Jenny Slate announced that she will no longer voice the character of Missy on Netflix’s Big Mouth, having concluded that as a white woman, it was inappropriate for her to portray a Black character.
“At the start of the show, I reasoned with myself that it was permissible for me to play ‘Missy’ because her mom is Jewish and White—as am I,” Slate wrote on Instagram. “But ‘Missy’ is also Black, and Black characters on an animated show should be played by Black people.”
Nick Kroll, the show’s creator, also put out a statement, saying that “After thoughtful discussion with us and our Black collaborators, Jenny Slate has decided, and we wholeheartedly agree, that Missy on Big Mouth should be voiced by a Black actor.
“We sincerely apologize for and regret our original decision to cast a White actor to voice a biracial character. We made a mistake, took our privilege for granted, and we’re working hard to do better moving forward.”
Slate has already recorded the show’s fourth season, which will air later this year. After that, Netflix will recast her role.
Similarly, the team behind the Apple animated series Central Park announced that Kristen Bell will no longer be playing the role of Molly Tillerman, who is mixed race.
“We profoundly regret that we might have contributed to anyone’s feeling of exclusion or erasure,” the statement reads. “Black people and people of color have worked and will continue to work on Central Park but we can do better. We’re committed to creating opportunities for people of color and Black people in all roles, on all our projects—behind the mic, in the writers room, in production, and in post-production. Animation will be stronger for having as many voices, experiences, and perspectives as we can possibly bring into the industry.”
Earlier this week, episodes of both 30 Rock and Scrubs that featured characters in blackface were pulled from streaming services.