Jenny Slate, who voices Missy in Netflix’s Big Mouth series, announced she’s quitting the role because the character is biracial.
Slate made the announcement in a lengthy Instagram post.
It begins, “I have come to the decision today that I can no longer play the character of “Missy” on the animated TV show “Big Mouth.”
Slate continued, “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. But “Missy” is also Black, and Black characters on 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,” Slate stated.
She then added, “Ending my portrayal of “Missy” is one step in a life-long process of uncovering the racism in actions.”
“As I look back on the nature and emergence of my own voice in comedy, I know that I have made mistakes along the way. I can’t change the past, but I can take accountability for my choices,” Slate wrote.
She then stated, “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 a part of the problem.”
Slate concluded, “Most importantly, though, to anyone that I’ve hurt: I am so very sorry. Black voices must be heard. Black Lives Matter.”
Following Slate’s announcement to exit the show, creators Nick Kroll, Andrew Goldberg, Mark Levin, and Jennifer Flackett issued a statement detailing they regretted casting a white actress and vowed to cast a black actress to play Missy.
The statement reads, “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.”
It continues, “We sincerely apologize for and regret out original decision to cast 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.”
“We are proud of the representation that Missy has offered cerebral, sensitive women of color, 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 added.
They then thanked Slate, “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.”
— nick kroll (@nickkroll) June 24, 2020
Variety reports that Missy will be recast in Season 5 since they had already wrapped production on Season 4.
What do you make of Slate’s decision to quit Big Mouth? And Big Mouth’s decision to hire a black actress for Missy?