- “The Simpsons” will no longer have white actors voicing non-white characters, according to a statement released by producers on Friday.
- The move comes five months after white actor Hank Azaria said he would step down from voicing Indian-American character Apu Nahasapeemapetilon on the hit show.
- The announcement comes amid a wider consideration of systemic racism in the media and entertainment industry.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
The producers of “The Simpsons” said on Friday that they would stop using white actors to play non-white characters amid a broader discussion about systemic racism in the media and entertainment industry.
“Moving forward, ‘The Simpsons’ will no longer have white actors voice non-white characters,” the statement said.
The statement did not elaborate further but comes five months after white actor Hank Azaria said he would step down from voicing Indian-American character Apu Nahasapeemapetilon after heavy criticism.
It is unclear whether Apu or any other characters would remain on the series.
Other non-white characters in “The Simpsons” who are voiced by white actors include Homer Simpson’s best friend, Carl Carlson, who is also played by Azaria, and the Simpson family doctor, Dr. Hibbert, voiced by Harry Shearer.
Shearer also voiced Sanjay Nahasapeemapetilon, Apu’s brother.
“The Simpsons”, which is broadcast by Fox Network and made its series debut in 1989, has faced years of criticism for reinforcing racist stereotypes.
The show’s announcement comes amid a wider consideration of systemic racism in media and entertainment, following country-wide demonstrations over the killing of George Floyd and other Black Americans at the hands of police.
Actor Mike Henry, who is white, wrote in a tweet that he would no longer play the role of “Family Guy”‘s Cleveland Brown, a black character who has been part of the series since 1999.
“It’s been an honor to play Cleveland on ‘Family Guy’ for 20 years,” Henry wrote. “I love this character, but persons of color should play characters of color. Therefore, I will be stepping down from the role.”
Other white actors, including Jenny Slate and Kristen Bell, said that they would stop playing non-white characters on animated shows.
Bell, who played a mixed-race character called Molly in the “Central Park” series created by Apple TV+, said in a statement that the casting had undermined “the specificity of the mixed-race and Black American experience.”
Slate, who voiced Missy on Netflix’s show “Big Mouth” also stepped down, writing in a statement that she was “engaging in an act of erasure of Black people” by playing the role, according to the New York Times.
Azaria stepped down from voicing Apu earlier this year after the documentary “The Problem with Apu” was released. Comedian Haru Kondabolu argued the character was problematic because he helped drive the stereotype of South Asians.
- Read more:
- 18 times ‘The Simpsons’ accurately predicted the future
- The producer of ‘The Simpsons’ denies rumors that the series is coming to end after its 30-year run
- ‘The Simpsons’ predicted Daenerys Targaryen’s big plot twist on ‘Game of Thrones’ 2 years ago
- ‘The Simpsons’ is dismissing critics who say one of its characters is racist — and people are furious