Sunbeams #3: Thaís Durães Interview – Voice of Katarina Alves

Hello dear readers! I hope everyone is safe out there during these times. It has been a long time since our last article and I apologize for the month long hiatus! Before I jump into the main course, I’d want to be a bit transparent first. 

As you can see, things look a tad bit different. Actually a lot different. A change of servers, a change of databases, just an entirely new engine altogether. Migration was a success and we’re ready to kick off a new chapter for Lost Summer Dayz. Let’s get back to business.

Remember another sub-series I had? Sunbeams? It was supposed to be a “Player Spotlight” of sorts where I interview various players in the fighting game community and content creators as a whole. After the first two chapters in the series, I’ve had a roadmap planned out where I’d interview various fighting game players and talk about their plans throughout the year, their history, and their tournament ventures throughout 2020.

Unfortunately, that happened.

As a giant wrench was thrown in my plans, I had to readjust. With tournaments being cancelled as we speak, it wouldn’t be fair to the players I spoke to if I posted articles about their dreams and ambitions for 2020. In due time, I will reach out to those who I spoke to, as well as some new players and people I have in mind and reshuffle my questions in the future.

Check out the rest of the Sunbeams project here! https://www.lostsummerdayz.com/category/player-spotlight/

That’s where the bad news ends, however! Time to kick things up a notch!

You’ve seen the title. You’ve seen the banner. The Sunbeams project is alive and very much so well. What better way to engage this comeback with the Queen of Comebacks herself as demonstrated by my good buddy Wommy here.

Introduced as one of the new characters for Tekken 7, Katarina Alves gave the rich roster a dash of spice. Her sharpened silver tongue was just as deadly as her Savate kicks with her taunting and determined personality. Katarina had since won the hearts of many with her graceful kicks, sultry disposition, and confident attitude — but what of the woman who gave her life to begin with?

Well, it’d be my honor to introduce you to the lovely Thaís Durães, the voice of Ms Alves herself.

A voice-acting veteran in Brazil, Durães’ lends her voice to many iconic characters in their Portugese dubs. These include Jacqui Briggs from Mortal Kombat, Kali from Rainbow 6 Siege, and — most recently — Sage from Valorant. These don’t include movies and anime dubs as well.

Even outside of voice acting, her talents stretch far and wide. Did you know that she’s a black belt in the Seven Star Mantis style?

Recent months had led Durães to connect with her fan-base more so than ever before thanks to social media. Being a huge fan of the Tekken series as well as being a gamer herself, she’s a woman with as much of a rich history as one can imagine. Therefore it was my honor to have the chance to interview Ms. Durães and learn more about the woman behind the ass-kicking, power-punching, orb-healing ladies themselves!

NH: What was one of your first acting roles? What was the inspiration that made you pursue that path? 

TD: I started acting when I was 10 years old, in the Drama club of my school in Cuiabá. At the age of 18 I went to [Federal University of Minas Gerais] to study Drama on a professional level. My goal was to act in theater plays and maybe movies. 3 years later, I was called to an audition in a dubbing studio. It was my first time voice acting and I fell in love right away. 4 years later I moved to São Paulo and started working in the best studios of the country, including the one where I got the chance to make the voice for Katarina Alves from Tekken 7, Maximal - a Keywords Studio.
Maximal Studio is an audio studio based in São Paulo recently purchased by Keywords Studio
NH: How is the climate different as a multi-lingual voice actress compared to one who does English voice acting? Or is there any difference?

TD: I think the major difference between the English version of a product and the multilingual depends on the game's goal. Usually the English version is the first choice for a lot of gamers because there was a time when almost everything had only the English option. But that changed! 

TD: Voice acting has grown in a lot of countries with amazing artists ready to make a localization of that product. Characters and scenes are sometimes adapted to fit the cultural differences of a country - for example the school uniform of a game character distributed in Japan might be adapted when distributed in the USA to t-shirt and jeans. The whole game should fit the local expectations -- that's why the term is "localization" -- voices included. You know that idiomatic joke in another language that you simply don’t get? The localization process adapts it to a local version you can relate to.
Kicking butt is her specialty…
TD: In Tekken, it was important to make it local when recording the lines for every char. With Katarina, for e.g. "I'll kick your butt", is a common expression in English, but in Portuguese the literal translation is pretty funny -- I had a huge laughing crisis when I first tried to record it -- it didn't seem intimidating. We took a moment to understand the character, her fighting style and how to express the same intimidating behavior in a Brazilian way. In this case, we couldn't change the word "kick" since she's a kickboxer and would literally be kicking everyone. The original phrase was "I'll kick your butt until you die”, but we changed it into “I’ll kick your butt to hell and back” in Portuguese.

