‘The Simpsons’ will no longer use white actors for non-white roles
The debate over white actor Hank Azaria being the voice of Simpsons' character Apu, who is Indian, lasted for two years following Hari Kondabolu's documentary The Problem With Apu before Azaria announced in January that he would, after 30 years, no longer be playing the role. Neither FOX nor The Simpsons, however, had yet to make a statement. Now they have, and it affects more than just Apu. "Moving forward, The Simpsons will no longer have white actors voice non-white characters," Fox spokesman Les Eisner said in a statement on Friday.
Over the course of 30+ seasons, Azaria has been the voice of many non-white characters on The Simpsons, including Homer's friend and nuclear power plant co-worker Carl, police deputy Lou, and Dr. Nick Riviera. Harry Shearer, meanwhile, voiced Dr Hibbert, Apu's brother, Sanjay (and once, OJ Simpson). Both Azaria and Shearer voice dozens of recurring characters on The Simpsons.
Meanwhile, Mike Henry, the white actor who has voiced black character Cleveland Brown on FOX series' Family Guy (and spinoff The Cleveland Show), has announced he will no longer do the role. In a statement on Twitter, Henry wrote "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."
This week also saw Jenny Slate stepping down from playing mixed-race character Missy on Netflix animated series Big Mouth, and Kristen Bell stepping down from playing mixed-race character Molly on Apple TV+ animated series Central Park.