After weeks of political and social upheaval and increased awareness of the Black Lives Matter movement, several popular animated series have announced that they will no longer employ white actors in the roles of non-white characters.
In the wake of similar statements from the producers and casts of Apple TV’s Central Park and Netflix’s Big Mouth, The Hollywood Reporter reported that the Disney-owned FOX Network sitcom The Simpsons has declared an end to this practice, while Family Guy will recast its lead African-American character Cleveland Brown specifically, according to the actor who plays him.
- The long-running animated sitcoms The Simpsons and Family Guy have announced that characters of color will no longer be voiced by white actors.
- Some of The Simpsons characters affected will presumably be Carl Carlson, Officer Lou, Bumblebee Man (all currently voiced by Hank Azaria), Dr. Hibbert (voiced by Harry Shearer), and Manjula (Tress MacNeille).
- Azaria had previously announced he would be stepping down from his famous role as Kwik-E-Mart owner Apu Nahasapeemapetilon thanks in part to the conversation started by the documentary The Problem with Apu.
- On Family Guy, the show’s central African-American character Cleveland Brown will no longer be voiced by producer Mike Henry, who also plays Cleveland's stepson Rallo Tubbs and Hispanic housekeeper Consuela on the series.
What they’re saying:
- The Simpsons: “Moving forward, The Simpsons will no longer have white actors voice non-white characters.”
- Mike Henry: "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."
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. pic.twitter.com/FmKasWITKT
— Mike Henry (@mikehenrybro) June 26, 2020
The first thirty seasons of The Simpsons are available to stream on Disney+, while Family Guy episodes are housed on the more adult-skewing (but still Disney-owned) Hulu.