When Universal Pictures International dubbed the Italian version of the film Promising Young Women, they fucked up big time and chose a male voice actor, Roberto Pedicini, to dub Laverne Cox. This was discovered a week ago, when Universal Pictures Italy posted a clip of Una Donna Promettente and Laverne’s character spoke in a “distinctly masculine tone.” Trans activists and people on social media were rightfully outraged, and soon the clip was taken down.
Universal apologized, announced that Laverne’s voice will be redubbed with a female voice actor, and the Italian version’s theatrical release has been pushed back (it was supposed to come out today). Good! This isn’t Bob’s Burgers, this is an Oscar-winning film starring a trans woman. In the words of Stephanie Tanner, “How rude!”
Trans actor/voice actor Vittoria Schisano has dubbed Laverne in the Netflix doc Amend: The Fight for America and voiced trans character, Natalie, in the Italian version of Big Mouth. She says (via The Guardian):
“I think this dubbing choice was a straight-up act of violence. It’s insulting. I’d feel bullied if I were [Cox].”
Vittoria says she doesn’t know any other trans voice actors in Italy, and she wasn’t asked to read for Laverne. But it’s not just Italy; cis men were also used to dub Laverne in the Spanish and German versions. According to a source, Spain will redub for the home entertainment version (it was already released in theatres). Here’s Universal’s apology:
“We are deeply grateful to Laverne and the transgender community for opening our eyes to a bias that neither we nor many in our industry had recognised. While there was no malicious intent behind this mistake, we are working diligently to fix it. We have begun redubbing Ms Cox’s voice with female actors in our international territories and are pushing back release dates to ensure the correct version is available.”
“We are sorry for the pain caused but are thankful that we can address the situation on this film and prevent similar mistakes from happening again on future projects,” the statement added.
“Changing one’s mind can be a smart approach. We can all make mistakes, but those who are smart apologise, take a step back and try to fix it.”
This conversation also opens up the one about race. Daniele Giuliani, the president of the Associazione Nazionale Attori Doppiatori (National Association of Voice Actors) says:
“We’ve never had black voice actors – not because we didn’t want them, but because there aren’t any who have specialised in voice acting.”
Daniele says some studios have asked them to find “alternative solutions”, which has led to hiring non-specialized dubbers. Daniele said this hasn’t always worked well, and the association’s goal is to train more voice actors (or existing screen actors) in the coming years.
So far Laverne hasn’t responded to any of the controversies, but the new host of E!’s red carpet coverage did post this #TransIsBeautiful thirst trap on the ‘gram:
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