2 White Actresses Will Stop Voicing Biracial Characters

Jenny Slate, Kristen Bell make separate announcements
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 25, 2020 1:32 AM CDT
Updated Jun 25, 2020 6:36 AM CDT
Jenny Slate, Kristen Bell to Stop Voicing Biracial Characters
Jenny Slate arrives at the 25th annual Critics' Choice Awards on Sunday, Jan. 12, 2020, at the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, Calif.   (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

As protests calling for an end to systemic racism continue to rock the nation, two white actresses pledged Wednesday to stop voicing biracial cartoon characters, NBC News reports. Jenny Slate was first, posting on Instagram that she would no longer voice Missy on Netflix's Big Mouth. She says her reasoning for accepting the role in the first place was that the character's mother is Jewish and white, like Slate. "But ‘Missy’ is also Black, and Black characters on an animated show should be played by Black people,” she wrote. “I acknowledge how my original reasoning is 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."

Kristen Bell followed hours later, tweeting that she would no longer voice Molly on Apple TV Plus' Central Park. She said her acceptance of the role "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 an official statement, the show says Bell has been involved since before she even had a character to play, and that she will continue to be involved while the character of Molly will be recast. "We profoundly regret that we may have contributed to anyone’s feeling of exclusion or erasure." Similarly, CBS LA reports the Big Mouth creators said in a statement, "We sincerely apologize for and regret our original decision to cast a white actor to voice a biracial character. We made a mistake, took our privilege for granted, and we’re working hard to do better moving forward.” (More anti-racist stories.)

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