Jenny Slate, Kristen Bell quit animated shows where they voiced biracial characters

The actresses who voiced characters on “Big Mouth” and “Central Park” both said the roles should be given to Black actors.

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The 23rd Annual Webby Awards - Arrivals

Jenny Slate attends The 23rd Annual Webby Awards on May 13, 2019 in New York City.

Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images for Webby Awards

Jenny Slateand Kristen Bell will give up their roles on “Big Mouth” and “Central Park” respectively, saying it’s inappropriate for them to voice biracial cartoon characters.

In a lengthy Instagram statement Wednesday, Slate explained her decision to no longer voice Missy on the animated series ”Big Mouth.”

“At the start of the show, I reasoned with myself that it was permissible for me to play ‘Missy’ because her mom is Jewish and White — as am I,” Slate wrote. ”But Missy is also Black, and Black characters on an animated show should be played by Black people.”

Slate, who has voiced Missy since 2017, added that her initial reasoning for playing the part is an example of white privilege and “unjust allowances made within a system of societal white supremacy.”

“In me playing ‘Missy,’ I was engaging in an act of erasure of Black people,” she continued. “Ending my portrayal of ‘Missy’ is one step in a life-long process of uncovering the racism in my actions.”

The actress capped off her statement promising to hold herself accountable and to take responsibility for being “part of the problem.”

“Most importantly though, to anyone that I’ve hurt: I am so very sorry,” she wrote. “Black voices must be heard. Black Lives Matter.”

Slate will likely still portray Missy in Season 4 of “Big Mouth,” which premieres on Netflix this fall, as production had wrapped before Slate’s decision to step down.

In a joint statement posted to Instagram, “Big Mouth” creators Nick Kroll, Andrew Goldberg, Mark Levin and Jennifer Flackett said they will honor Slate’s wishes and recast Missy with a Black actor going forward.

The creators apologized, saying they regret casting a white person for this role in the first place. 

“We made a mistake, took our privilege for granted, and we’re working hard to do better moving forward,” they added. “We are proud of the representation Missy has offered cerebral, sensitive women of color, and we plan to continue that representation and further grow Missy’s character as we cast a new Black actor to play her.”

Bell also took to Instagram on Wednesday to announce she will no longer voice Molly in the cartoon “Central Park.”

“This is a time to acknowledge our acts of complicity,” Bell wrote. “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.”

She continued: “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.”

Bell also shared a statement saying that everyone at “Central Park” is committed to creating opportunities for people of color in all roles across all projects.

“Central Park” premiered on Apple TV+ this year and is airing new episodes every Friday.

USA TODAY has reached out to reps for Bell, Slate, Kroll, Goldberg, Levin and Flackett for further comment.


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