Another animated series is course-correcting its voice portrayal of non-white characters.
“Moving forward, The Simpsons will no longer have white actors voice non-white characters,” Fox said in a statement on Friday.
As previously reported, Hank Azaria already confirmed in January that he would part ways with Apu, explaining in a February interview that “it just didn’t feel right” anymore to voice the Indian role. In past seasons, Azaria also provided the voices of the non-white figures Carl and Dr. Nick, while Harry Shearer, who is white, voiced the Black character Dr. Hibbert. Additionally, Tress MacNeille voiced Dr. Hibbert’s wife Bernice and Apu’s wife Manjula, along with Cookie Kwan.
The long-running Fox comedy is the latest in a growing list of animated series to recently declare that it will recast voice roles with persons of color: Mike Henry is stepping down as the voice of Family Guy’s Cleveland Brown, while Jenny Slate announced on Wednesday that she will no longer voice biracial tween Missy on Netflix’s Big Mouth. Meanwhile, Kristen Bell is also being recast as the voice of a young biracial character on Apple TV+’s Central Park.
The Simpsons is slated to return this fall as part of Fox’s coronavirus-proof schedule, airing Sundays at 8/7c.