Jenny Slate & Kristen Bell Will No Longer Voice Black Animated Characters

Photo: Gary Gershoff/WireImage.
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. Shortly after, Apple TV+'s Central Park announced Kristen Bell would no longer be the voice of Molly, another animated biracial character.
With production wrapped on season 4 of Big Mouth, 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 mom 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."
Photo: Courtesy of Netflix.
Kroll supported Slate's decision, saying that he and Big Mouth co-creators Andrew Goldberg, Jennifer Flackett, and Mark Levin "sincerely apologize 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 color" while announcing their intention to recast the role with a Black voice actor.
Bell shared her own statement alongside the official announcement, calling her casting "an act of complicity." According to Deadline, the show plans to re-record Molly's dialogue with a Black actor for season 2. Bell will be given a new role.
There are no official premiere dates for season 2 of Central Park and season 4 of Big Mouth, but the latter series is expected to return to Netflix some time this fall.

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