Jenny Slate and Kristen Bell exit roles in which they voiced biracial teens

Jenny Slate.
Jenny Slate.
Photo: Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic/Getty Images
  • Jenny Slate and Kristen Bell have exited two sitcoms in which they voice biracial teenagers.
  • Jenny said in a statement that her original reasoning for taking on the role was flawed and that it was an example of white privilege.
  • Kristen said on Instagram that playing the character was a lack of awareness of her pervasive privilege.
  • The creators of both shows said that they will recast the characters with a Black or mixed-race actor.

Jenny Slate and Kristen Bell have announced that they will give up their roles in which they voice biracial teenagers.

Jenny voices Missy in the Netflix adult animated comedy Big Mouth which centres on a group of seventh-graders dealing with puberty, and everything that comes along with it.

In a lengthy post on Instagram, the 38-year-old said she decided that she can no longer play the character.

"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 I am. But Missy is also Black, and Black characters in an animated show should be played by Black people.

"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."

The Venom actress added that she knows she made mistakes along the way, and while she can't change the past, she will take accountability for her choices.

"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 responsibility for the ways that I am part of the problem.

"Most importantly, though, to anyone that I have hurt: I am so very sorry. Black voices must be heard. Black Lives Matter," she ended the post.


The creators of the show Nick Kroll, Andrew Goldberg, Mark Levin and Jennifer Flackett released a joint statement on Instagram and said they will honour Jenny's wishes and will cast a Black actor to play Missy.

They also apologised for casting 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."


Kristen voices Molly in the AppleTV+ musical series Central Park which centres on the Tillerman-Hunter family who lives in a castle in Central Park.

Along with a statement on Instagram the Frozen actress said that playing the character of Molly was a lack of awareness of her pervasive privilege.

"Casting a mixed-race character with a white actress undermines the specificity of the mixed-race and 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."

The creators of the show said in the statement that the 39-year-old will still be a part of the show in a new role but that they will find a new actress to voice the character and added that they regret that they might contribute to anyone's feeling of exclusion or erasure.

"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," reads the statement.


We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24