For years, white actors have been tapped to voice non-white roles on animated TV shows. The most popular and prominent actor to do so was Hank Azaria, who voiced the controversial character Apu on The Simpsons. After years of back of forth, it was only announced recently that he would step back from the role. Currently, someone new is being sought to play the character.
And over the past few weeks, during the various marches for equality throughout the world, several other white actors and actresses have made the conscious decision to let actual people of color voice characters of color on various other animated sitcoms.
Just last week, Kristen Bell and Jenny Slate left their roles on Apple TV+’s Central Park and Netflix’s Big Mouth respectively.
More recently Mike Henry, known as Cleveland Brown on Family Guy, announced via Twitter that he will no longer be voicing the character too.
“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.”Mike Henry (via twitter)
While The Simpsons and Family Guy were the most notable shows with voice actors portraying ethnic stereotypes, it’s a good thing that other, newer shows have acknowledged the distaste it causes. Many see this switch to not hiring white voice actors in non-white roles as a positive progression towards more representation in Hollywood, while others believe the decision fails to reflect the thought process behind casting a voice.
Do you believe this is a step in the right direction? Does this miss the point of voice acting? Let us know what you think on Twitter or in the comments section on our website and don’t forget to download the Kernel App.