Denmark’s version of ‘Soul’ will feature white voice actor
White actors also voiced characters in many other European-language versions of 'Soul'
Danish film critics initially greeted Soul, Pixar’s first animated feature to focus on Black characters and African-American culture, with delight, applauding its sensitive yet joyful portrayal of a jazz musician on a quest to live a meaningful life.
Released in December on Disney+, the critically acclaimed film sees Jamie Foxx voice Pixar’s first Black protagonist, jazz musician and teacher Joe Gardner, as previously mentioned by theGrio.
The Danish press did not initially focus on the characters’ race. But that changed after the movie’s release when the press was struck by the realization that the Danish-language version had been dubbed primarily by white actors. This is also the case in many other European-language versions of Soul.
In the Danish-language version of Soul, Joe is voiced by white actor Nikolaj Lie Kaas, and controversy erupted after a number of activists and scholars suggested that Lie Kaas’s casting was an example of structural racism. That criticism prompted Kaas to issue a statement.
“My position with regards to any job is very simple,” he wrote on Facebook. “Let the man or woman who can perform the work in the best possible way get the job.”
According to The New York Times, Asta Selloane Sekamane, one of the activists who criticized the casting said that there must have been Black voice actors available since actors of color were hired to voice some of the minor parts. “It can’t be the constant excuse, this idea that we can’t find people who live up to our standards,” she added. “That’s an invisible bar that ties qualification to whiteness.”
The German version of Soul also used a white actor to voice the character, Joe. But the character of Paul (played by Daveed Diggs in the English-language version) is voiced by black actor Kaze Uzumaki.
Uzamaki told the NYT that he almost exclusively dubs characters originally voiced by Black actors, which he originally disliked.
“But I figured I was more comfortable with me speaking the role than a lot of other white colleagues who don’t have a good knowledge of the English language, and can’t really tell what a Black person sounds like,” Uzamaki said.
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