BIG MOUTH Actress Jenny Slate Resigns From Voicing Missy; Show Creators Apologize For Not Casting Black Actor
Jenny Slate has withdrawn from voicing Missy, a black character, in the Netflix animated series Big Mouth. Series creators have also apologized for casting a white actor to voice a biracial character.
When Big Mouth returns for its fifth season, the character of Missy will be voiced by a new actor. Original voice actor Jenny Slate announced that she is exiting the role of Missy because "Black characters on an animated show should be played by Black people."
Missy is biracial; her mom is Caucasian (Jewish) and her dad is African American. The character has a darker skin complexion though, and because of that Slate believes the character should be voiced by a black actor.
Slate explained that she had originally justified herself voicing the character in the animated series "because her mom is Jewish and White — as am I." Of course, Missy is also black and this is where Slate realized her "original reasoning was flawed, that it existed as 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 act of erasure of Black people."
"Most importantly, though, to anyone that I've hurt: I am so very sorry. Black voices must be heard," Slate wrote on Instagram. "Black Lives Matter."
Big Mouth co-creators Nick Kroll, Andrew Goldberg, Mark Levin, and Jennifer Flackett also posted a statement agreeing with Slate and also apologizing for their decision to cast a white actor to voice a biracial character.
"We made a mistake, took our privilege for granted, and we're working hard to do better moving forward," the statement reads. "We are proud of the representation that Missy has offered cerebral, sensitive women of color, and we plan to continue that representation and further grow Missy's character as we recast a new Black actor to play her."
Production on Season 4 of the animated series has reportedly already wrapped, which means Missy will be voiced by Slate for one more season. The character will be voiced by a new actress starting with Season 5. Netflix renewed Big Mouth for three more seasons last year, bringing the show to six seasons total.