Following weeks of protests around the world focused on the injustices of black people, several white voice actors will no longer be voicing the animated characters they made famous, making way for actors of colour to voice them instead.
First came word from the producers of The Simpsons who announced that they will no longer be letting white actors voice POC characters. The show has come under fire in the past for actor Hank Azaria voicing Indian-American immigrant Apu Nahasapeemapetilon. Azaria left the show earlier this year after voicing that character (and many others) for the past 31 years and now the show will look to replace other character’s voices with more race appropriate actors as well.
This announcement doesn’t just affect the character of Apu, but also Officer Lou, Carl, Dr Hibbert, Judge Snyder, Drederick Tatum, Bernice Hibbert, and Janey who were all voiced by white actors. With many of these being smaller roles, The Simpsons initially had these actors provide the voices for many different characters. With them stepping down, this will mean not only changing who provides the voices to these characters fans have come to know, but also an increase in the number of voice actors they employ to bring the many episodes to life. It will be interesting to see how fans of the show respond to these changes in the coming seasons.
It’s not just The Simpsons that is taking this step though, as both Jenny Slate (who voiced biracial character Missy on Netflix’s Big Mouth) and Kristen Bell (who also voice a biracial character Apple TV+’s Central Park) have announced that they are resigning from their respective voice roles to allow for actors of colour to voice them instead. Similarly, actor Mike Henry posted on social media that he was stepping down from voicing a Black character on Fox’s Family Guy called Cleveland Brown.
I think these are welcome changes in an industry which has for far too long allowed white people to voice these characters and thereby reduced the number of roles available for non-white actors. It shows an industry starting to address some of their bad practices from the past and will hopefully lead to improved diversity across all shows involved and animated shows in future.
Last Updated: June 29, 2020