Skip to main content

Voice actor Alejandro Antonio Ruiz walks into an empty studio lobby just as another actor is exiting the recording booth ahead of him. Alejandro recognizes him. The actor is also Latin-American - around the same age and height. He quietly murmurs “Nice, lil’ homie” to himself, as he walks past Alejandro and exits the studio.

There had likely been hundreds of talented voice actors all auditioning for Gekko, VALORANT’s Mexican-American Angeleno agent. This was an opportunity for a breakout role and to forever have their voice imprinted in one of the most popular gaming titles. The nervous energy was building up, and it was enough to shake anyone’s confidence. Yet Ruiz was unmoved by the understandable fear of rejection. There had only been six words running through his mind in that moment:

“This is me. You got this.”

From an outside perspective, the casting team for Gekko would see just one of many talented voice actors enter that booth. What they couldn’t see was the lifetime spent embodying “that specific sound” that Riot had been searching for when sculpting the agent, Gekko. All he had to do now was wait for his turn behind the mic.

A sound engineer steps out of another door nearby. “Alejandro? It’ll be a few minutes while the air filter runs in the booth. Go ahead and make yourself at home.”

But Alejandro was already home.

Gekko’s duality is a product of Angeleno roots

A native of Boyle Heights in East LA, Ruiz’s early childhood embodied the everyday life of an Angeleno. Each day was filled with a routine of waking up to first-generation Mexican-American parents washing dishes, getting ready for work, and fixing up a quick breakfast. Ruiz rushes over to their parents with a brief but warm embrace before rushing out of the household to head to school while simultaneously thinking about which Mexican spot in Boyle Heights they will get lunch.

Gekko wasn’t just a character Ruiz was auditioning for during that process. Gekko was the embodiment of Ruiz’s entire life as a video game character.  From the subtle ways Ruiz emoted the script to all the way to the duality of capturing the multi-layered personality of Gekko, it was something that everyone could understand.

“The character has the potential to come off, kind of intense, kind of edgy based on the way he looks,” Ruiz explained. “But to have a personality that is kind of at odds with that is really interesting.”

There is a “push-pull” element to Gekko that adds so much more than meets the eye for the Angeleno agent. From the outside, you see an agent with green hair and tattoos and think intensely. Then, your world gets completely turned upside down when his eyes begin to light up hanging out with four adorable buddies. But when you combine those two elements together, it humanizes him, according to Ruiz.

“You see a neighborhood kid that’s just with his friends that can simultaneously give off an energy that says get the f*** away,” Ruiz jovially explains. “But that’s what humanizes him and I love it.”

The impact of VALORANT’s Angeleno agent

Past the exterior, there is so much more to Gekko’s character and his buddies. There is so much more to the Angeleno agent than just another agent that VALORANT players can select if they need an initiator in their composition. Gekko represents a shift in characterizations of the Mexican-American trope as well, which was something that Ruiz loved about the role.

“Mexican-American characters, first or second gen, don’t really appear in media,” Ruiz said. “Until very recently, you wouldn’t see them too often. Only now are you starting to get stories that paint a picture of a Mexican-American.”

Ruiz went on to highlight how the stereotypes for a Mexican-American video character in media can be “one-dimensional in their plot lines. He highlighted the usual trope of a “criminal” for many Mexican characters, which made it both difficult and exciting to change that notion with Gekko.

“This was an opportunity to do something different because of that uncharted territory of not having many examples to base Gekko on,” Ruiz truthfully shared. “But I wanted to do that because I wanted to trust that people would accept someone that had more dimensions to themselves.”

Ruiz's impact extends past Mexican-American heritage

While Gekko is Mexican-American, Ruiz has shared that Gekko’s relatability extends to a community surpassing just the Mexican-American heritage. They spoke about all the different messages and stories that he had been messaged about how they felt they could relate to the immigrant parent aspect of Gekko, which was something that Ruiz especially felt passionate about.

“It’s amazing to have people that resonate with Gekko and people telling me that they finally felt represented in media,” Ruiz heartfully shared. “So many people have all kinds of different stories It’s wild to me that he has resonated with so many different people.”

With a breakout role in one of Riot Games’ most popular video game titles, the future looks bright for Ruiz moving forward. Now that their voice is forever instilled into the game, it will be interesting to see what is next for Gekko’s voice actor. However, no matter what happens, the impact will forever stand.

Those interested in keeping up with Alejandro Antonio Ruiz can do so by following them on their socials at AlejandroRuizVO on all platforms. Alejandro will also be doing a few virtual autograph signing events on Streamily (streaming live on TikTok) throughout the months of April and May.