The acclaimed Netflix animated series Big Mouth is about to undergo a big, and very welcome, change. Series creator Nick Kroll hit social media and announced that Jenny Slate, who voices Missy, one of the show’s main characters, has decided to step down from the role so that the biracial character can be voiced by a person of color.
— nick kroll (@nickkroll) June 24, 2020
This is, at least as far as I know, an unprecedented move for series television. It also comes at a time when the white-washing of characters on the big and small screen is under extra scrutiny, as well it should be. It’s also a move fitting for a show that has been lauded for its thoughtful depiction of teens from all walks of life.
Season 4 of Big Mouth has already wrapped so Slate’s voice will be heard throughout, and then replaced moving forward. It’s possible Slate could take on a brand new role, as she’s taken on smaller roles in the past. Others in the main cast include John Mulaney, Maya Rudolph, Jordan Peele, Jessi Klein, Fred Armisen, Andrew Rannells, and Jason Mantzoukas.
Meanwhile, over on Apple TV+, Kristen Bell has dropped out of voicing a mixed-race character on Central Park. Bell would have played the character Molly on the animated series about a family living in the New York park to save it from land developers.
Bell dropped the news on Instagram…
“Playing the character of Molly on Central Park shows 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. It was wrong and we, on the Central Park team, are pledging to make it right.”
The cast includes Josh Gad, Tituss Burgess, Daveed Diggs and Kathryn Hahn, while the search is on for someone to replace Bell.
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This is a time to acknowledge our acts of complicity. Here is one of mine. Playing the character of Molly on Central Park shows 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. 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.