TD: For me that's the most incredible thing about Tekken, every character speaking their own language, it makes it real! It’s just like Tekken tournaments: players from all over the world, each one speaking their own language, everybody exchanging their cultural references, learning a bit about other countries... It's breathtaking! 
NH: When I first heard [Katarina] I felt her energy and confidence. So, even without knowing any Portuguese at all, I felt her personality through your voice and range.

TD: Thank you! It’s always good to know that I was able to express it in a way that players can understand the feeling even without understanding the words. That’s the goal!
TD: I've been talking to players in Japan, Germany and Mexico and we're using translators all the time because they don't speak English or Portuguese and I don't speak their languages, and it feels just like the game, lots of languages and cultures happening. I'm learning a lot with them. When a Korean player sent me a video saying Katarina's lines, even with all the difficulties of not knowing Portuguese, I went to heaven and back. I don't have words to describe the feeling of being part of that --- at least not in English hahaha.

TD: As a player, I love repeating the character's lines, I do it all the time, and to learn a bit of other languages in doing so is amazing! For me, there's no other game localization better than Tekken. The game is multicultural, and so is the voice acting. I love it.
NH: You mentioned you were also a gamer yourself. Are you a fan of the games you were cast for?

TD: Yes! I used to play Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter with my brother and cousins when I was a kid, so when they called me to voice Jacqui Briggs in [Mortal Kombat X] I got super excited! She was a new character but it felt like giving voice to my child hero. There were other games where I did small roles like Batman: Arkham Knight --- I did one cop [who was a] fan of Batman. It was so natural and real to voice it! --- and another small one in Assassin’s Creed… Even the games I didn’t play before, like Rainbow Six Siege where I voiced Kali, the fact that I played other similar games such as Counter Strike made it much easier and exciting.
NH: What are your favorite games currently?

TD: Currently, I’m really into Valorant --- in which I voiced Sage in Portuguese --- but I just started playing it. The one I play the most is Paladins. I’m a healer main and I play Seris and Jenos. That definitely helped me give a voice to Sage. But my favorite of all time is probably Diablo --- I'm so anxious for the Diablo 4 release! RPGs and MMORPGs are really my thing.
NH: How did it feel to know you had fans of Katarina as well as the voice behind the character? Rather, how does it feel to connect to fans around the world outside of Brazil? 

TD: It felt amazing! Especially because I recorded Katarina in 2015 and only got in contact with the community in the end of 2019, it was a big surprise! Everybody's been super receptive. I know there aren't a lot of Katarina players in comparison to other characters but it’s really good to get their feedback -- which is great for me to improve my work -- cheer with them, watch the streamers, talk about predictions and wishes for the game and for Kat… It's incredible, I could never imagine that would happen and I’m so thankful and happy to be a part of that experience. 
NH: Maybe one day we may see you at a tournament? (Of course not now but...future!)

TD: Well... I would love to go to a tournament, I went to the Mortal Kombat Latin America Finals and it was so sick! I loved it. Even outside Brazil, my sister lives in Berlin and I also have close friends in Italy and China that I’m planning on visiting as soon as possible, so I wouldn’t mind to make it in time for a tournament hahaha.

Don’t be surprised if you see her at next year’s Combo Breaker or something! 

Being a part of the fighting-game community for a decade, give or take, it’s always nice to find out that the contributors to the games you play are also fans of their characters and games themselves. When you do see her around either in tournament or online, expect her to 2-0 you with a smile!

Once again I would love to give a very special thanks to Ms. Durães for the time. In our back and forth exchanges, I picked up how passionate she was in everything she did. Whether it was acting, martial arts, or even gaming, Durães has a fire that burns just as bright as Katarina, as commanding as Briggs, and as supportive as Sage. 

Please check her out at these social media listed below!

Thaís Durães Twitter

Thaís Durães Instagram

MORRA!