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The Simpsons ends using white actors to voice characters of colour

Characters including Apu and Dr Hibbert are voiced by white actors.

Image: Youtube/20th Century Fox

THE SIMPSONS WILL no longer use white actors to dub ethnic minority characters, the producers of the long-running animated series announced Friday.

The decision includes a recurring character from the series, launched in 1989 – Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, a grocer of Indian origin voiced in the American version of the show by white actor Hank Azaria.

The character has long been seen as problematic and conveying racist stereotypes. Last January Azaria announced that, in agreement with producers, he was abandoning the role.

“Moving forward, The Simpsons will no longer have white actors voice non-white characters,” Fox Studios said in a statement.

The change will also affect the character of Dr Hibbert, a black man dubbed by the white actor Harry Shearer who also lends his voice to many other characters on the series – including Homer Simpson’s boss Mr Burns and neighbor Ned Flanders. 

The announcement came as Mike Henry, the white actor who voices the black character of Cleveland Brown in Family Guy, another animated series produced by Fox, announced on Twitter that he was giving up the role.

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“It’s been an honor to play Cleveland on Family Guy for 20 years. I love this character, but persons of color should play characters of color. Therefore, I will be stepping down from the role,” he wrote.  

Americans are in the midst of a reckoning on systemic racism and discrimination ignited by the killing of George Floyd, an African American man, by a white police officer in Minneapolis on 25 May.

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