Cree Summer is the undisputed queen of voice acting.
The 51-year-old actor has played many notable live-action roles, like her portrayal of the spiritually liberated Winifred "Freddie" Brooks on A Different World, but it's her voice work on animated films that have kept her extremely busy the last three decades.
Summer's voice is unmistakable no matter what character she plays. She provides authenticity to Black characters while endearing them to children of different races, as well. Her body of work is worthy of a place in Black and pop culture history.
With numerous character voice roles to her name, these are some of Cree Summer's best.
Inspector Gadget is one of the many iconic characters to emerge during the animation boom of the '80s. The bumbling detective with built-in enhancements maintained his popularity throughout various iterations and also gave Summer her first voice acting role.
Summer played the main protagonist's niece, Penny. She and her dog, Brain, kept her accident-prone uncle out of danger when he solved cases. While Uncle Gadget received the glory for foiling Dr. Claw's dastardly deeds, Penny's advanced intelligence and concern for his safety were the reason M.A.D never prevailed.
The premiere of Disney's The Proud Family was a pivotal moment for Black representation in animation. There were cartoons centered around Black characters before, but none penetrated mainstream the way Oscar Proud and his family did. The series is also famous for its cameos from the elite in Black entertainment.
Summer landed a recurring role as the Proud's young meddling neighbor, Peabo. Peabo's annoying disposition was a reflection of his crush on Penny Proud and his admiration of Oscar. Even though Oscar didn't care too much for his presence, Peabo's love for his inedible Proud Snacks kept him around.
Cree Summer's animated roles extended beyond cute and cuddly characters. She's the voice behind a multitude of hard-hitting heroines in cartoon history, including the anti-hero Valrie Grey from the Nickelodeon animated series Danny Phantom.
Valerie's life goes from average high school student to ghost hunter after a run-in with Danny and his ghost dog at her dad's job. His termination causes him and Valerie to downgrade their quality of life, which compels her to try to exterminate Danny in a plot for revenge.
Cartoon Network's Codename: Kids Next Door takes on juvenile espionage delighted children, young adults, and parents. Audiences identified with each agent's unique temperament and skill set, no matter their age.
Abigail "Abby" Lincoln, AKA Numbuh 5, is the second-in-command and the most relatable character on the popular kid's show. Her easy-going, intelligent nature is similar to the woman who played her for six seasons.
For many pre-teens, junior high school can be a chaotic time in their young lives. Discovering who they are as they develop physically, mentally, and emotionally makes for a rollercoaster of emotions. The ups and downs of adolescence are documented in the coming of age Nickelodeon original animated series, As Told by Ginger.
Courtney Gripling is enamored with the main character, Ginger Foutley. But her best friend and sidekick, Miranda Killgallen (played by Summer) isn't the least bit amused by her authentic temperament and tries to take her down a peg every chance she gets.
Taking memorable cartoons from the '70s and '80s and turning them into kid's shows was a trend in the early '90s. Shows like The Flintstones and Scooby-Doo got a pint-size makeover to appeal to a new generation of children. Arguably the most popular reboot is the Looney Tunes inspired Tiny Toon Adventures.
Buster and Babs Bunny were the stars of the show, but Cree Summer's role as the overly affectionate Elmyra Duff stole the hearts of its young audience. Elmyra's precocious but overbearing personality opened the door for Summer to play the character in spin-offs and films.
There are cartoons from the '90s, and then there's Rugrats. Not only was it one of the first shows featured in Nickelodeon's Nicktoons lineup, but it's a beloved childhood favorite amongst millennials. The adventures of Tommy Pickles and his friends captured the imaginations of mischievous toddlers everywhere.
Tommy's cousin Angelica was the dark cloud looking to ruin the babies' day, but Suzie Carmichael acted as their ray of sunshine. Suzie's optimism and helpful attitude was the complete opposite of Angelica's mean sociopathic temperament. Angelica and Susie's love-hate relationship put them in competition for the babies' adulation.
She may have only been a recurring character, but Susie may be Cree Summer's crowning achievement as a voice actor.
Are we missing your favorite character voiced by Cree Summer?
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