This week, actresses Kristen Bell and Jenny Slate both resigned from their roles in their respective animated series, “Central Park” and “Big Mouth,” in which they voiced Black characters.
In a text post on Instagram, Slate wrote of her role on the Netflix series, “I have come to the decision today that I can no longer play the character of ‘Missy’ on the animated TV show Big Mouth. At the start of the show, I reasoned with myself that it was permissible for me to play ‘Missy’ because her mom is Jewish and White—as I am. But ‘Missy’ is also Black, and Black characters on an animated show should be played by Black people.”
She went on to call her “flawed” reasoning an “example of white privilege.”
Meanwhile, Bell, who plays Molly on Apple TV+ series “Central Park,” wrote on Twitter, “This is a time to acknowledge our acts of complicity. Here is one of mine. 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.”
Bell continued, “I am happy to relinquish this role to someone who can give a much more accurate portrayal and I will commit to learning, growing and doing my part for equality and inclusion.”
This is a time to acknowledge our acts of complicity. Heres 1 of mine. Playing the Molly in Central Park shows a lack of awareness of my pervasive privilege. Casting a mixed race character w/a white actress undermines the specificity of the mixed race & Black American experience. pic.twitter.com/8AL8m4K7Uk
— Kristen Bell (@KristenBell) June 25, 2020
She also posted a statement from the “Central Park” team, which described Bell as “an extraordinarily talented actress” and said she would continue to be a part of the show in a new role. However, they said they recognize that “the 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.”
Deadline reported that season two of “Central Park” had already been recorded, and the series is being animated now, but the producers hope to re-cast Molly and re-record her dialogue in time to use it in season two.