Jenny Slate announced her decision to step back from the voice of Big Mouth's Missy on Instagram on Wednesday. The comedian and actress has voiced the biracial character for the past three seasons, but in the wake of season 4 production and a national reckoning about race and Black Lives Matter, she and co-creator Nick Kroll shared the decision on social media to instead cast a Black actor to voice the character.
With production wrapped on season 4, Slate will still voice the character in the upcoming season. However, Netflix has renewed the animated puberty-based series all the way until season 6.
“At the start of the show, I reasoned with myself that it was permissible for me to play ‘Missy’ because her mother is Jewish and White — as am I," Slate wrote in her Instagram message. "But ‘Missy’ is also Black, and Black characters on an animated show should be played by Black people."
She cites her original reasoning as an example of white privilege, and added that "ending my portrayal of 'Missy' is one step in a life-long process of uncovering the racism in my actions."
Kroll supported Slate's decision, saying that he and Big Mouth co-creators Andrew Goldberg, Jennifer Flackett, and Mark Levin "sincerely apologises for and regret our original decision to cast a white actor to voice a biracial character."
The character of Missy is an awkward, nerdy, good-hearted teen with a love of Castle's Nathan Fillion. The co-creators wrote that they were "proud of the representation that Missy has offered cerebral, sensitive women of colour" while announcing their intention to recast the role with a Black voice actor.
There is no official premiere date for season 4 of Big Mouth, but the series is expected to return to Netflix some time this autumn.