The Simpsons will no longer use white actors to voice ethnic minority characters, the producers of the long-running animated series announced Friday, June 26.
“Moving forward, THE SIMPSONS will no longer have white actors voice non-white characters,” Fox Studios said in a statement to AFP.
The series, launched in 1989, has a number of coloured characters that are voiced by white actors.
The recurring character Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, a grocer of Indian origin, is voiced in the American version of the show by white actor Hank Azaria. The character has long been seen as problematic and conveying racist stereotypes. Last January Azaria announced that, in agreement with producers, he was abandoning the role.
The change will also affect the character of Dr Hibbert, a black character voiced by the white actor Harry Shearer who also lends his voice to many other characters on the series — from Homer Simpson’s boss Mr Burns to the chirpy neighbour Ned Flanders.
This announcement came as Mike Henry, the white actor who voices the black character of Cleveland Brown in Family Guy, another animated series produced by Fox, announced on Twitter and Instagram that he was giving up the role.