Many people remember Cree Summer for her role as Freddie Brooks in “A Different World.” However, after the show, most of her career has been devoted to voice acting and raising her two beautiful daughters.
Cree Summer first appeared on our TV screens in 1988, but her career in entertainment started long before that when she was only an 11-year-old.
Summer’s father, Don Francks, had been cast to be the voice of "Inspector Gadget" in the animated series of the same name. He asked producers to let her read for the role of Penny, and since then, she has voiced more than 100 characters in movies, series, video games, and more.
HER ROLES IN ANIMATION
Cree has lent her voice to some of the most iconic animated characters, like Susie Carmichael from “Rugrats,” Miranda from Nickelodeon's “As Told by Ginger,” Foxxy Love in “Drawn Together,” and Numbuh 5 in Cartoon Network's “Codename: Kids Next Door."
Summer believes there aren't many options for animated black girls in stories because there's a belief that black girls don't enjoy cartoons, comics, or Sci-Fi. The experience is fulfilling for her, as people of color go up to her, saying it means a lot to see cartoons that look like them.
HER DARLING DAUGHTERS
Despite the lack of representation for kids in cartoons, Summer makes sure her daughters are encouraged to embrace their beauty and uniqueness by raising them to be loud and irreverent, like her.
The girls, Brave Littlewing and Hero Peregrine, are regularly featured on Summer’s Instagram account, and despite their young age, they are already outspoken, talented, and smart, just like their mother. They share the same curly hair as their mom, except they have gorgeous gray eyes.
HER BREAKTHROUGH ROLE
Although fans listen to her more than they see her nowadays, Summer was on "A Different World" from 1988 to 1993. She played the role of Freddie, who developed and evolved on the show by finding her activism voice.
34 years after the show's debut, it remains one of the most impactful shows ever made. It laid the groundwork for shows like "Fresh Prince of Bel-Air," "Family Matters," and "Living Single."
Voice actress Cree Summer at the NAACP Image Awards on February 11, 2017. | Source: Getty Images
THE CAST DECADES LATER
Recently, Yvette Lee Bowser, Debbie Allen, Kadeem Hardison, Jasmine Guy, Darryl M. Bell, Susan Fales-Hill, Dawnn Lewis, and Summer recalled the show in their own words in an interview with Vanity Fair.
They narrated their struggles and triumphs on the show, including how they finally started finding their own voice on the show during its second season. That was the same season that Summer was asked to audition.
SUMMER'S DIVERSE CHARACTER
Under Allen's leadership, "A Different World" remained comedic but relevant. There were no off-limit topics, making it relatable to many watching.
According to the actress, the writers learned to adopt snippets of her real life into the show through the years. Throughout the duration of the series, aspects of her upbringing showed up more and more in the character she played.
HER CHARACTER'S GROWTH
In the end, just like her voice acting roles, Freddie's role empowered young girls. Summer revealed that she's had many women and young girls come up to her, saying, "I'm just like Freddie. That's me too."
Her character ended up being a lawyer. It was a far cry from the flower child she was first introduced as, and while Summer didn't want to wear a suit or brush her hair, she understood that characters needed to evolve.
Summer is still pretty busy in the voice acting department. In fact, her IMDB shows at least 15 projects from 2021 alone, the most notable being the return of the child-favorite "Rugrats," where she is reprising her role as Susie.