Big Mouth actor Jenny Slate has announced that she’ll no longer be voicing biracial character Missy in the Netflix cartoon.
After playing the character for three seasons since the show first aired back in 2017, Slate has decided to step down from the role in favour of a Black actor.
“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,” Slate said in a statement on Instagram. “But Missy is also Black, and Black characters on an animated show should be played by Black people.”
She continued: “I acknowledge how my 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.
“Ending my portrayal of Missy is one step in a life-long process of uncovering the racism in my actions.”
She also said she would 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 responsibility for the ways that I am a part of the problem.”
The show’s creators – Nick Kroll, Andrew Goldberg, Mark Levin and Jennifer Flackett – confirmed the news in their own statement.
They wrote: “After thoughtful discussion with us and our Black collaborators, Jenny Slate has decided, and we wholeheartedly agree, that Missy on Big Mouth should be voiced by a Black actor.
“We sincerely apologise for and regret our original decision to cast a white actor to voice a biracial character. We made a mistake, took our privilege for granted, and were working hard to do better moving forward.”
“‘We are proud of the representation that Miss has offered cerebral, sensitive women of colour, and we plan to continue that representation and further grow missy’s character as we recast a new Black actor to play her,” the statement continued.
“We thank Jenny for her decision and for creating with us an inspiring, compassionate, and very human character. We look forward to being able to explore Missy’s story with even greater authenticity in the years to come.”
Producers are now actively looking for a new voice actress to replace Slate.
Production on Big Mouth season four, which premieres this autumn, has wrapped, meaning Slate will still voice Missy for another series.