Outrage as Laverne Cox dubbed by male voice actor in Italian version of 'Promising Young Woman'

Universal Pictures has apologised after Laverne Cox's character was dubbed by a male voice actor in Italian language version of Promising Young Woman.


Emerald Fennel’s critically acclaimed film Promising Young Woman, which was set to be released in Italy on May 13, has been pushed back due to backlash over Laverne Cox being dubbed by a male voice actor in the Italian language version of the film. 

After releasing a clip from the Italian version of the film, titled Una Donna Promettente, there was widespread backlash from Italy’s LGBTQ+ community. The clip revealed that the character Gail played by Laverne Cox in Promising Young Woman would be voiced by male voice actor, Roberto Pedicini. 

In a statement given to The Guardian, Universal Pictures International expressed that:

“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.” 

Continuing on, they added: “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.” 

“I think this dubbing choice was a straight-up act of violence.”

Italian, trans actress and voice actress Vittoria Schisano has said that she thinks “dubbing choice was a straight-up act of violence.” She added that “It’s insulting. I’d feel bullied if I were Cox.” Schisano has previously dubbed Laverne Cox on the Netflix documentary Amend: The Fight for America and even though she does not know of any other trans women voice actors, she wasn’t asked to dub for Cox’s character in Una Donna Promettente

While Italy’s voice actors are overwhelmingly white and cisgender, the issue is not an isolated one. The German and Spanish language versions of the film were also set to be released with cis male voice actors dubbing for Cox’s character Gail. The release of these versions has also been pulled following the outcry in Italy. 

Daniele Giuliani, the President of Associazione Nazionale Attori Doppiatori (ANAD), expressed that they believe the high concentration of cis, white men within the industry is not discriminatory, but rather that “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.”

With that said, the issue of hiring a cis man to voice Laverne’s character in the film appears to be only one part of a larger problem within the Italian media industry.

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