Denmark’s Version Of ‘Soul’ Uses A White Voice Actor

Denmark created a version of Pixar’s film Soul in the Danish language using a white voice actor

The film, released on Disney+ in December, features renown actor-musician Jamie Foxx voicing the film’s main character “Joe Gardner,” an aspiring jazz musician who is on a quest to live a life with more meaning. It's Pixar's first animated film with a Black main character.

Nikolaj Lie Kaas, a white actor, voices the main character in the Danish-language version of the film. The move sparked backlash from scholars and advocates who highlighted the casting of a white actor to voice a Black character as a prime example of structural racism.  

The criticism led to Kaas to release a statement. 

“My position with regards to any job is very simple,” Kaas posted to Facebook. “Let the man or woman who can perform the work in the best possible way get the job.”

Activist Asta Selloane Sekamane told The New York Times that there had to have been Black voice actors available for the role, since they’re used for minor parts in the dubbed-version of the film.

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

Denmark isn’t the only European nation to dub Soul with white voice actors. Germany used a white actor to voice "Joe," but got Black actor Kaze Uzumaki to play the character "Paul."

Uzumaki said in an interview with the Times, that he almost always voices characters originally played by Black actors, something that he didn’t like to do at first. 

“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.” 

Photo: Disney/Pixar

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