TV show 'The Simpsons' ditches using white voices for characters of color


The state of play: One character on the show, Apu, was seen as an offensive caricature that "perpetuated ugly stereotypes about South Asians" to many Indian Americans and immigrants, the New York Times' Vikas Bajaj wrote in 2018.

The announcements about the Fox animated series arrive two days after Jenny Slate said she would no longer voice Missy, a biracial character in the Netflix series "Big Mouth", and Kristen Bell said she would no longer voice Molly, a biracial character in the Apple TV Plus series "Central Park".

Producers of "The Simpsons" say white actors will no longer voice non-white characters on the show, while the white actor who plays Cleveland Brown on "Family Guy" is stepping down from the role.

The Simpsons will stop using white actors to voice black and minority ethnic characters, producers have said, amid calls for greater diversity in entertainment.

The 54-year-old voice actor, who is a white man, has voiced the character since the series' debut in 1999.

The Simpsons producers announced that characters of colour like Apu will no longer be voiced by white people. Another Black character on the show, Dr Hibbert, was also portrayed by a white actor, Harry Shearer.

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Friday's statement did not say whether Apu or the other characters would remain on the series.

Earlier this year, Azaria announced that he will no longer be portraying the character of Apu, following increased public pressure of the show's negative representation of Indian-Americans.

The program is syndicated in more than 100 countries.

Henry announced his decision via Twitter, indicating that he, as a white man, could no longer voice a Black character anymore in good conscience.

It comes amid the backdrop of heightened tensions in the USA over racism and race issues following mass protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd, a black American, by police.

"Casting a mixed race character [with a] white actress undermines the specificity of the mixed race and Black American experience", she added.