As the reckoning for businesses across the country continues to happen, some actors in Hollywood are jumping ahead of the curve by playing their part in ensuring that roles and characters based on people of color are actually played by people of color.
On Tuesday (Jun 24), voice actress Jenny Slate took to Instagram to announce that she would no longer be the voice of “Missy” the Black character on Netflix’s animated series Big Mouth, before adding that her decision was based on the fact that the role should be voiced by a Black person.
“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 wrote. “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 continued her announcement revealing that she’s recently contemplated her comedy career, before acknowledging that she “made mistakes along the way.” The comedian 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 responsibility for the ways that I am part of of the problem.”
According to TV Guide, after seeing Jenny Slate’s post, the creators of Big Mouth, Nick Kroll, Andrew Goldberg, Mark Levin, and Jennifer Flackett, also posted on Kroll’s Instagram in support of Slate’s decision to step down, before apologizing as well to their fans for the offense.
“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,” the collective 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.”