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Here’s why the whitewashing in cartoons is on its way out

Enough whitewashing in cartoons.

Due to the Black Lives Matter movement and increased calls for social justice, actors have been taking into account the roles that they can play in the fight.

More aptly, the literal roles that they play in the media, and whether they are representing characters that they should be.

White voice actors have recently been called out for voicing characters of color. Many actors and show runners have stepped forward and voiced their regret in having played a part in this appropriation in media.

Big Mouth

On Thursday, June 25, Jenny Slate made an announcement that she will be removing herself from voicing the character Missy Foreman-Greenwald on Big Mouth.

Missy is a biracial character on Big Mouth; she is White, Black, and Jewish. When initially taking the job, Slate reasoned that because she is Jewish and White, it would be fine to play Missy.

This discounted the fact that Missy was also a Black woman. Slate has taken accountability for this major miscasting by apologizing for her role in white actors taking jobs from persons of color.


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Family Guy

Mike Henry, who has played Cleveland Brown on Family Guy for the past 20 years, has stepped down from his role.

His reason being the same as Jenny Slate, “persons of color should play characters of color.” Henry writes and has produced episodes on Family Guy as well as being a voice actor.

Central Park

Following Jenny Slate, Kristen Bell announced that she will no longer be the voice actress for the character Molly Tillerman, in Central Park.

On a TCA panel in January, Executive Producer Loren Bouchard stated that Kristen Bell “needed to be Molly, she was always going to honor that character. We couldn’t make Molly white or Kristen mixed race, so we had to go forward.”

Bouchard has since apologized for this wrongful decision and excuse on Twitter, sharing Kristen Bell’s Instagram post.

The Simpsons

Hank Azaria is known for voicing multiple characters of color on The Simpsons, while he himself is white.

In January he announced that he would no longer be voicing the character Apu, an Indian who owns a convenience store. On Saturday, June 27, Azaria posted on Instagram that he would no longer be voicing any characters of color, while also acknowledging that he’s taken part in keeping these roles away from POC.


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Bojack Horseman

Bojack Horseman features an all-white main cast. Creator Raphael Bob-Waksberg specifically expressed regret in casting Alison Brie, a white woman, to voice a Vietnamese American character, Diane Nguyen.


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Bob-Waksberg, the creator of Bojack Horseman, comments on his choice for casting a white woman, Brie, to voice a character of color. In his thread of explanations, he includes an interview in which he states regret for having an all-white cast.

Moving forward

Though these actors should have known that their choice in taking these roles was part of white privilege, it is admirable that they are educating and removing themselves from these parts.

Hopefully characters of color will now be voiced by persons of color, taking a step in the right direction in representation in media.