Kristen Bell has quit her role as the voice actor of a mixed-race character on new Apple TV+ animated show Central Park.
Bell plays the role of Molly in the show, whose father (voiced by Leslie Odom Jr) is a Black man, and mother (Kathryn Hahn) is a white woman.
“This is a time to acknowledge our acts of complicity. Here’s one of mine,” Bell said in a statement posted to Twitter. “Playing 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.”
It was wrong and we, on the Central Park team, are pledging to make it right. 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. pic.twitter.com/k8N73pAXOw
— Kristen Bell (@KristenBell) June 25, 2020
Bell continued: “It was wrong and we, on the Central Park team, are pledging to make it right. 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.”
In a full statement from the show’s creators, posted as a photo in Bell’s tweets, revealed that Bell will remain on the show, taking on a different role.
“We profoundly regret that we might have contributed to anyone’s feeling of exclusion or erasure,” they said. “Black people and people of colour have worked and will continue to work on Central Park but we can do better.
“We’re committed to creating opportunities for people of colour and Black people in all roles, on all our projects – behind the mic, in the writers room, in production, and in post-production.”
Back in January, Central Park creator Loren Bouchard defended Bell’s casting as Molly, saying: “Kristen needed to be Molly. We couldn’t not make her Molly. But then we couldn’t make Molly white and we couldn’t make Kristen mixed race so we just had to go forward.”
Over the past weeks, a number of TV episodes have been removed from the internet due to perceived racial insensitivity and use of blackface, including 30 Rock, which this week had four episodes removed at creator Tina Fey’s request.