In light of #BlackLivesMatter protests and movement, another popular show in the entertainment industry, The Simpsons, have opted to stop using White actors to voice non-white characters.
What We Know:
- White actors from other productions, including Mike Henry of animated series Family Guy and Kristen Bell of Central Park, have also said they will no longer voice characters of color.
- “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,” Henry said on Twitter on Friday.
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
- Producers of The Simpsons have, for years, pushed back against efforts to change the show’s characters, many of which have been portrayed with heavily stereotypical personalities. But Apu, whose character speaks heavily accented English and is in an arranged family with eight children, had been considered highly problematic for years.
- In a 2018 interview on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Hank Azaria, who is the voice of Apu, said that he’d be happy to step aside from Apu and disagreed with how the show handled the criticism.
- “The idea that anybody — young or old, past or present — was bullied or teased based on the character of Apu, it just really makes me sad,” said Azaria, who voices other characters on the show. “It was certainly not my intention,” he said. “I wanted to spread laughter and joy with this character, and the idea that it’s brought pain and suffering in any way, that it was used to marginalize people, it’s upsetting.”
- Some Black actors are ready to step up for those open roles. Wendell Pierce tweeted that he is starting a public campaign to voice the role of Cleveland.
Now that Mike Henry has consciously given up the role of Cleveland,I am publicly starting a campaign to voice the role myself on The Cleveland Show. #WendellIsCleveland @TheClevelandSho @SethMcFarlane_ pic.twitter.com/Ux3F0uk1p6
— Wendell Pierce (@WendellPierce) June 28, 2020
Hollywood and television, which have a long history of racist portrayals and tropes, are facing a kind of reckoning with the advent of protests against racism and police brutality ignited by George Floyd’s killing. Even though it shouldn’t have taken them this long to realize this was always wrong, better late than never.