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Why she’s in a different world

(Photo credit: youtube screenshot)

Cree Summer, the real life actress behind the quirky, throwing-up-peace-signs, fun-loving character “Freddie” on the long running sitcome, A Different World, has been working steadily since the show ended in 1993. She was only 23 then and quickly capitalized on her quirky voice to launch a career voicing animated cartoon series. In her illustrious voice over career, she’s even gotten to work as the voice of the green M&M in commercials.

She got her start into voice acting at the age of 11 as the voice of Penny on the popular show Inspector Gadget and continued to do cartoon voiceovers even during her run on the show A Different World.

As a matter of fact, she brought the voices of Elmyra from Tiny Toons and Susie Carmicheal from Rugrats to life during the last few years A Different World was on the air.

In her early career, she was a part of such cartoon classics such as The Real Ghostbusters, The Care Bears Movie, Strawberry Shortcake, and The Ewok Adventures.

Now 52, Summer is all grown up and happily married with two kids.
One reason why she loves voice acting is because she is free to be anything she wants, a black girl, a white girl, even an inanimate object. She felt that as a black actress the best she could ever hope for would be to play a white woman’s black best friend.

Her success has largely come from voice acting, but her real passion is music.

She became good friends with Lisa Bonet and her ex-husband musician Lenny Kravitz. In 1999, Cree released her own solo album entitled, “Street Faerie,” which was produced by Lenny Kravitz. She even toured with Kravitz, opening for his shows.

Unfortunately, she was dropped by her record label shortly after going on the road.

Besides her voice, one thing about Summer that people identify her with is her hair.

“Believe it or not, on ‘A Different World’, I was very unhappy with my hair,” admits Summer.

“People don’t know that. That was not a happy hair time for me but I’m happy that people were inspired by it though. Debbie Allen had taken my hair and dyed it red and they used to curl it with a curling iron, and it wasn’t until I left ‘A Different World’ at 23, that I learned how to do my hair and fell in love with it.”

“It’s always been curly and when I started making records and touring with my music, I started loving my hair. It really became an identity… something for me to hide behind when I was insecure, and…

… to show off when I felt confident. But now I’m in a different stage. I’m a mother and it’s in a bun. I call it the Mom Bun.”

Cree continues to do voiceovers for cartoons, commercials and a number of popular video games.

Even with the diverse amount of roles she’s played, Summer still has things she would like to see and accomplish in the business. “One character I’d like to voice that I haven’t played yet is a fairy, and I’d really love to do that. As far as African-American roles, we’ve come a long way, but I’d still like to see more diverse roles for African Americans and other ethnicities being created in the cartoon world.”

by Aria Ellise


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