Changes are coming to animated television as shows featuring characters of color are being challenged to have black voices attached.
Actress Jenny Slate announced on Instagram that she can no longer voice “Missy”, a character on the show, “Big Mouth”.
“Missy” has been praised as sensitive portrayal of sweet, weird, and brilliant Black girls on the Netflix show .
“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,” said Slate.
“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.”
Slate revealed that she is contemplating her comedy career and acknowledged that she “made mistakes along the way.”
She also added that she “will continue to engage in meaningful anti-racist action, be thoughtful about the messages in my work, be open and curious to feedback, and do my best to take responsibilities for the ways that I am part of of the problem.”
The creators of Big Mouth are Nick Kroll, Andrew Goldberg, Mark Levin, and Jennifer Flackett.
In addition, they posted on Kroll’s Instagram in support of Slate’s decision.
They also apologized to their fans.
“After thoughtful discussion with us and our Black collaborators, Jenny Slate has decided, and we wholeheartedly agree, that Missy on Big Mouth should be voiced by a Black actor,” they wrote.
“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.”