The Simpsons will stop letting white actors voice nonwhite characters, the long-running animated series announced Friday.
“Moving forward, The Simpsons will no longer have white actors voice nonwhite characters,” the series said in an emailed statement.
CNET sister site TV Guide pointed out that the move follows Kristen Bell stepping down from playing her biracial character on Central Park, while the voice actor of Family Guy’s Cleveland Brown has also stepped away from his role saying “persons of color should play characters of color.”
The Family Guy series didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Currently on The Simpsons, Black characters Carl Carlson and Lou are both voiced by Hank Azaria, who also voices South Asian character Apu Nahasapeemapetilon and Japanese character Akira. Azaria, however, said earlier this year he would no longer voice Apu, following backlash after a 2017 documentary criticized the racial stereotypes used to represent a South Asian character.
Dr. Julius Hibbert, a Black character, is voiced by Harry Shearer, who is white. South Asian character Manjula Nahasapeemapetilon has been voiced by two separate white actresses. Japanese character Kumiko Albertson and Cookie Kwan and Cosine Tangent, characters of unspecified Asian descent, are all voiced by Tress MacNeille, who is white.
The move follows calls to improve representation in media amid the current civil rights movement. Black Lives Matter protests continue across the US and globally as people demonstrate against the recent killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Rayshard Brooks and other victims of police brutality, and against systemic racism.
Black Lives Matter. Visit blacklivesmatter.carrd.co to learn how to donate, sign petitions and protest safely.