Actress Jenny Slate announced on Wednesday that she would no longer be voicing a biracial character in the Netflix animated series "Big Mouth."
"Big Mouth," which premiered in 2017, is about a group of teenagers and their satirical journey through puberty. One of those characters is Missy, a biracial girl.
Slate, who is white, took to Instagram and determined, in light of the cultural shift following the death of George Floyd, she can no longer voice the character.
"I have come to the decision today that I can no longer play the character of 'Missy' on the animated TV show 'Big Mouth,'" Slate began. "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 am I. But 'Missy' is also Black, and Black characters on an animated show should be played by Black people. I acknowledge how my original reasoning was flawed, that it is an example of white privilege and unjust allowances made within a system of societal white supremacy, and that in me playing 'Missy,' I was engaging in an of erasure of Black people."
The comedic actress called her withdrawal from the role a step "in the life-long process of uncovering the racism in my actions" and acknowledged she has made mistakes in the past but "can take accountability for my choices" going forward.
"I will continue to engage in meaningful anti-racist action, to be thoughtful about the messages in my work, to be curious and open to feedback, and to do my best to take responsiblity for the ways that I am part of the problem," Slate vowed. "Most importantly, though, to anyone that I've hurt: I am very sorry. Black voices must be heard. Black Lives Matter."
"Big Mouth" creators Nick Kroll, Andrew Goldberg, Mark Levin and Jennifer Flackett also issued a statement expressing solidarity with Slate's decision and offered an apology.
"We are proud of the representation Missy has offered cerebral, sensitive women of color, and we plan to continue that representation and further grow Missy's character as we cast a new Black actor to play her," they wrote.
The fourth season of "Big Mouth" is set to debut this fall, which will still feature Slate as Missy, but the role will be re-cast for future seasons.
Slate has appeared on-screen in "Parks and Recreation," "Saturday Night Live," and the 2014 film "Obvious Child." She's best known for her voice work in other animated shows like "Bob's Burgers" and "Muppet Babies" as well as animated films like "Zootopia," "Despicable Me 3," and "The Secret Life of Pets" franchise.
It was similarly announced on Wednesday that Kristen Bell would no longer be playing the mixed-race character Molly in the Apple+ animated series "Central Park."