The Beauty Right in Front of Us
It has been told to me many times that “the jewels you are looking for are always right in front of your face, you just have to know where to look.” For instance, if one looks closely, they will see an arrow in the Fed Ex symbol. Actress Cree Summer is one of those jewels who have always been in the entertainment business, with viewers bearing witness to this beauty’s talent and not even knowing it. She’s a triple threat, displaying her talents as an actress, singer/songwriter, and most of her entertainment career as a voice actress. In a recent interview I realized her mind and spirit are as free as the characters she’s portrayed.
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 stay on the show A Different World as the character Freddie Brooks. 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. For a more complete list of her works, just check out her IMDB page, and see that this is one hard working woman!
In comparison to live acting, she said voiceover work has its benefits, but she still enjoys all aspects of the acting craft. “I love doing both voiceovers and on camera acting, but I really like the freedom I get in voice acting,” she explained. “I really get into a character, and use its traits, age, and even jaw and teeth type to determine how I should do its voice.” Another positive aspect of voiceovers, she told me, was the closeness of everyone in the whole community. “It’s like being a part of a unique club, where everyone respects one another. It’s not like the music business, or live acting, where certain people will see others as competition. I am blown away and humbled when I walk in the studio and see a woman who can do eight character voices and none of them sound the same! Another reason there’s no uptight attitude about competition is because all of us are silly people and love our job.”
Despite the competitive attitude in the music business, this doesn’t stop her from writing poems and songs, and creating musically. Since her 1999 album Street Faerie - produced by friend Lenny Kravitz - was released, she’s continued to stay inspired. “I get inspired to write songs from many things - fantasy or poetry books I’ve read, or even live performances where there is dancing and other visual art involved.” Musically she has very diverse, colorful taste, as she grew up on a reservation listening to Native American music. In her own collection one will find music from Frank Zappa, Diana Washington, or even music from independent hip hop crews like Freestyle Fellowship. Her own style has changed since her last album as she says she’s not as “angry” as she used to be. “I was such a zealot back then and was raging against the world. I now realize that there is a much softer way to transform the world for the better. I also realized that the more I know, the more I know I don’t know anything!”
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. I’m really excited about the remake of The Swan Prince that Disney is making, in which about half of the cast is black.”
With all the work she does, she is so talented that she can do her job quickly and effectively. A session may only last a couple of hours. Staying humble with her gift, she said that she feels very blessed to be able to do what she does and still have time to herself and her own personal creations.
If you want to know a little more about Cree, check out our recorded interview in the podcast edition of “Keneteph’s Korner”, with some questions asked by people from a Cree Summer myspace fan group…
DOWNLOAD: (right click to save)
Keneteph’s Corner: An Interview With Cree Summer (MP3 format) – 11.24 MB
-Copyright 2007 Keneteph Entertainment
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