The Simpsons to stop white actors voicing non-white characters

The Simpsons is ending the use of white actors to voice black and ethnic minority characters, producers have said.

The move follows years of controversy about the issue and calls for greater diversity within the entertainment industry.

It also comes against a backdrop of heightened tensions in the US about racism, following mass protests over the killing of black Americans by police, sparked by the death of George Floyd.

PASADENA, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 16: Hank Azaria of "Brockmire" speaks during the IFC segment of the 2020 Winter TCA Press Tour at The Langham Huntington, Pasadena on January 16, 2020 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Amy Sussman/Getty Images)
Image:Hank Azaria confirmed in January he would no longer perform the role of Apu

In a statement, the Fox network, which broadcasts the show, said: “Moving forward, The Simpsons will no longer have white actors voice non-white characters.”

The Simpsons, which has been on the air since 1989 and is syndicated in more than 100 countries, had faced public pressure for years over for having Hank Azaria, who is white, voicing Indian shopkeeper Apu.

Azaria said in January he would no longer perform the role, which had been criticised for reinforcing racial stereotypes.

He has also voiced the Simpsons characters of black police officer Lou and the Mexican-American Bumblebee Man.

More from Black Lives Matter

  • F1 condemns former boss Bernie Ecclestone’s comments about racism

  • Making a manager: Chris Hughton, Chris Kamara and more tell their stories of being BAME coaches

  • Black Lives Matter: Donald Trump criticises plan for mural in front of his Manhattan tower

  • The Dixie Chicks change their name over backlash

  • Kristen Bell will no longer voice mixed-race Central Park character Molly Tillerman

  • Black Lives Matter: Chanda Rubin delighted to see people standing up in solidarity

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.

— Mike Henry (@mikehenrybro) June 26, 2020

Another white actor – Harry Shearer – voiced the character of Dr Hibbert, who is black.

The Simpsons announcement followed similar steps by another popular animated show.

Mike Henry, a white actor, who had lent his voice to Family Guy character Cleveland Brown since 1999, said on Twitter he was stepping down.

He said: “It’s been an honour to play Cleveland on Family Guy for 20 years. I love this character, but persons of colour should play characters of colour. Therefore, I will be stepping down from the role.”

Earlier this week Frozen star Kristen Bell revealed she too would no longer be lending her voice to a non-white character in Apple TV+ comedy Central Park.

In a statement on Instagram, Bell said her playing Molly, a mixed-race character, “shows a lack of awareness of my pervasive privilege”.

And actress Jenny Slate announced she will no longer voice a black character in the animated series Big Mouth, saying her taking the role was “engaging in an act of erasure of black people”.

Mark Gibson

Graduates in Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 1990. Move to Los Angeles California in 2004. Specialized in Internet journalism.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *