Lupita Nyong’o Hit by Disability Groups for ‘Us’ Acting Voice Mimicking Spasmodic Dysphonia Symptoms
Oscar-winner Lupita Nyong’o is under fire from groups representing people with disabilities after revealing in a recent New York Times profile that her performance in Jordan Peele’s Us was inspired by symptoms of spasmodic dysphonia—in particular, involuntary spasms of the larynx—for the strained voice of her evil doppelgänger character, Red. “In the film, Nyong’o’s hair-raising performance is defined by a haunting amplification of the disorder, which sounds like what might happen if you swallowed a cheese grater,” Times reporter Reggie Ugwu wrote in the profile. In response, Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, president of the nonprofit group RespectAbility, said: “Connecting disabilities to characters who are evil further marginalizes people with disabilities, who also have significant abilities and want to contribute to their communities just like anyone else.” The National Spasmodic Dysphonia Association added: “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.” The group also blasted her misrepresentation of the neurological disorder as psychological; in an interview with Variety, Nyong’o linked spasmodic dysphonia to emotional trauma. Nyong’o has yet to respond to the criticism.