Spasmodic dysphonia groups criticise actor for crediting disability as inspiration for her doppelganger’s voice in Jordan Peele film
Fri 29 Mar 2019 13.58 GMT
Last modified on Fri 29 Mar 2019 13.59 GMT
Two organisations in the US have attacked Jordan Peele’s acclaimed follow-up to Get Out, Us, for furthering negative attitudes towards disability.
The National Spasmodic Dysphonia Association (NSDA) and the nonprofit group RespectAbility have taken issue with lead actor Lupita Nyong’o’s recent revelation that she used the symptoms of spasmodic dysphonia as the inspiration for the strained voice of her murderous doppelganger character in the film.
Speaking to the New York Times, Nyong’o said her breakthrough with the character come after attending a fashion event at which Robert F Kennedy Jr, who has spasmodic dysphonia, was speaking.
Described as a “neurological disorder that causes involuntary spasms of the larynx”, this was the model for the voice which Nyong’o gave her character.
RespectAbility president Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi said: “Connecting disabilities to characters who are evil further marginalises people with disabilities, who also have significant abilities and want to contribute to their communities just like anyone else.”
The NDSA said: “One of the toughest parts of having a disability is that people make assumptions based on the way you walk, talk or act, sometimes with little understanding of what is causing it.
“We understand that hearing the unique sound caused by symptoms of spasmodic dysphonia was the spark of inspiration for the voice of this character. 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.”
Nyong’o told Variety that spasmodic dysphonia was the inspiration for the character because she, too, was working through trauma.
The NDSA also queried her logic, saying, “For so long, people were told that it’s psychological – and it’s not. It’s neurological.
“Spasmodic dysphonia is not a creepy voice; it’s not a scary voice. It’s a disability that people are living with and [they] shouldn’t be judged on.”
Nyong’o has not yet responded to the criticism.
Us, which opened last week to positive reviews, landed America’s highest grossing first weekend for an original horror, with $70m (£53.54m). That figure has only been broken this year by the opening weekend for superhero blockbuster Captain Marvel, which took £153m.