Activists In Denmark Have Questioned The Decision To Redub Pixar’s Soul With White Actors In The Lead Roles

Released in December on Disney+, the critically acclaimed film sees Jamie Foxx voice Pixar’s first black protagonist, jazz musician and teacher Joe Gardner. You can read The Independent’s five-star review of the film here.

However, in the Danish-language version of Soul, Joe is voiced by white actor Nikolaj Lie Kaas, with controversy erupting after a number of activists and scholars suggested that Lie Kaas’s casting was an example of structural racism.

The actor responded to the comments earlier this month, writing: “My position with regards to any job is very simple. Let the man or woman who can perform the work in the best possible way get the job.” (via The New York Times)

One critic was activist Asta Selloane Sekamane, who disputed claims that there weren’t enough black actors to fill the main parts when they did voice some of the smaller roles.

“It can’t be the constant excuse, this idea that we can’t find people who live up to our standards,” she said. “That’s an invisible bar that ties qualification to whiteness.”

Regarding the backlash against their comments, academic Mira Skadegad said that people in Denmark had “a long history of denial when it comes to racism, and a deep investment in the ideal of equality”

However, this practice is one that happens in many European countries. In the German version of Soul, Joe is voiced by a white actor, 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,” he said.

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