The Simpsons to no longer have white actors play non-white roles; Family Guy star stops voicing Black character

Family Guy actor Mike Henry, who played Family Guy's protagonist Cleveland Brown, says he is stepping down since 'persons of colour should play characters of colour.'

FP Staff June 27, 2020 10:24:55 IST
The Simpsons to no longer have white actors play non-white roles; Family Guy star stops voicing Black character

Family Guy voice actor Mike Henry said on Friday, 26 June, he is stepping down from the role of Cleveland Brown on the Fox animated series.

Henry wrote on Twitter that he will stop playing the show’s main Black character because “persons of colour should play characters of colour.”

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

Henry had also voiced the Latin maid named Consuela on the series.

Read Henry's tweet below

Meanwhile, producers of animated TV comedy The Simpsons have announced that they are also ending the use of white actors to voice characters of colour.

“Moving forward, The Simpsons will no longer have white actors voice non-white characters,” they said in a brief statement.

The statement did not elaborate but the move follows years of public pressure about the Fox television show’s Indian convenience store character Apu, who is voiced by Hank Azaria.

Azaria said earlier this year that he would no longer play the character, which has been criticized as a negative portrayal of Indian-Americans.

Azaria has also voiced the Simpsons characters of Black police officer Lou and the Mexican-American Bumblebee Man. Harry Shearer has played Dr Hibbert, who is Black.

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

Bumbling Homer Simpson, housewife Marge, troublemaker Bart, prodigy Lisa, and baby Maggie, have captured the changing face of America for more than 30 years in the longest-running scripted show on US television.

The Simpsons is syndicated in more than 100 countries.

The announcements come amidst a widespread reckoning for US pop culture about racism following mass protests this month over the killings of Black Americans by police.

(Also read — Avengers actor Don Cheadle tells Jimmy Fallon he's been pulled over by police 'more times than I can count')

(Also read — Spike Lee believes his new film Da 5 Bloods is relevant in wake of racial issues being addressed worldwide)

Voice actors Jenny Slate and Kristen Bell — who are white — also recently pulled out of their roles to recast their biracial characters with someone of colour. Slate played the mixed-raced Missy on Netflix’s Big Mouth and Bell was voiced as Molly on Apple TV+ show Central Park.

(Also read — George Floyd death: The Academy, Disney, Netflix, among others take a stand against racism amid US protests)

Slate said she initially reasoned that she could play her character, because Molly’s mother is Jewish and white, just like her mom. But now, she understands that her initial thoughts were wrong.

“I acknowledge how my original reasoning was flawed,” Slate said. “That it existed as an example of white privilege and unjust allowances made within a system of societal white supremacy, and that in me playing Missy, I was engaging in an act of erasure of Black people.

(With inputs from agencies)

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