‘The Simpsons’ recasts gay character with gay actor Tony Rodriguez

The recasting of Julio comes as the show continues its bid to increase the diversity of its cast to better represent the characters they're playing

The Simpsons has recast another of its characters in an ongoing bid to increase the diversity of its cast to better represent the characters they’re playing.

Julio, who many know as Marge Simpson’s hairdresser, has long been a part of the show’s LGBT+ community, having previously dated Waylon Smithers. Previously voiced by Hank Azaria, the character has now been recast.

Moving forward, Tony Rodriguez will take on the role of Julio in order to accurately portray the character – both Julio and Rodriguez are gay Cuban men.

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“Tonight I make my debut on The Simpsons as gay, Cuban Julio,” Rodriguez wrote on Instagram last month, sharing his excitement at being cast. “This is a dream come true for me and I was already a living cartoon.”

Prior to his casting, Rodriguez posted a video to Instagram in February explaining why he should play the role of Julio, adding that he was a big fan of the show and that the characters, writing and performances are all “brilliant”.

“In the past two years, I have seen myself more in the show, and by that, I mean specifically the part of Julio, who is gay like me, he’s Cuban like me,” he said.

Earlier this month, Azaria apologised for his longtime portrayal of Apu Nahasapeemapetilon on the series, while also acknowledging the show’s participation in “structural racism”.

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In the April 12 episode of Dax Shepherd’s Armchair Expert podcast, Azaria said that he wished he had stopped playing Apu earlier (he’d been voicing the role since 1990).

“I’ve had a date with destiny with this thing for about 31 years,” Azaria said.

In 2017, widespread calls for Azaria to stop voicing Apu began following Hari Kondabolu’s criticism of the portrayal of the character in his documentary The Problem With Apu.

Meanwhile, a word first used in The Simpsons has officially been recognised in the dictionary.

Dictionary.com has acknowledged the use of the word “embiggens”, which was first used in a 1996 episode which saw Lisa left devastated after discovering Springfield’s town founder, Jebediah Springfield, was actually a murderous pirate.

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