The Simpsons Will Recast Characters of Color (Reports).
The creators behind The Simpsons have confirmed they will no longer have white actors voice characters of colour.
“Moving forward, ‘The Simpsons’ will no longer have white actors voice non-white characters,” the statement read.
The animated series has faced heavy criticism over the last few years on this issue, most notably over Hank Azaria voicing Indian character Apu.
In January Azaria confirmed he was officially stepping down from the role.
“I won’t be doing the voice anymore, unless there’s some way to transition it or something,” Azaria has said in an interview with SlashFilm.
“What they’re going to do with the character is their call. It’s up to them and they haven’t sorted it out yet. All we’ve agreed on is I won’t do the voice anymore.”
Calls for Azaria, who has voiced the Indian Kwik-E-Mart owner for decades, to stop playing Apu intensified in 2017 after comedian Hari Kondabolu released the documentary The Problem With Apu.
The documentary explored how people of South Asian descent felt about growing up with Apu as one of their only representatives on American television.
The Simpsons addressed the controversy in a 2018 episode, in which Lisa says: “Something that started decades ago and was applauded and inoffensive is now politically incorrect. What can you do?”
She then looks over at a framed picture of Apu, which has the line “Don’t have a cow!” written on it.
Series creator Matt Groening also spoke about the issue in an interview in which he said “I’m proud of what we do on the show. And I think it’s a time in our culture where people love to pretend they’re offended”.
After the film’s release, Azaria said he would be willing to stop playing the character.
“I think the most important thing is to listen to Indian people and their experience with it,” he said at the time.
“I really want to see Indian, South Asian writers in the writers room … including how [Apu] is voiced or not voiced. I’m perfectly willing to step aside. It just feels like the right thing to do to me.
“The idea that anyone young or old, past or present, being bullied based on Apu really makes me sad,” he continued.
“It certainly was not my intention. I wanted to bring joy and laughter to people.”
The animated series space is currently having a reckoning with its history of casting white actors to play non-white characters.
In the last week alone, Jenny Slate announced on that she would no longer play the “bi-racial” character Missy on the popular Netflix show Big Mouth, and Kristen Bell revealed that she would be stepping down from her role as a “bi-racial” character in the Apple animated series Central Park.