the character is so important for representation

Valorant_Phoenix_voice-actor_interview_Afolabi_AlliRiot Games, Dexerto

One of the original cast of Agents, Phoenix has become Valorant’s poster child, and players love the Londoner’s sassy sense of humor. We caught up with the Agent’s voice actor, Afolabi Alli, to chat about all things Future Earth.

When we think of Valorant, many fans conjure the same image: Phoenix or Jett. The two characters have become synonymous with Riot’s flagship FPS, plastered on much of the promotional art.

One thing that makes Phoenix so lovable, is that cheeky sense of humor. Afolabi Alli, the voice actor behind the English rebel, told us about the part he plays in the Valorant world.

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From Shakespeare to Valorant

Afolabi_Alli_Phoenix_Voice_Actor_InterviewTrisha Ward
Afolabi’s acting roots trace back to Shakespeare.

While Future Earth has become Afolabi’s home, his origins are a little bit different from the explosive chaos of the Valorant universe.

Noting that his acting career was inspired by discussions during his school years, he told Dexerto: “I was lucky enough to bag a job – I worked at the Royal Shakespeare company for a bit and was there touring the country. From that, I also managed to get a voice agent and was doing voice work on the side.”

It’s this voice work that attracted Riot’s attention. “We went out for this random tape, and didn’t know what it was for – Project X as they called it – and then next minute I’m doing a callback, then they’re like ‘can you come and just have some fun and play around with the director over in L.A.'”

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“For me, that was the highlight. I was like ‘oh, wow, I’m meeting someone over in the States.’ So that’s how it happened for me. It was just a case of being drip fed and going in deeper and deeper to the point where you’re like ‘oh, yeah, we’re working on a job!'”

Valorant, however, became much more than just a job.

Phoenix on playing as Phoenix

Phoenix in Valorant Duelists trailer.Riot Games
“Let me show you how the boss does it.”

If there’s one thing we all wanted to know, it’s whether or not Afolabi actually plays Valorant and, if so, whether or not the firey Duelist is his Agent of choice. “It’s weird, like I’ve played it and I’m not as good as I thought I’d be! It’s hard! I’ve only played as Phoenix, I going to play again as some other characters, but it’s kinda weird.”

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“Hearing your voice and being like ‘oh!’ I remember I was playing it a while ago and you really see how the director gets into the world.”

He reiterated that “it’s hard,” but what isn’t hard is picturing Afolabi as Phoenix even despite that iconic South London accent.

An inspiration for new generations

Valorant_Phoenix_voice_actor_interviewRiot Games
Phoenix is more than just a character to Afolabi.

With both Afolabi and Phoenix there’s an overwhelming sense of genuineness that perfectly intertwines both virtual and real-life characters.

“Growing up I’ve never heard a character that sounds like me in a game. So it’s nice to voice it, and the fact that Valorant are giving that aspect of lack of representation a platform is nice. You see so many people reach out like ‘oh my gosh it’s so good to actually see someone that maybe looks like me or sounds like me’ and so many people like ‘how do I get into voice acting.'”

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“It’s really interesting because the conversations are a bit different to like ‘I really enjoy the gameplay’ or ‘this is really cool but I don’t necessarily see me in it.’ Even when I’m playing the game I’m like that’s so weird because growing up it would always be American. Y’know when you’re playing San Andreas or games growing up they’re all American accents but really specific.”

Concluding that he’s ‘very blessed to be able to do this,’ it’s safe to say that Phoenix and Afolabi given young people a character that’s not only relatable, but inspirational.

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“Let me show you how the boss does it”

After speaking with him, it’s clear that Afolabi was the perfect fit for this role – he’s definitely the reason our favorite Duelist has so much charisma.

So while many of us might never be able to ‘skrattt’ just like Phoenix, we can’t wait to see what the future looks like for Afolabi – both on and off of Future Earth.