Taliyah was revealed yesterday morning, and while many players were excited about her abilities and the new landmark-centric synergies, others were concerned about some about her character portrayal. While her League of Legends complexion is bronzed and reminiscent of Middle Eastern heritage, her Legends of Runeterra complexion seemed much more fair-skinned and closer to European heritage.
Cropped portraits of Taliyah from her LoL splash screen (left) and LoR L1 full card art (right); click for full-sized originals
The other major change from LoL was her vocalization -- Riot both changed the Voice Actress and gave her a much different characterization. In LoL, Tayilah has a hard, mature voice and her lines are delivered with a very determined tone. The voice lines we've heard so far in LoR have a very juvenile voice are delivered in a giddy, "sing-sing" tone. Reddit user u/ranp34 created an excellent clip highlighting the differences in the voice lines.
Later that same day, Riot announced on their official Twitter channel that they recognized the seeming cultural appropriation and had begun the process of revising her artwork. They also spoke to their decision to change Taliyah's Voice Actress.
Hey folks, thanks for the feedback on Taliyah’s visual design. Her current design isn’t representative of her character, and we’re making changes. Due to time constraints, her updated art won’t be in at the launch of Empires of the Ascended, but we’ve started on revisions.
We love working with @ericalindbeck - you’ll hear her voice all over LoR. However, we made the decision to recast Taliyah’s voice actor to the extremely talented @ZehraFazal to remain as authentic to her character and heritage as possible.
Community feedback has been a key pillar for LoR, and the entire team strives to ensure our champions and followers all authentically represent their core themes and respective cultures. We appreciate your passion and feedback to keep us on that course.
Erica Lindbeck is a Caucasian Voice Actress who voices several Riot characters, including Morgana (LoL 2019 release and LoL 2020 "Coven skin"), Zoe (LoL 2017 release and LoR 2020 release), and the original Taliyah in her 2016 LoL release. Ironically, it seems like Riot's attempt to "realign" Taliyah's voice lines with a Pakistani-American Voice Actress (Zehra Fazal) have called even more attention to their artwork oversights than if they had stayed with Erica. Zehra Fazal also voices LoL's Kayle.
What do you think of Riot's quick response? Was it warranted? Share your thoughts with us below!