Here’s a riddle for you… What do Sailor Venus — with the powers of love, beauty, and light —and a femme fatale part-cyborg named “V” have in common?
The answer? They and other iconic characters are voiced by the one and only Cherami Leigh. Cherami has breathed vitality into some of the biggest franchises in fantasy, science fiction, and gaming, including Street Fighter, Cyberpunk 2077, Pokémon, Sailor Moon, Zelda, and much more.
So, what does a middle-aged person like me care about all that? Well, for starters, some of those franchises have delighted the world for generations. I can still womp most could-be manfriends in a Street Fighter 2 using Chun Li. I also anxiously await an opportunity to vanish into the most recent Zelda installment. Though, more importantly than all that, my path as author and that of Cherami’s amazing career have crossed.
Nearly a hundred voices were considered to narrate The Amber Menhir. My audio team winnowed that arsenal of talent to a mean, lean thirteen actresses. These included voices accustomed to Broadway, The West End, television, and film. Each and every voice considered brought vim and vigor to their auditions, and every one of them made me appreciate the roles they played in a manner that even I, as the (alleged) author, had not.
I’ve known of Cherami Leigh for years. After all, I’m a nerd. I’m a sniveling, pedantic, fan-girling geek with interests ranging from Magic the Gathering to The Wheel of Time. But much of Cherami’s notoriety has come from the realm of anime, which is often stylized, and the tone I ascribed to her body of work felt at odds with The Amber Menhir. But a friend of mine repositioned Cherami when he sent clips of the gritty video game Cyberpunk 2077 for my consideration. The lead of Cyberpunk 2077 is the often-part-cyborg V, who is no manic pixie dream girl, and Cherami brought intriguing depth to that character and script in a way that blindsides. So, I asked my team to reach out to her for an audition.
Uh, her audition was staggering. Cherami completely vanished into the role of Chesa in both of her takes, bringing contrasting flavors and inflections to the chosen scene. She understood the moment’s tone completely and rendered Chesa an ideal combination of alluring and frighting. At moments, Cherami made me frightened of my own character. So, we extended Ms. Leigh an offer last week, and I’ve since been shaking in my boots with unexpressed excitement. This week, she accepted the role, and she begins recording next month.
I thank my lucky ******* stars for the good fortune of landing such a narrator. But more than anything, I am delighted because I know Cherami will bring heart stopping thrills and macabre laughter to thousands of listeners. I can’t wait to hear her performance, and in the meantime, I’ll busy myself by preparing the script for The Eggs Inside. But this time, I’ll have a very special voice in mind as I weave this twisted tale…