Resident Evil 4: Ada Wong Actress Responds to Fan Harassment and Review Bombing

Lily Gao is facing criticism for her portrayal of Ada Wong in Resident Evil 4 Remake, but not all of that criticism is based on her performance.

Resident Evil 4 Remake
Photo: Capcom

Many fans and critics agree that Resident Evil 4 Remake is a nearly perfect game. The remake improves the original’s controls and mechanics, and, unlike its enjoyably campy source material, Resident Evil 4 Remake is also pretty scary. However, some gamers are displeased with one of the title’s voice actors, and they’ve decided to take it out on her in some despicable ways.

Small spoiler alert: Resident Evil 4 Remake still includes the Resident Evil franchise’s femme fatale of mystery Ada Wong. This time, though, she has traded in her cocktail dress for something more suited to sneaking around a village infested with parasite-infested zombies. Ada Wong is also played by another voice actress. Actually, not counting spin-offs and cameos, Ada Wong is on her fourth actress. Originally, Sally Cahill played Ada Wong, but Courtenay Taylor replaced her for Resident Evil 6. When Capcom remade Resident Evil 2, Jolene Anderson was cast as Ada. However, while that game’s Leon Kennedy actor, Nick Apostolides, returned for Resident Evil 4 Remake, Anderson did not. Lily Gao takes over voice acting duties for Ada in that game.

Gao’s resume is quite substantial. She previously played characters such as Evelyn Chu in The Handmaid’s Tale and Vanessa in Slip. In fact, nobody can say Gao lacks experience in the Resident Evil IP since she previously played Ada in the live-action film Resident Evil: Welcome to Racoon City. Regardless, it seems that some gamers do not like her performance in Resident Evil 4 Remake. Plenty of comments called Gao bored and amateurish in the game, while others accused her of not being sultry enough (whatever that means). Some critics even called her performance a low point of the experience. Unfortunately, some fans’ responses to her performance were also clearly racially motivated or otherwise meant to attack Gao personally in hateful ways. We won’t repeat them here for obvious reasons.

Most dissenters simply left comments on sites such as Reddit, Twitter, and YouTube. Others, though, took to Metacritic to review bomb the game. Sadly, a not insignificant number of people also visited Gao’s Instagram page and personally harassed her over their criticisms. The backlash was so severe that Gao previously deleted 99% of her Instagram account.

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If you previously visited Gao’s Instagram page at that time, you found only one post remaining. That blog post, titled “The Role of Privilege,” is a tirade against white privilege. Of course, Gao made that post in 2020 (long before Resident Evil 4 Remake‘s release), and white privilege has obviously been a major talking point in regard to many societal issues for reasons that go well beyond Gao’s performance. So why did Gao leave that article but delete everything else off her Instagram at that time? Well, Gao may have recently clarified the matter when she made this follow-up Instagram post that directly addressed some of the harassment she has received. In that post, she also explains that she wanted to play against the expectations of a certain type of character:

It certainly seems like Gao is drawing a line between those criticizing her performance and those criticizing her on the basis of her race, gender, and those whose expectations for the Ada Wong character may be based on certain stereotypes. It isn’t the first time we’ve seen an actress face that kind of harassment (especially in a major franchise), and it might not be the last time Gao faces it in this specific instance. After all, hackers have datamined evidence that suggests Capcom is planning to remake the original Resident Evil 4’s Separate Ways mode, possibly as DLC. Since that mode stars Ada, odds are good that Gao will reprise her role for that side story.

If that happens…well, some have already made up their mind about Gao’s performance, and some are willing to go to unreasonable lengths to tell Gao their opinions. Likewise, Gao has demonstrated what she thinks of those who choose to personally attack her under the guise of criticizing her performance. We can hope for reason and decency from here, though recent history sadly tells us that instances of such harassment have become an all-too-predictable part of many industries.