© KOKOSKA Co. 2019

TRAUMA & VOICE

April 3, 2019

 

Lupita Nyong'o stated that the voice of her "Red" character in Jordan Peele's socially conscious horror film Us was loosely based on a neurological condition called "spasmodic dysphonia,"  which involves spasms, strains, and stops in a person's speech, and is sometimes associated and/or exacerbated by psychological stress. Nyong'o has since apologized for her statement, after receiving criticism from not-for-profit disability organization RespectAbility. The actor's vocal choice, and its important criticism, help illuminate an essential ethic question when it comes to portraying trauma on screen: Can compassion and sensitivity toward stigmatization be privileged over "authenticity" (always a relative term in regard to acting) in the portrayal of conditions that lie outside of a performer's lived experience? 

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