From Child Star to Voice Acting Legend

From Child Star to Voice Acting Legend

The American-Canadian singer and voice actress, Cree Summer, has voiced iconic characters in various animated TV series, including “Tiny Toon Adventures” and “Rugrats”, and is perhaps best known for her appearance in the sitcom “A Different World.”

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 Age, Early Life, and Education Background

Cree Summer Francks hails from Los Angeles, California, and was born under the Cancer zodiac sign on 7 July 1969, which makes her 54 years old as of 2023. She is the daughter of the late Canadian musician and singer, Don Francks aka Iron Buffalo, and actress Lili ‘Red Eagle’ Francks. Cree’s younger brother is the actor, Rainbow Sun Francks, who has also served as a video jockey (VJ) for the Canadian music video TV channel, MuchMusic. She has two older step-siblings, Trane Francks, and Tyler Francks, from her father’s first marriage with the clerical worker Nancy Sue Johnson. Summer spent her childhood in Canada, in Ontario, British Columbia, and Saskatchewan.

Cree often calls herself a ‘daddy’s girl’ in interviews because she’s very close to her father – calls him ‘iron daddy’ – who introduced her to the world of voice acting when she was a child, and to music at a young age and her other childhood musical influences were Al Green, Frank Zappa and Dinah Washington.

Summer began attending an unnamed public elementary school in Toronto, Ontario, when she was nine years old – she had a very hard time adjusting to school because of joining late. It’s reported that she quit school when she was 16 – back then, the actress had begun her career and could even afford a car.

Career – Music

Summer was 13 years old when she joined her first band. She recorded the theme song for the Canadian kid’s educational show “OWL/TV” in 1985, and in 1991, formed the rock band Subject to Change, and recorded an album in 1993 – however, the album wasn’t officially released by Capitol Records due to creative differences; instead, the records produced are considered a rarity and were distributed as promotions.

Cree sings the theme song for the animated series “All Grown Ups!” Moreover, she performed the cover of the song “Dirty Love” by Zappa in “The Frank Zappa AAAFNRAAA Birthday Bundle” in 2008, together with Dweezil Zappa and Ahmet Zappa who were on guitar and back-up vocals respectively.

Voicing and Acting

Summer landed her first voicing role as Penny in the first season of the animated sci-fi comedy series “Inspector Gadget” in 1983. She instantly gained recognition for her husky and unique voice, and casting agents frequently selected her for voicing roles, such that  between 1983 and 2006, Cree voiced over 100 animated characters in video games, commercials, animated films, and cartoon series. In 1988, she landed the role of the free-spirited Winifred Brooks in the spin-off of the sitcom “The Cosby Show” entitled “A Different World”, appearing for five years until the show ended in 1993. Afterwards Cree continued working as a voice actress and was subsequently seen in several animated series including “Sweet Justice” in 1995.

Summer is famously known for voicing Elmyra Duff in Tom Ruegger’s animated series “Tiny Toon Adventures” (1990-1992), Susie in both the Nickelodeon TV series “Rugrats” (1993-2004) and “All Grown Up!” (2003-2008), and Cleo the Poodle in the animated kid’s show “Clifford the Big Red Dog” (2000-2003), among many others. Cree was selected to voice Foxxy (and other characters) in the Comedy Central adult animated sitcom “Drawn Together” in 2004. She has revealed that Foxxy is her favorite character, saying that she appreciated her political incorrectness and irreverence – she voiced the character for four years.

In the 2010s, Cree voiced characters in various TV shows, including “The Tom and Jerry Show” (2014), “Dinotrux” (2015-2018), “Dawn of the Croods” (2015-2017), and “Voltron: Legendary Defender” (2016-2018), among many others. She began voicing Bunny Star in Nickelodeon’s “The Patrick Star Show” in 2021, and Raishan in Amazon Prime Video’s “The Legend of Vox Machina” in 2022.

Cree has voiced various characters in the video games “Tiny Toon Adventures: Toonenstein,” “Marvel Super Hero Squad,” “Lego DC Super-Villains,” and many others. She’s also lent her voice to various commercials for brands such as McDonald’s, M&M’s, Kotex, and many others.

Awards and Nominations

Cree has won five Behind the Voice Actors (BTVA) Awards for her performances in “Voltron: Legendary Defender,” “Guardians of the Galaxy,” and “Robot and Monster.” She also scooped an Image Award (NAACP) for Outstanding Character Voice-Over Performance (Television) for her performance in “Rugrats.” Moreover, the talented voice artist has also been nominated for various awards including a Daytime Emmy Award and Black Reel Awards for Television.

Social Media Presence

Cree has almost 500,000 followers on Instagram (@iamcreesummer). She joined Twitter in August 2012 and is followed by around 95,000 fans (@IAmCreeSummer) as of 2023. Summer is fond of posting her photos together with her daughters, whom she jokingly calls ‘savages.’ She also likes giving her political views on her various social media platforms.

Personal Life

Cree is a divorced woman. She hasn’t disclosed the exact date she walked the aisle with the Canadian photographer and filmmaker, Angelo Pullen, however, it is widely known that they spent over a decade together before they parted ways in May 2022. Pullen adopted Cree’s son, Miles Franklin (born in April 1998) when they exchanged vows. The former couple welcomed two daughters together: Brave Littlewing Pullens, born in March 2011, and Hero Peregrine Pullens in January 2013.

Cree was previously dating her “A Different World” co-star, Kadeem Hardison before she married Pullen. Although their relationship lasted for only one year, the duo remained friends and continued to have a good professional relationship.

Height, Weight, and Physical Appearance

Summer is of African-American ethnicity from her mother’s side, and has a pair of brown eyes and black hair. She is slimly built, weighs about 130lbs (59kgs), is 5ft 4ins (1.63m) tall, and has  vital statistics of 32-26-32. Summer wears shoe and dress sizes 7(US) and 6(US) respectively. Some of her distinctive features include curly hair and a dimpled smile. She likes wearing hats – her sense of fashion was inspired by her mom, who was fond of wearing flowery dresses and fascinating hats.

Net Worth

Summer’s four-decade-long voice acting career has made her a household name, and has also seen her amass a good net worth. She also earns from brand endorsement deals, and is worth approximately $4 million as of 2023.

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