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Cree Summer Francks (born July 7, 1969), best known as Cree Summer, is a Canadian American actress, musician and voice actress. She is perhaps best known for her role as college student Winifred "Freddie" Brooks on the NBC sitcom A Different World. As a voice actress Summers is best known for voicing Susie Carmichael on Rugrats, and All Grown Up, Princess Kida in Atlantis: The Lost Empire, Valerie Gray in Danny Phantom, Foxxy Love in Drawn Together, and Numbuh 5 in Codename: Kids Next Door.

Early life and family

Summer was born in Los Angeles, Californiamarker in 1969, but grew up on the Red Pheasant Reserve in Saskatchewanmarker. She is the daughter of Canadian actor Don Francks and Canadian Lili Red Eagle, a member of the Plains Cree First Nations. Her brother, Rainbow Sun Francks, is a former MuchMusicmarker VJ and former cast member of the television show Stargate Atlantis.

Acting and voice acting career

Summer's career began in 1983 when she was cast as the voice of niece Penny on the original cartoon version of Inspector Gadget. Her unique, throaty voice was instantly recognizable to casting agents (as well as viewers even today), who began frequently casting her in animated programs. Many of these were part of cult franchises, like The Care Bears Movie (1985) and Ewoks (1985, part of the Star Wars franchise).

Audiences finally had a chance to put Summer's voice to a face when she was cast as the Afrocentric Winifred "Freddie" Brooks in The Cosby Show spin-off A Different World. Summer, a multiracial woman (of Black, Native American, and white descent) who wears her hair in a large afro-style, proved to have an appearance as unique as her voice. She remained a regular cast member of the show from 1988 through its end in 1993.

During the run of A Different World, Summer continued working in voice acting. She was cast in the short-lived television series Sweet Justice in 1994 until its cancellation in 1995. Barring guest appearances on other live-action television shows such as Living Single and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Summer's professional work since has been limited to voice acting.

In all, Summer has voiced over 100 animated characters between 1983 and 2006, many of them African-American girls. These have spanned the realm of video games, cartoon television series, animated films and commercials. Among her most famous roles was in Tiny Toon Adventures (1990) as Elmyra Duff (which she reprised for Pinky, Elmyra & the Brain) and Mary Melody, Aka Pella in Histeria!, Susie Carmichael in Rugrats and its spin-off All Grown Up!, Foxxy Love in Drawn Together, Dulcy the dragon in Sonic the Hedgehog, Princess 'Kida' Kidagakash for Disney's Atlantis: The Lost Empire, Valerie Gray in Danny Phantom (2004), Numbuh 5 and Cree Lincoln in Codename: Kids Next Door, Penelope in Barbie As Rapunzel and Miranda from As Told by Ginger, Tiff on My Life as a Teenage Robot, octogenerian villain Granny May on WordGirl and Blackarachnia in Transformers Animated (2008).

In the first season Drawn Together DVD commentary she stated that she was originally hired to do the voice of Meg Griffin on FOX's animated series Family Guy, but was fired as she didn't have the right voice.

Summer is a frequent co-star of Canadianmarker-Americanmarker actress Tara Strong: the two are childhood friends, both having grown up in Toronto, Ontariomarker .

Music career

Summer has been singing since an early age and joined her first band at 13. In 1990, she sang background vocals on two tracks for fellow A Different World cast member Jasmine Guy's self titled LP. In 1993 she released an album (as lead singer) with her band Subject to Change. The album was not officially released by Capitol Recordsmarker because of creative differences; the records that were produced were distributed as promotions and are considered a rarity. The band, with an aggressive political message and rock-soul fusion sound, remained popular as a co-headlining act with other performers. In 1999, Summer released her solo album Street Faërie produced by and featuring guest artist (and friend) Lenny Kravitz, but the album was not hugely successful. Although Summer toured as Kravitz's opening act, her label dropped her and a planned spot with Lilith Fair was canceled. The label continued to promote the album, however, sending out a four-track sampler to radio and issuing remix singles of the track "Revelation Sunshine" in Europe, with a special single specifically for Austriamarker.

Summer recorded a song titled "Savior Self" for which she directed a music video co-starring Lisa Bonet. The video was screened online, but the track was never made available commercially, nor was it distributed to radio.

A number of Summer's portrayed characters (animated or otherwise) are singers or sing songs within the soundtrack of a show. The character of Susie in All Grown Up! was portrayed as a singer with real talent, allowing Summer to sing in the role . The character of Foxxy Love in Drawn Together was a singer, with songs like "La-La-Labia." She co-performed lead vocals in the song "Cool Kitty" with Tara Strong, which accompanied a cartoon called Class of 3000, directed and written for Cartoon Network by André 3000.

Filmography

Animated series roles



Film roles



Live-action TV show roles



Video game roles



Discography

Albums



Singles



References

  1. Drawn Together "Hot Tub" DVD commentary
  2. Inside The "All Grown Up" Series


External links




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