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Voice Actor Reveal: Zubyar!



Been a while, but! Very excited to finally announce the actor who will be playing our spicy Jinn is GM Hakim!


Now it's been a minute since he auditioned for the role so already I just need to express how grateful I am that he was still even interested in the role. But that being said, I never forgot it in all this time. I was sort of counting down to the moment I could finally reach out to him about it, and he actually reached out to me! And I was able to be like, "yeah hey actually I wanted to offer this to you, but I've just been so slow on my end." Time passed things happened and then I hit a point where it was like, "okay finally let's do it."


Picking GM for this role was pretty easy, one he was the only actor who had an actual ethnic background similar to Zubyar being MENA himself. So already for me again I try to cast as close as I can for characters not just because representation matters, but working with people who can keep you in check on a project like this is super important. But then second I think he was the only person to really bring up the idea of adding humanity to Zubyar which is really, really important. I guess because of how I write the bios from the perspective of a student telling gossip you don't always get the clearest picture of a character especially if the audition lines are... sort of expectant. So- some characters like Zubyar at a quick glance are going to come off one note. And especially for a character like him you need to be really careful because of how MENA people are portrayed in media. So GM saying that in the initial e-mail was like, "okay yes he gets it and I don't have to explain it." And then of course his audition was exactly what I was hoping for in terms of sound for the character, so it really was this perfect storm sort of situation.


Zubyar is a complex character in my own humblest opinion. Because yeah he comes off one way and presents himself one way, and- yeah it sort of falls into the typical stories about jinn that was the point. But I didn't want Zubyar to be evil and certainly not just for the sake of there being a bad boy character to date. He needed to fill a lot of roles, but also feel like a real person.


I think sometimes when (I think I've talked about this before) you write a lot of characters and they all have to stand out you can get into these grooves these archetypes while you're writing if you're not careful. You kind of just- naturally go sometimes and you need to be cognoscente of what the words you're writing mean how they're being said. I think this is sometimes where the benefit of stepping away for a while is actually a good thing, because you come back more detached from those natural inclinations of who the character is or how they sound and all that remains is what expressed to your actor and how they interpreted things.


I remember really enjoying Zubyar as a character writing for him was really fun because he was so unapologetically himself. But I know for a fact how I originally sort of wrote him is not the same as how GM played him. And that goes all the way back to that first e-mail about bringing humanity to the character. I knew that was important I knew I wrote it into his backstory, but I think- just because you know what a character needs to- subtly portray doesn't always mean you know what that sounds like. Again I think you can get lost in those bigger characteristics the easier ones to reproduce in your head that, that stuff kind of falls away in the writing and then it becomes again- making sure what you wrote can be expressed with those more complex feelings.


For example there's a moment SPOILER for those who care where you can set Zubyar free. In the script it was just, "at a loss for words." Now in my mind as I recall it was literally just Zubyar with the most subtle... uh- gasp? But GM brought that humanity by having Zubyar more or less break down into very confused laughter. Which yes that makes sense given the character and the follow-up line in my head where it was more just shock GM played with more genuine sincerity for what the player did for him. Which hit me really hard and was a way better idea than what I had in my mind.

And ultimately this all goes back to what I've said before and that's that the actor really does matter and is more than just a voice. Had I cast someone else Zubyar very, very easily could have been sort of the one note I envisioned and all that humanity would have solely been tucked away in the background information that's only gathered post-game after dating him. GM the way he plays him gives that humanity sort of upfront more it's between the sarcasm and- malice of some of his lines and thoughts. No longer do you solely have to take this blind leap of faith. If you're- insightful enough and take the time that humanity is there to see which- again is so crucial, and again yeah is something I wanted, but in no way is achieved just through words nor do I think I really had vision in how it should be shown.


I don't know. GM is an incredible actor, I'm honored, and humbled to have gotten to work with him on this. Zubyar I don't honestly think would be as- well maybe not as dimensional as I had hoped he'd be without him. Because again GM did all the heavy lifting and that should be recognized and praised. Words mean nothing till an actor comes along and says them with intent. So- without further adieu GM Hakim welcome to Pleasant Sparkle Academy!

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