'The Simpsons' and 'Family Guy' Will No Longer Have White Actors Voicing Non-White Characters

June 29, 2020
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    “The Simpsons” and "Family Guy" are making some changes.

    Fox, the network for the long-running sitcoms, announced on Friday that it would begin to diversify casting for 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, per CNN. 

    For over three decades, the animated sitcom used white actors such as Harry Shearer and Hank Azaria to voice non-white characters Dr. Julius Hibbert and Carl Carlson, respectively.

    Azaria also famously voiced American-Indian character Apu Nahasapeemapetilon. In January, he announced he would no longer lend his voice to the Kwik-E-Mart owner. His announcement followed a 2017 documentary, “The Problem With Apu,” by comedian Hari Kondabolu, who claimed the character is offensive, racially insensitive, and a stereotypical mockery of Indian-Americans.

    Azaria revealed, “All we know there is I won’t be doing the voice anymore unless there’s some way to transition it or something," adding, "What they’re going to do with the character is their call. It’s up to them and they haven’t sorted it out yet. All we’ve agreed on is I won’t do the voice anymore.”

    Azaria confirmed that it was a mutual decision between him and the show creators, adding, "We all feel like it's the right thing and good about it."

    The move comes as the entertainment industry confronts controversial depictions of race in TV shows and movies following sweeping nationwide protests against systematic racism and police brutality stemming from the tragic George Floyd murder.

    Fox’s other animated success, “Family Guy,” made a similar announcement.

    Mike Henry, who has voiced the Cleveland Brown character for two decades, said he is stepping down from the role.

    "It’s been an honor to play Cleveland on Family Guy for 20 years," Henry wrote on Twitter, adding, "I love this character, but persons of color should play characters of color. Therefore, I will be stepping down from the role."

    In addition, Kristen Bell also took a stand saying that she would no longer voice the biracial character Molly on the AppleTV+ animated series "Central Park" as it showed a "lack of awareness of my pervasive privilege."

    "Casting a mixed race character with a white actress undermines the specificity of the mixed race and Black American experience. It was wrong and we, on the Central Park team, are pledging to make it right. I am happy to relinquish this role to someone who can give a much more accurate portrayal and I will commit to learning, growing and doing my part for equality and inclusion,” she wrote on Instagram.

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