My mother always told me playing video games would get me nowhere. That negative reinforcement replayed in my head as I waited in the SoHo offices of Rockstar Games for a job all 15-year-old introverts dream of: voiceover work for a video game. And not just any game, but Grand Theft Auto IV. Unlike the average-looking, late-twenties brunette who nervously recited what seemed to be her lines, I was calm. I did more lines than L.A. chicks (speaking, not drugs); just check king-mag.com for the credits. Constant hours of Tecmo Bowl and Super Glove Ball with the Power Glove (remember that?) breed you for such frivolous accomplishments.
At the time, GTA IV was 85 percent done, and they were in need of some voiceovers for wayward pedestrians and minor characters. Seeking Joe Schmos for authenticity, I scored a part by promising to play the role of a furry (I kiiid). Nothing huge, but at least I get a credit in the booklet. Shows what my mama knows.
1. After being introduced to my director for the afternoon, production associate John Zurhellen, I am quickly informed that I will be playing the role of a nondescript Jamaican rude-bwoy, looking down the barrel of a gun, begging for my life. For the record, I know as much about faking a Jamaican accent as the New England Patriots know about perfection. But apparently, being of Jamaican descent, as well as growing up in Flatbush, Brooklynâ€”which is the mini West Indies in its own rightâ€”and hanging with cousins who specialize in di ganja helped me channel my inner patois.
2. After being settled in the small booth with Zurhellen standing opposite of me doing his directing, it's showtime! I do my sound check, then notice there's something off after glancing at my lines: Jamaicans don't rattle off quotes like "Ya wah I-n-I to tump ya,â€ or "A wha ya lookin' at? I-n-I will lick ya down.â€ This isn't the talk of a Rasta unless you lived in Brixton in 1982 and "Pass the Dutchieâ€ is your anthem. I request to ad-lib some of the dialogue. Zurhellen agrees, adding, "The script is written by some white guys in London. If that's not how a Jamaican talks, show me.â€
3. Trust, I don't take direction well (ask my editors), because I always believe I nail it on the first try. So when I was asked to run back one simple line ("No, don't shoot! Me nah wah die!â€) about seven times in different tones, I was getting annoyed. This is the scene where I'm begging for my life with a gun in my grill. I've never had a gun in my face, and the last thing I had to beg for didn't require me to wave my hands or whine like a petulant child. I just wasn't believable. To add effect, Zurhellen told me to close my eyes and listen to him paint the setting. After I said my line with some pathos, my eyes still closed, Zurhellen exclaims, "That's it!â€ Come to find out while my eyes were closed he pulled a make-believe gun in my face. What am I, four years old?
4. After about 45 minutes, and more "rassclotâ€ and "bombaclotâ€ bombs than Shottas, we're done. From what Zurhellen told me, "Most people who come in for voiceovers take about an hour and a half to get what we want,â€ which must be his way of saying I did a good job. I wanted to reply with a simple, "Thanks for the opportunity,â€ but my voice was so shot. I was in serious need of a lozenge. After signing the release form and discussing opportunities to voice other games, I was back to the office to brag about how major my part was. What they don't know won't hurt them.
**Check out KING Magazine's entire GTA IV package in the May 2008 Issue**