Lupita Nyong’o has apologized for causing offense by discussing her research of spasmodic dysphonia as she created her evil character Red’s creepy voice in horror hit “Us.”
The 12 Years A Slave star had to distort her voice to portray her onscreen antagonist, and she recently detailed how she came across the neurological disorder after hearing attorney and environmental activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who suffers from the condition, speak at a past event.
“I was fascinated, and I started doing research,” she told The New York Times. “I met with people who have the condition and built it from there.”
Her comments angered officials at disability groups like the National Spasmodic Dysphonia Association (NSDA), with a representative hitting out at Lupita for appearing to describe the vocal issue as a haunting sound.
“We understand that hearing the unique sound caused by symptoms of spasmodic dysphonia was the spark of inspiration for the voice of this character,” the spokesperson shared 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.”
However, the Oscar winner has now spoken out to clear up the controversy, insisting her remarks have been misconstrued.
Addressing the backlash during an appearance on talk show The View, she began, “I wanna say, first of all, that the voice of Red is a composite of influences, and definitely a creation of my imagination, but I was inspired by a condition called spasmodic dysphonia, which is a neurological disorder, which can be triggered by physical or emotional trauma.”
Lupita went on to explain that it simply served as the “catalyst” to her creative process, and she started exploring the affects various conditions had on the vocal cords.
“Part of my research also included laryngeal fractures and vocal cord hemorrhages, and my own experience with vocal injury,” she shared. “All of that is very hard to get in a soundbite (for a media clip), so I think in mentioning spasmodic dysphonia I may have been disproportionate to what it actually is in the film.”
Instead of causing an uproar, what Lupita had been trying to do was “shed light” on the disorder, because she had learned that so many people are misdiagnosed.
Despite her good intentions, the actress can understand why some people may have felt slighted by her comments.
“It’s a very marginal group of people who suffer from this, so the thought that I would in a way offend them was not my intention,” she said. “In my mind, I wasn’t interested in vilifying or demonizing the condition. 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 that, I say sorry to anyone I may have offended.”
The Jordan Peele movie features Lupita starring alongside Winston Duke, and follows a vacationing family haunted by a group of demon lookalikes.
– Cover Media0