Lupita Nyong’o said careful steps were taken when she crafted the voice for Red, the evil doppelgänger to her character Adelaide Wilson in the film “Us.” The actress also said she didn’t mean to offend anyone.
Nyong’o recently revealed Red’s voice was inspired by a neurological disorder called spasmodic dysphonia, which the National Spasmodic Dysphonia Association (NSDA) describes as a condition where the “tiny muscles of the larynx cause the voice to break up or sound strained, tight, strangled, breathy or whispery.”
Earlier this month, Nyong’o told The New York Times that she used Robert Kennedy Jr.’s voice as inspiration when she saw him speak at an event, and afterward she was called out by disability groups, who said linking disabilities with evil characters is harmful.
“We understand that hearing the unique sound caused by symptoms of spasmodic dysphonia was the spark of inspiration for the voice of this character,” wrote the NSDA in a statement. “What is difficult for us, and for the thousands of people living with spasmodic dysphonia, is this association to their voice with what might be considered haunting.”
On Thursday Nyong’o stopped by “The View” and provided more detail about the inspiration for Red’s voice, and then she issued an apology.
“The voice of Red was a composite of influences and definitely a creation of my imagination,” she explained. “In my processes as an actor, one of the things I look to do is to find ways into the most human and most real parts of the camera and to steer clear of a judgment of them as good or evil, pleasant or creepy.
“In my mind, I wasn’t interested in vilifying or demonizing the condition,” added Nyong’o. “I crafted Red with love and care. So as much as it is in a very genre-specific world, I really wanted to ground her in something that felt real. So for all of that, I say sorry to anyone that I may have offended.”
But despite some being bothered by Red’s voice, many still praised Nyong’o after the interview surfaced, mainly for how she explained herself.
“She brought awareness to a condition that many people never even heard of,” one person wrote underneath a YouTube video. “Kudos to her IDK what’s offensive about that.”
“I feel very educated after I watch this. OMG i’m actually shocked but she explained it so well,” another person commented.