“Moving forward, The Simpsons will no longer have white actors voice non-white characters,” Fox spokesman Les Eisner said in a statement.
For over three decades, The Simpsons used white actors such as Harry Shearer and Hank Azaria to voice non-white characters Dr. Julius Hibbert and Carl Carlson, respectively.
Azaria also famously voiced American-Indian character Apu Nahasapeemapetilon. In January, he announced he would no longer lend his voice to the Kwik-E-Mart owner. His announcement followed a 2017 documentary, “The Problem With Apu,” by comedian Hari Kondabolu, who claimed the character is offensive, racially insensitive, and a stereotypical mockery of Indian-Americans.
The move comes as the entertainment industry confronts controversial depictions of race in TV shows and movies following sweeping nationwide protests against systematic racism and police brutality stemming from the tragic George Floyd murder.
Fox’s other animated success, “Family Guy,” made a similar announcement.
Mike Henry, who has voiced the Cleveland Brown character for two decades, said he is stepping down from the role.
It’s been an honor to play Cleveland on Family Guy for 20 years. I love this character, but persons of color should play characters of color. Therefore, I will be stepping down from the role. pic.twitter.com/FmKasWITKT
— Mike Henry (@mikehenrybro) June 26, 2020