Two popular animated series will have to recast their non-White characters after their celebrity voices decided to leave the shows.
Actors Kristen Bell and Jenny Slate decided to stop voicing their mixed-race characters on Central Park and Big Mouth, respectively, to clear the way for non-White actors to take the roles.
Jenny Slate will leave the role of Big Mouth's Missy, who is half-Jewish and biracial and has been lauded as a sensitive portrayal of a sweet, nerdy Black girl in media.
Slate announced her decision yesterday in an Instagram post.
In her post, Slate explained her reasoning both for taking the role in the first place and for leaving it.
"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."
"But Missy is also Black, and Black characters on an animated show should be played by Black people."
Slate went on to say that her decision is part of a wider effort to better understand and fight against White supremacy.
"I acknowledge how my original reasoning was flawed, that it existed as an example of White privilege and unjust allowances made within a system of societal White supremacy, and that in me playing Missy, I was engaging in an act of erasure of Black people."
"Ending my portrayal of Missy is one step in a life-long process of uncovering the racism in my actions."
Likewise, Kristen Bell will be exiting the Apple+ series Central Park, an animated musical comedy in which she plays a mixed race girl named Molly.
She announced her decision in a tweet yesterday.
Similarly to Slate, in her tweet Bell called her decision to take the role of Molly "an act of complicity" with White supremacy.
"This is a time to acknowledge our acts of complicity. Heres 1 of mine. Playing the Molly in Central Park shows a lack of awareness of my pervasive privilege."
"Casting a mixed race character w/a White actress undermines the specificity of the mixed race & Black American experience."
In a follow-up tweet, Bell went on to say:
"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 included a statement from the series' team of producers, Loren Bouchard, Josh Gad, Nora Smith, Halsted Sullivan and Sanjay Shah, which went into more detail about the decision.
"...after reflection, Kristen, along with the entire creative team, recognizes that the casting of the character of Molly is an opportunity to get representation right — to cast a Black or mixed race actress and give Molly a voice that resonates with all of the nuance and experiences of the character as we've drawn her..."
"...our show will be better for respecting the nuances and complexity around the issue of representation and trying to get it right."
On Twitter, many people praised both actresses for their personal decisions.
Though some felt it was too little, too late.
The production company's for both cartoons have not made announcements yet on who will replace Bell or Slate.