Lupita Nyong’o forced to apologize after facing backlash from disability groups

She has drawn harsh criticism from the disability groups.

Lupita Nyong'o (Instagram)

Lupita is rarely one to receive backlash but she recently faced criticism on social media and concern from disability groups over her evil character in her new movie ‘Us’

This was after she confessed that she based Red’s (her evil character) creepy voice in the movie from a condition called Spasmodic Dysphonia. Lupita was attracted to the voice after hearing the voice of Robert Kennedy, Jr who suffers from spasmodic dysphonia after hearing him speak at a fashion show.

Speaking to Variety at the ‘Us’ Los Angeles premiere, Lupita said “I was inspired by the condition spasmodic dysphonia which is a condition that comes about from trauma, sometimes emotional, sometimes physical. It creates this spasming in your vocal cords that leads to an irregular flow of air.”

Disability groups speak

In a lengthy post on their website, the National Spasmodic Dysphonia Association (NSDA) expressed concern over the negative portrayal of the condition. “One of the toughest parts of having a disability is that people make assumptions based on the way you walk, talk or act, sometimes with little understanding of what is causing it. While this portrayal may raise much-need awareness about spasmodic dysphonia, it is important to understand that a voice disorder can significantly affect an individual’s social life, emotional well-being, and career,” read part of their statement on their website.

RespectAbility, a national nonprofit organization that aims at fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities for people with disabilities accused her of ‘demonizing disability.’

In a statement, its president Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi 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 issue at hand is that in order to intentionally achieve a creepy effect, the creative choice was to make the character have a disability – and demonizing the disability. This stereotype plays on people’s inherent discomfort with those who do not look the same as them, telling them that disfigurement—and disability, in general—makes characters revolting and morally wrong and reinforcing the notion that ‘we should be afraid of people whose faces and bodies are different from our own.’. In the case of Us, it is how the character sounds.”

Lupita Apologizes

In a letter addressed to the National Spasmodic Dysphonia Association Lupita explained that she had no intention of demonizing the condition, she had hoped to ‘shed light on the difficult disorder.”

“In discussing spasmodic dysphonia publicly as an inspiration, I never intended to demonize or vilify those with the disorder. In fact, after getting to know some people with it, I hoped it would help to shed light on a difficult disorder that is not well known by the public. I am sorry to all those who may have been hurt or offended by my mention of the condition, as my intention was never to present this condition in a sinister light.

Ultimately, Red's voice is a composite of influences and a creation of my imagination. In fact, the final voice does not sound like spasmodic dysphonia. I crafted her with care and love. I, in turn, extend my love to you now, in the hope that you are able to receive it and understand my motivations beyond the brief sound bites that the news may otherwise deliver to you,” read part of Lupita’s statement.


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