Several animated TV series, including long-running hits, have made a decision to no longer use white actors for the voices of characters from other ethnic backgrounds.
Fox Entertainment revealed Friday that “moving forward, The Simpsons will no longer have white actors voice non-white characters,” according to a statement.
The show has faced years of criticism over white actor Hank Azaria’s voiceover of Indian-American character Apu Nahasapeemapetilon.
Azaria voiced multiple characters of color on the long-running animated hit. In addition to Apu, an Indian-American immigrant who owned a convenience store, he voiced the recurring character Carlton Carlson, Jr., an African American Buddhist and friend and co-worker to the main character Homer Simpson. He also played minor characters of color, including a black police officer named Lou and Mexican-American Bumblebee Man.
But Apu has has been voiced by Azaria for 30 years.
“We respect Hank’s journey in regard to Apu. We have granted his wish to no longer voice the character,” the executive producers of “The Simpsons” said in a statement.
Azaria isn’t the only one stepping aside as the entertainment industry has come under growing pressure to provide more opportunities for non-white performers in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests.
Here are some others:
Jenny Slate: Slate voiced Missy, a biracial character, on Netflix’s original series “Big Mouth.” She said in a statement on Instagram that she originally felt comfortable playing Missy because of the racial background of the character’s mother, who is Jewish and white. Slate, who is also Jewish and white, decided she could no longer portray Missy, who is part African-American.
“Ending my portrayal of ‘Missy’ is one step in a life-long process of uncovering the racism in my actions,” she said in the statement.
She had been voicing Missy since 2017.
Harry Shearer: Like Azaria, Shearer announced he would be stepping away from his roles playing characters of color on “The Simpsons.” He also voiced the African-American Buddhist Carlton Carlson, Jr., and played Dr. Julius Hibbert, an African-American doctor, among many other characters. He has been voice acting with the franchise since 1989.
Mike Henry: Henry for two decades voiced “Family Guy’s” Cleveland Brown, an African-American. He also voiced Cleveland as the main character on the “Family Guy’s” spinoff, “The Cleveland Show.”
“It’s been an honor to play Cleveland on ‘Family Guy’ for 20 years,” Henry stated in a statement. “I love this character, but persons of color should play characters of color. Therefore, I will be stepping down from the role.”
Kristen Bell: The star from the “Frozen” franchise debuted last month as Molly, a mixed-race character in “Central Park.” Within a month of the premiere date on May 29, Bell stepped down from the role, saying it was “time to acknowledge our acts of complicity.”
“Playing the character of Molly on ‘Central Park’ shows a lack of awareness of my pervasive privilege,” Bell said in a statement on Instagram. “Casting a mixed race character with a white actress undermines the specificity of the mixed race and Black American experience.”