Producers of The Simpsons relented Friday and said they will no longer let white actors play non-white characters, the BBC reports. The move follows years of criticism over white actor Hank Azaria playing the voice of Indian-American character Apu, a role Azaria dropped in January, saying he found it "very upsetting to me personally and professionally" to know people felt marginalized by his work. "We feel like it's the right thing," he said at the time, promising to "listen to Indian people and their experience." Azaria has also played the Mexican-American Bumblebee Man and a black police officer named Lou. Harry Shearer, who is white, has voiced the black character Dr. Hibbert.
Show producers didn't say what will happen to the characters of color, but the Hollywood Reporter foresees recasting. The move coincides with Mike Henry, a longtime Family Guy actor, tweeting Friday that he'll no longer voice the black character Cleveland Brown. "It's been an honor to play Cleveland on Family Guy for 20 years," he wrote. "I love this character, but persons of color should play characters of color. Therefore, I will be stepping down from the role." Other shows have made similar promises amid the George Floyd protests, with Netflix's Big Mouth and Apple's Central Park saying they will use black or biracial actors for mixed-race characters. (The Bachelor franchise is also owning up to its "diversity issues.")