Missy Foreman-Greenwald will sound a bit different when Big Mouth returns for Season 4: Jenny Slate, who has voiced the character since Season 1, is leaving the role amid ongoing conversations about Black representation in Hollywood.
“I have come to the decision today that I can no longer play the character of Missy on the animated TV show Big Mouth,” Slate announced in an Instagram post on Wednesday. “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 acknowledge that holding the role of Missy for three seasons “existed as an example of white privilege and unjust allowances made within a system of societal white supremacy.”
“I will continue to engage in meaningful anti-racist action, to be thoughtful about the messages in my work, to be curious and open to feedback and to do my best to take responsibility for the ways that I am a part of the problem,” she concluded. “Black voices must be heard. Black Lives Matter.”
Big Mouth‘s creators — Nick Kroll, Andrew Goldberg, Mark Levin and Jennifer Flackett — also addressed Slate’s departure from the role in a Twitter post, confirming their intention to recast Missy with a Black actor.
Though Missy was Slate’s most prominent role on the Netflix comedy, she also voices other supporting characters on the show. Big Mouth was previously renewed for Seasons 4, 5 and 6 at the streamer, while a spinoff titled Human Resources has also been ordered.
Earlier this week, more than 300 Black artists and executives penned a letter to the entertainment industry, urging Hollywood to “prove that Black Lives Matter… by taking bold moves to affirm, defend and invest in Black lives,” particularly as it pertains to portrayals of police and the criminal justice system.
Read Slate’s full statement below: