'The Simpsons' to stop using white actors to voice non-white characters

White voice actors from other animated shows, including ‘Family Guy’ and ‘Central Park’, have stepped back from roles


The Simpsons will stop using white actors to voice characters of colour, the producers of the animated comedy series announced.

"Moving forward, The Simpsons will no longer have white actors voice non-white characters," the show's producers said in a succinct statement on Friday, June 26, without elaborating on who will be cast to voice characters of colour.

The decision follows years of controversy regarding its portrayal of the show’s Indian convenience-store owner, Apu, who was voiced by Hank Azaria for 30 years.

Apu from “The Simpsons,” a convenience-store owner voiced by Hank Azaria with a thick Indian accent. Associated Press

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.

Azaria was also the voice behind other non-white characters on The Simpsons, including black police officer Lou and the Bumblebee Man, who is Mexican-American. Another black character on the show, Dr Hibbert, was also portrayed by a white actor, Harry Shearer. The show is one of Fox Network's most popular shows and syndicated in more than 100 countries.

Changes to be made across animated shows 

A number of white actors have recently announced that they will step back from voicing non-white characters on animated shows. Mike Henry, who has been the voice of Cleveland Brown, a black character on Family Guy for 20 years, announced that he will be stepping down from the role.

"It's been an honour to play Cleveland on Family Guy for 20 years. I love this character, but persons of colour should play characters of colour," Henry tweeted on Saturday, June 27. Henry also voiced the character on the spin-off The Cleveland, which aired its final episode in 2013.

The Good Place star Kristen Bell also announced that she would no longer be portraying Molly, a mixed-race character in the Apple TV's new cartoon series Central Park, saying that doing so showed "a lack of awareness of my pervasive privilege".

“Casting a mixed race character [with a] white actress undermines the specificity of the mixed race and black American experience,” she said in her statement.

"It was wrong and we, on the Central Park team, are pledging to make it right. I am happy to relinquish this role to someone who can give a much more accurate portrayal and I will commit to learning, growing and doing my part for equality and inclusion."


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