Carolina Ravassa is a woman who is well-known to the gaming world as the voice of Sombra in Overwatch. Ms. Ravassa will be acting as the emcee for Playcrafting's The 3rd Annual Bit Awards, which is all set to come to Manhattan on February 1, 2019. I had the pleasure of being able to have a conversation with her about The 3rd Annual Bit Awards, her career, and how an actress who is more comfortable with dancing and yoga found herself thrust into the gaming world.
One of the first things I sought to ask about was her experience with sitting down to learn Overwatch from YouTuber Fitzyhere. Carolina Ravassa didn't do that bad for her first try in my opinion, but she has a somewhat less glowing opinion of her performance in the game. "I'm not a very good gamer at all," Ms. Ravassa said on the subject. "Some things come easier than others and I think I've always been outdoorsy more than a gamer."
Overwatch is certainly not Ms. Ravassa's first experience with the gaming world. She's had a surprisingly small number of roles in video games, such as the heist crew member Taliana Martinez in Grand Theft Auto V. Here other gaming credits include less easily-recognizable fare like background voices and characters in Max Payne 3 and Just Cause 4, along with some motion capture work for Red Dead Redemption 2. While she's only had a few roles in the video game industry, every single one of them has been in a major title with millions of sales. Her role as Sombra was, however, undoubtedly the turning point that made her known in the gaming community.
Carolina Ravassa lives in LA, but she makes her way to New York City every now and again for work—and occasionally, for fun.
That recognition has led to her being tapped as the emcee for The 3rd Annual Bit Awards. Fellow Overwatch alum (and Mercy's VA) Lucie Pohl made an appearance to present a single award last year, and I had wondered if there was a connection there. That part wasn't clear, but Ms. Ravassa told me that Playcrafting had approached her. Although she now mainly lives and works in LA, she nonetheless saw hosting The 3rd Annual Bit Awards as a unique opportunity that couldn't be passed up—it would be the first award show and the first video game award show that she's ever hosted, killing two birds with one stone.
That's not to say that she's unfamiliar with gaming events. Carolina Ravassa estimates that she has been to more than 30 gaming conventions and events over the years. These have provided her the opportunity to meet fans and make friends with her contemporaries in the industry. One of these people is Symmetra's voice actress Anjali Bhimani, a woman who Carolina first met just two days after Sombra's debut at Blizzcon. Since then, they've appeared dozens of times together in videos and social media talking about the industry and having fun.
Of course, Ms. Ravassa has broader horizons than her work voicing characters in video games. She's had appearances in various television shows, commercials, cartoons, and films, with one of the most notable so far being Mr. Robot in 2017. She also throws up a mix of sketch comedy and silly videos on her YouTube channel Hispanglosaxon. I was curious where exactly this delightful portmanteau was sourced from, and Ms. Ravassa told me that it was her own idea.
"The reason I came up with it is because for the longest time I was being told (in acting for film and TV) that I was too white to play Latina or too ethnic to play White," she began. "It got really tiring and frustrating so I started shooting little sketch comedy bits based on my real-life stories. So basically, it's a merge of Hispanic and Anglo-Saxon which I feel like I am 'cause I'm half-and-half. And so now this is my comedic term for myself but anytime I meet another pale or white Latino I say, 'Ah, you're a Hispanglosaxon,' and they say, 'I am!', and we bond over that."
Getting back to Overwatch, I was curious how exactly her recording process at Blizzard works. Her voice talents were first captured in "four or five" four-hour sessions once a week. With the majority of her work done, she is now occasionally called back to record additional lines for upcoming content releases. It's just become another part of her life, simple as that: every now and again, she'll be back in a booth bringing Sombra to life.
There's also the matter of fan-requested lines. I had brought up the example of McCree's "It's high tide" voiceline for his Summer Games skin, and I wondered if Blizzard would ever call them in to record a single thing. From her own experience, they tend to group up a bunch of lines together to make the most out of a single session. If you've ever been wondering why it takes so long to get just a single silly meme line into the game, now you know why. (I can't exactly blame Blizzard considering the costs of running or renting a profressional-grade recording environment for even a single hour.)
"For the most part, [Blizzard doesn't] do two voice lines at a time. They'll prepare Halloween voice lines, Easter voice lines, new skin voice lines. They are very organized and they set up a bunch of stuff so that our session is a little bit longer. So we'll kill a bunch of birds with one stone. And half the time, we don't know for what event it is. [...] We're surprised when they come out, 'Oh, that's what that was for.'"In many ways, Carolina Ravassa is one of several dozen brand ambassadors for Blizzard and Overwatch. Sure, we all know Overwatch Game Director "Papa" Jeff Kaplan, but we've since discovered the dozens of wonderful people behind the voices of the game's cast. I'm not sure whether it was cynicism or savvy on my part, but I was curious if all of these fun interactions we see between the VAs are part of their job. They're not, it seems—it's just something the voice actors do for fun of their own accord.
"I think we really just love our characters, and we've realized that the Overwatch really enjoys watching us try to say somebody else's voice line in our character's voice or do our best impression of that character," she said. "We just took it upon ourselves to have fun. We've become friends over the years and at conventions. Put actors together, they'll do weird stuff, you know?"
Anjali Bhimani (Symmetra) and Carolina Ravassa (Sombra) have become fast friends as evidenced by how readily Ms. Bhimani will cheekily sabotage her buddy's yoga workout.
So, aside from her upcoming gig hosting The 3rd Annual Bit Awards, what's next for Carolina Ravassa? My inquiry into her upcoming projects met with one of the harsh realities of working on games—the dreaded non-disclosure agreement. She was able to tell me that she's "working on a secret video game" right now. Other than that, it's par for the course as with any other voice actor or actor in general—waiting to hear back on past auditions and heading out to more in the future. (She had, in fact, had to run off to an audition immediately after we finished speaking).
It was a genuine pleasure to speak with Carolina Ravassa. Those of you in the New York City area will have the opportunity to see her host The 3rd Annual Bit Awards on Friday, February 1, 2019 in Manhattan. Simply pop over to the show's official website and get your tickets before they're all gone! You can keep up with Carolina Ravassa on Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, and at her website carolinaravassa.com.
What do you think of our chat with Carolina Ravassa? Are you surprised to hear about how voice acting generally works at big-budget studios? Let us know in the comments below!