Resident Evil 4 actor strikes back at harassers: 'not the first time an actor of colour faces racist and sexist harassment, for simply participating'

Ada Wong
(Image credit: Capcom)

Lily Gao, the Ada Wong voice actor who wiped her Instagram after continued harassment last week, has returned to the platform. In a post spotted by TheGamer, Gao hit back at abusive critics, writing that "while criticism is expected, it's not the first time an actor of colour faces racist and sexist harassment, for simply participating."

"Being the first Asian actor to portray Ada in the Resident Evil video games is an honour, and I will forever be grateful to our producer and director, for making the decision on authentic representation," wrote Gao, but added that "It's unfortunate that with the game's release, also came the all too familiar feeling of 'I don't belong'."

In a section that—intentionally or not—seemed to address the criticism from some fans that her performance was not as 'sexy' as Sally Cahill's Ada Wong in the original Resident Evil 4, Gao wrote that "It is time we stop only capitalizing on the sexualized, eroticized, and mysterious Asian woman, and make space to honour every kind of Asian woman."

"My Ada is a survivor. She is kind, just, intelligent, and funny. She is unpredictable, resilient, and absolutely not a stereotype."

Gao accompanied the post with photos of Asian actresses who inspired her performance as Wong: Shu Qi in The Assassin, Faye Wong in Chungking Express, and Maggie Cheung in Irma Vep.

It's unclear if this marks Gao's full return to Instagram, or if this is just a statement she felt she had to make. I wouldn't blame her if she continued to stay away from the platform for a while, though: Her performance in the Resident Evil 4 remake attracted a deluge of criticism from upset fans, often voiced in the harshest possible way

It's perfectly reasonable to have criticisms of a person's work, of course, but this being the internet, many decided the best venue for those criticisms was Gao's personal Instagram account. The harassment eventually led Gao to delete all her photos but one: an excerpt from the National Association of School Psychologists' "Understanding Race and Privilege." That post remains up, alongside this new statement, but none of Gao's other photos have been restored so far.

Dataminers have found references to Separate Ways—a DLC for the original RE4 that saw you play as Ada Wong—in the files for the RE4 remake, so it seems likely that Gao will return to the role in the near future. I suspect a lot of the people angry about her performance right now will still buy it, and somehow manage to be just as angry about that, too. The internet is a nightmare.

Joshua Wolens
News Writer

One of Josh's first memories is of playing Quake 2 on the family computer when he was much too young to be doing that, and he's been irreparably game-brained ever since. His writing has been featured in Vice, Fanbyte, and the Financial Times. He'll play pretty much anything, and has written far too much on everything from visual novels to Assassin's Creed. His most profound loves are for CRPGs, immersive sims, and any game whose ambition outstrips its budget. He thinks you're all far too mean about Deus Ex: Invisible War.