The Simpsons is the latest animated show to publicly declare that it will no longer employ white actors to voice non-white characters. The decision comes in the same week that Jenny Slate and Kristen Bell stepped away from playing their biracial characters on Big Mouth and Apple TV+’s Central Park, respectively. Mike Henry, who voices the Black character Cleveland Brown on the show Family Guy, also stepped away from his role in solidarity.
“Moving forward, The Simpsons will no longer have white actors voice non-white characters,” the series said in a short, straight-forward statement obtained by TV Guide.
Of course, this is not the first time representation has been an issue for The Simpsons. The iconic comedy was the subject of Hari Kondabolu‘s 2017 documentary The Problem with Apu, where he called out the show for its insensitive and stereotypical portrayal of South Asian immigrants. The Simpsons initially responded to the documentary with an episode lambasting politically correct culture titled, “No Good Read Goes Unpunished.” However, the backlash to the response led to white actor Hank Azaria confirming he would no longer voice Apu earlier this year.
— Hari Kondabolu (@harikondabolu) June 26, 2020
The decisions to pay more attention to inclusive casting comes as people across the country are speaking up about representation in the midst of civil unrest after the death of George Floyd in police custody last month. Calls are being made for widespread change across many areas of industry, including Hollywood, to show.