Following recent criticisms regarding the inspiration behind her role in horror film Us, Lupita Nyong’o has publicly apologised.
The actress, whose voice in the film was inspired by a larynx disorder, has declared that her intention was never to demonise people who suffer with the condition.
She mentioned that larynx disorder spasmodic dysphonia and Robert F. Kennedy Jr were inspirational research points when recently discussing her inspiration behind the horror infused voice, and by doing so has received major backlash.
When speaking on the View, Nyong’o expressed: “It is a very marginal group of people who suffer from this…The thought that I would, in any way, offend them was not my intention. In my mind, I wasn’t interested in vilifying or demonising the condition.”
“I crafted Red with love and care. As much as it (was) in a genre-specific world, I really wanted to ground her in something that felt real. For all that, I say sorry to anyone I may have offended.”
Red, Nyong’o’s character is a doppelganger of the film’s lead Adelaide. The actress explained that she created the voice for the role via a “composite of influences” and to do so spent time researching “laryngeal fractures, vocal cord haemorrhages and (my) own experiences with vocal injury.”
When speaking with the New York Times, Nyong’o has cited spasmodic dysphonia, a neurological disorder that famously affected Robert F Kennedy Jr, as a voice model.
The National Spasmodic Dysphonia Association (NSDA) expressed their critique by stating: “Spasmodic Dysphonia is not a creepy voice; it is not a scary voice. It is a disability that people are living with and (they) shouldn’t be judged on.”
President of the non-profit activist group RespectAbility, Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, has also protested by stating: “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.”
In the wake of the recent apology however, RespectAbility have released a new statement, remarking: “We hope Nyong’o will use this experience to continue lifting up all marginalised groups including the 1-in-5 people who live with disabilities. In general, the Hollywood practise of using disability primarily to villainise people or to show them as objects of pity needs to end.”
While it was clearly not the intention of Nyong’o to villainise, offend, or demonise those living with illness, her apology has been welcomed by a variety of organisations, and by those who have been in some way affected by a larynx disorder.