‘Big Mouth’, ‘Central Park’ to recast biracial characters

Jenny Slate and Kristen Bell will no longer play biracial characters on the animated shows “Big Mouth” and “Central Park”, respectively.

In a statement posted to Instagram on Wednesday, Slate explained that he had given up the role of Missy because his original reasoning to sign to express the character was “flawed” and “an example of white privilege.”

“At the beginning of the show, I reasoned with myself that it was permissible to play ‘Missy’ because her mother is Jewish and white, like me,” Slate wrote. “But ‘Missy’ is also black, and black characters in an animated show should be played by black people.”

He apologized for “participating in an act of erasing blacks.”

“Big Mouth” creators Nick Kroll, Andrew Goldberg, Mark Levin and Jennifer Flackett issued a statement in support of Slate’s decision, and said they would reprise the role with a black actor.

“We sincerely apologize and regret our original decision to choose a white actor to express a biracial character,” they wrote. “We are proud of the portrayal Missy has offered to sensitive, brain-colored women, and we plan to continue that portrayal and further grow Missy’s character as we choose a new black actor to portray her.”

Because production has already ended for the fourth season of “Big Mouth,” the upcoming episodes of the season still feature Slate as Missy. A new actor will voice the character in later seasons. Netflix had previously renewed the series until season 6.

Bell also announced Wednesday that he would be stepping away from Molly’s role in “Central Park.”

“Playing the character of Molly in ‘Central Park’ shows a lack of awareness of my widespread privilege,” Bell wrote in an Instagram post. “Launching a mixed-race character with a white actress undermines the specificity of the mixed race and the African-American experience.”

“Central Park” creator Loren Bouchard, who previously defended Bell’s role on paper, apologized on Twitter for “originally making this wrong decision.”

In a joint statement, the “Central Park” team announced plans to choose a black or mixed-race actress to “give Molly a voice that resonates with all of the character’s nuances and experiences as we have drawn her.”

Questions about white actors voicing animated colored characters are not new. Earlier this year, “The Simpsons” actor Hank Azaria announced that he would no longer voice the character of Apu after years of criticism against the long-running show and its stereotypical portrayal of the Indian immigrant character.