Rainbow Six Siege Voice Actor, Carl Bishop, Speaks About His Experience Being LGBTQ+ In The Industry
“As you can probably tell, I read straight. So, if you met me on the street, you’d probably assume I’m straight,” Carl Bishop, the voice actor behind Rainbow Six Siege’s Bandit tells me. “Initially, that helped in the world of advertising, because it was definitely more of a ‘man’s world.’ When I got signed by my agent in New York in 2006, it was still probably 20 to 30 percent straight women and 70 percent straight men. So, I had to express myself like I was straight. That wasn’t a problem on the voice side of things, but getting my head into the space of a straight person was the challenge.”
Bishop’s known for a long time that he’s gay, and this has created an extra barrier for him in the acting industry. Though he makes it clear that he’s confident in his abilities, having to navigate into a different mindset before recording was often a challenge for him. He explains how many of the commercials he’d have to record were focused on sports, cars, and fast food—all of which were geared towards a young, male audience. “I’d go to these auditions and be sitting here with all these bros, because they’re my colleagues, and they’ve all got girlfriends and wives. And while they live and breathe this content, I couldn’t care less about sports, trucks, and fast food. I’m thinking, ‘Oh god, how do I put myself in their minds?’ So, the challenge was that I had this extra step to take.”
Luckily, the part of Bandit was in some ways significantly easier than some of Bishop’s past commercial roles. Despite Bandit being Bishop’s first role as a video game character, Bishop found it much easier to see himself in Bandit than one of those guys in the sports commercials. “I have a dark side, too,” he says. “I can brood. I would consider myself stoic and able to take some hits. So, I was able to draw on those things for this role.”
Unlike the mental hoops Bishop had to jump through to get into the mindset of a straight man for sports commercials, recording for Bandit came with drastically different challenges. “It turned out to be intense because you’re yelling, and it’s a very technical session, because you have to speak every line in three levels of intimacy. For example, one level would be as if I’m speaking to you right here, huddled behind a desk, and we’re about to break in on someone and surprise them. Another level would be if we were in the same room, but across the room from each other. The third level would be if there’s a battle going on, and we have to yell to each other. So, it can be grueling. But I have a knack for making slight adjustments as I go, so it was more intense than it was difficult.”
The contrast between the two types of roles that Bishop has experienced perfectly highlights some of the battles that LGBTQ+ members have to face in this industry that others may not. As I listened to Bishop discuss his role as Bandit, the focus was on the technical challenges in voice acting, which voice actors will call attention to frequently in interviews. But this was such a stark difference from what he’d gone through with his other roles that it became apparent just how much extra work goes into having to portray someone you cannot identify with.
Luckily, it seems the industry has been making strides to be more inclusive of LGBTQ+ members and to be mindful of how LGBTQ+ members are being portrayed in the media. “I would say the video game industry is more inclusive of LGBTQ+ members,” Bishop explains. “When I looked for more roles recently, I saw that they’re asking for women, transgender, and non-binary character voices from actual women, transgender, and non-binary folk. I was really encouraged and happy about that. And in the gaming industry, you’re seeing a lot more game designers that are women too, which is something the whole gaming world used to be against. So, there’s clearly a huge switch, and it seemed to happen quickly. Even in the regular commercial voiceover world, you’re starting to see casting specs asking for more queer voices, women voices, and voices from people of color. So, it seems like the future is wide open for LGBTQ+ voice actors.”
It’s incredibly encouraging to read a response like this from someone who’s been in the industry for a while. With the recent catastrophe in which E3’s online portal automatically resorted to him/his pronouns, I wasn’t totally convinced that this community as a whole was moving in the right direction. As it turns out, it seems that sometimes it’s too easy to let the negativity drown out the many positive changes that are being implemented.
This became especially clear to me when Bishop expressed what the voice acting scene used to be like when he’d first started recording. “I had no intention of voice acting right off the bat. But now, people just decide they want to be a voice actor while they’re young. No one would have ever thought of that as a possible career back in the ‘90s. Back then, it was usually just this backwater of stage actors who didn’t want to go on stage anymore. So, there were maybe ten men in New York and ten men in LA that would do everything. There weren’t many women, mostly just old white men. I was younger back then when I was getting into it, and being that young was almost breaking the rules.”
The encouraging part of this is that Bishop makes it quite clear that even the voice acting industry looks entirely different today. While it seemingly used to be made up of a few men who’d given up on their dreams, Bishop felt strongly about ending the interview by offering advice to LGBTQ+ members who are interested in voice acting. “They can take an approach that a guy like me couldn’t imagine back then. Whatever you’re doing, or however you love to act, just throw it up on Tik Tok or YouTube and experiment with stuff to see what works for you, because you might invent something that isn’t even around yet. Just be creative. I would also advise them to get a commercial agent. Everyone is so much more open to LGBTQ+ members now. They accept you based on your personal worth and not your label, and that’s the way it always should have been.”
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