Soul: Phylicia Rashad & Angela Bassett on Voicing Animated Black Women

When it comes to diversity in animated movies, at least in Western animated movies, it tends to be a bit lacking, to say the least. There are countless stories about similar-looking white people, but when it comes to people and women of color on screen, their appearances tend to be regulated to the indie territory. Pixar is taking steps in the right direction with Coco and now Soul, which is one of the rare times that black women specifically are shown on screen. We got to attend the global virtual press conference for Soul, and Angela Bassett and Phylicia Rashad, who voice jazz musician Dorthea and Joe's mother Libba, respectively, were asked about portraying black women and what that means in this day and age. Bassett spoke about how important it is to show these stories early, so kids learn about diversity at a young age.
Well, you're right. There aren't many. And I've been fortunate enough to portray a handful of them. It means a great deal, the more and more that we get these stories and these images and opportunities out there. You know, we think of animation usually for the youngsters. But it's also, you know, families are talking. So, if we get to start early with these images and this idea that it's a vast and diverse humanity. I think it's a great thing.
Soul: Kemp Powers Talks About the Importance of the Cultural Trust
In Disney and Pixar's "Soul," a middle-school band teacher named Joe Gardner gets the chance of a lifetime to play the piano in a jazz quartet headed by the great Dorothea Williams. Featuring Jamie Foxx as the voice of Joe Gardner and Angela Bassett as the voice of Dorothea, "Soul" will debut exclusively on Disney+ (where Disney+ is available) on December 25, 2020. © 2020 Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

On the other hand, Rashad is very much looking forward to the day that this sort of question doesn't need to be asked anymore and how Soul is a natural progression considering the rest of her career.

Oh, I think the same thing. Of course, ugh, I don't know. Everything I've ever done… Most things I've done work in were really specific to African American people. This has been true of my work in theater. It's certainly been true of my work in film and television. So it seems quite natural to me that I should be doing what I'm doing. And this [Soul], it just seems very natural to me. I look forward to a time when it is so natural to everyone, that this question need not be asked.
It is a shame that something as simple as having multiple black women on screen is something to make note of, but that is the world we're living in right now. Hopefully, Soul and other POC focused movies will continue the push progress forward until, as Rashad said, we live in a world where it isn't a novelty anymore.
A musician who has lost his passion for music is transported out of his body and must find his way back with the help of an infant soul learning about herself.

Soul, directed by Pete Docter and co-directed by Kemp Powers, stars Jamie Foxx, Tina Fey, Daveed Diggs, Phylicia Rashad, and John Ratzenberger. It will be released on Disney+ on December 25th.

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About Kaitlyn Booth

Kaitlyn is the Editor-in-Chief at Bleeding Cool. She loves movies, television, and comics. She's a member of the UFCA and the GALECA. Feminist. Writer. Nerd. Follow her on twitter @katiesmovies and @safaiagem on instagram. She's also a co-host at The Nerd Dome Podcast. Listen to it at
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