The world of voice acting is truly a fascinating one, and it wouldn’t be the world it is without the talent and versatility of black voices. It really is no surprise that black voice actors are so extraordinary. I mean just considering the similarities between voice actors and singers, many of the great singers and vocalists are black. Even though the voice acting industry has tried to replicate it in certain scenarios where white voice actors have voiced black characters, you really can’t replicate the essence that comes from black voices.
I wanted to highlight black voices within the voice acting industry, and I say that with a specific direction. There are many actors who have dabbled in voice acting and the two worlds of voice acting and acting, do straddle the line pretty easily, but I wanted to specifically focus on those who specialize in voice acting as a craft. It was disappointing to be honest when I didn’t find as many true black voice actors as I was hoping for. I did find a lot of other wonderful discoveries though like the African American Voice Actor Database. The AAVADB provides resources and a place where connections can turn into opportunities.
Now, there are 5 voice actors who aren’t new to this but true to it. I am 100% sure, without a doubt, you have heard every single one of their voices before, so let’s get to know them a little bit more.
Cree Summers is one of the first names that pop into my mind when I think of voice acting. She has brought so many characters to life like Susie Carmichael from Rugrats, Miranda from As Told by Ginger, Numbuh 5 aka Abigail Lincoln from Codename: Kids Next Door and so many others. She got her start in voice acting in 1983 when she was cast as Penny in Inspector Gadget. I also know Cree as Freddie Brooks on one of my absolute favorite shows A Different World. The direction she took with voice acting makes a lot of sense when you watch the episodes when she was the campus DJ. Cree’s voice is very flexible but it is also so distinctive. You’ll have no questions if it’s her voicing a character.
I was first introduced to Phil Lamarr’s voice without even knowing it. Hey Arnold was a show I regularly watched and Phil just so happened to provide the voice of Jamio, Gerald’s older brother. I then got introduced to Phil Lamarr’s face through watching MadTV episodes as Phil was a part of the original cast. Even if you may not recognize his face, you have most definitely heard his voice. His voice acting career goes back to the 1980’s when he was cast in his first cartoon series: Mister T. Since then he has voiced numerous characters such as Green Latern in the Justice League cartoon series, Jack from Samurai Jack, and Michael from The Proud Family.
When one hears the intense and dramatic baritone of Keith David’s voice, it completely transports you to another place. One of mystery, one of suspense, and one of intrigue. Keith David has an expansive resume in entertainment that features films, tv shows, animation, and video games. I have seen Keith David in many movies, but I recently found out he was also in the show Community. I usually stop watching at the beginning of season 5, but seeing him in season 6 as Elroy was a nice surprise. Another place I loved hearing Keith David’s voice was in The Princess and the Frog as Dr. Facilier. His vocals are pure magic. You may have seen that same magical element in one of over 100 of his animated works like Coraline where he voiced The Cat or maybe Goliath from Gargoyles or how about the Flame King from Adventure Time.
Kimberly Brooks is an actress, singer, and voice actress who had been in the entertainment industry for over 20 years. Her first major role in animation was on Rugrats, so she is another amazing talent who has definitely been heard but not necessarily seen. It has been such a pleasure getting to know more about her and her work because her voice is incredibly versatile while also being bright and comforting. She has voiced so many different characters from kid voices for both boy and girl characters and adults. Kimberly can be heard in some of your and my favorite animations and video games like Jasper from Steven Universe, Buena Girl from Mucha Lucha!, Stormy from Winx Club, and Oracle from Batman: Arkham City. Her range and her resume are both very vast.
Kevin Michael Richardson
The first place I saw Kevin Michael Richardson was on the documentary I Know That Voice, but of course as with many amazing voice actors, I heard his voice way before. Did you know he voiced Captain Gantu in Lilo & Stich? I have watched Lilo & Stich many times, and I didn’t even know that. His deep voice has provided the perfect portrayal of many villainous characters in both animation and video games, but he also has a strong portfolio of comedic characters as well. Some other places you may have heard Kevin Michael Richardson include but are not limited to: Tyro from Avatar: The Last Airbender, Skulker from Danny Phantom, and Jabba the Hut from Star Wars: The Clone Wars