Voice actors exit ‘Family Guy‘ and ‘Simpsons‘ roles as the movement to replace white voice actors who play non-white characters continues to grow.
Following the killing of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter Movement, several white actors have announced they would no longer be voicing animated characters of color. As we recently reported, Jenny Slate announced she will leave the series ‘Big Mouth’ and now Mike Henry has exited from his Cleveland Brown character on ‘Family Guy’.
Via Twitter, Herny explained his exit from his decades-long role saying, “It’s been an honor to play Cleveland on Family Guy for 20 years. I love this character, but persons of color should play characters of color.” The voice actor began voicing the Black character in 1999 and even led the spinoff series ‘The Cleveland Show’ from 2009 to 2013.
It’s been an honor to play Cleveland on Family Guy for 20 years. I love this character, but persons of color should play characters of color. Therefore, I will be stepping down from the role. pic.twitter.com/FmKasWITKT
— Mike Henry (@mikehenrybro) June 26, 2020
In relevant news, ‘The Simpsons’ will no longer use white actors to voice non-white characters. “Moving forward, The Simpsons will no longer have white actors voice non-white characters,” Fox spokesman Les Eisner said in a statement Friday.
For the past thirty years, the show has used White actors to play several non-white characters including Harry Shearer as Dr. Julius Hibbert and Hank Azaria as Apu Nahasapeemapetilon.
White actresses call for animated shows to hire Black actors to play Black characters.
Jenny Slate first created the shift when she announced she would stop voicing Missy Foreman-Greenwald, the character she’s played on Netflix’s ‘Big Mouth’ since the show debuted on Netflix in 2017. The actress said she previously told her self that she was allowed to play the character because her mother was Jewish and white, just like her own mother. She realized that Black characters should be played by Black actors.
Bell plays Molly on Apple TV+’s new series ‘Central Park’. In a statement from the show, she said the “entire creative team recognizes that the casting of Molly is an opportunity to get representation right — to cast a Black or mixed race actress and give Molly a voice that resonates with all of the nuance and experiences of the character as we’ve drawn her.” They added Bell would continue to be part of the show.
Bell released her own statement saying she showed a “lack of awareness of my pervasive privilege” and considered the casting “wrong”.
More recently, Actress Alison Brie has stated regret providing the voice for the Vietnamese American character Diane Nguyen in the Netflix series “BoJack Horseman,” which finished filming this year.
In a statement posted to Instagram on Friday, Brie said that, “in hindsight,” she wishes she did not voice the character and that Diane could’ve been reserved for a person of color.
“I now understand that people of color should always voice people of color,” Brie wrote. “We missed a great opportunity to represent the Vietnamese-American community accurately and respectfully, and for that I am truly sorry. I applaud all those who stepped away from their voiceover roles in recent days. I have learned a lot from them.”
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