(LOS ANGELES) — When it was announced Kristen Bell would be voicing Molly — a biracial character — in the new Apple TV plus animated comedy Central Park, critics objected the casting choice because Bell, who’s white, was playing a character of color.
That same criticism was made a few years earlier when Jenny Slate, who is also white, was cast as the biracial character Missy in Netflix’s animated series Big Mouth.
Now, both actresses have addressed the controversy and are relinquishing their roles so that they can be recast with Black actresses.
Bell addressed her decision on Wednesday, writing alongside an official statement from the series’ creative team, “Playing the character of Molly on Central Park shows a lack of awareness of my pervasive privilege. Casting a mixed race character with a white actress undermines the specificity of the mixed race and Black American experience.”
She continued, “It was wrong and we, on the Central Park team, are pledging to make it right.”
The show’s team issued their own statement, which stated, “casting of the character of Molly is an opportunity to get representation right – to cast a Black or mixed race actress and give Molly a voice that resonates with all of the nuance and experiences of the character as we’ve drawn her.”
Regarding Slate’s exit from Netflix’s Big Mouth, the actress said Wednesday that, when she took the role, she 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.”
Show creator Nick Kroll echoed Slate’s sentiments on Wednesday, “We wholeheartedly agree that Missy on ‘Big Mouth’ should be voiced by a Black actor.”
“We made a mistake, took our privilege for granted,” He admitted.
Casting for both roles is currently underway.
By Megan Stone
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