Big Mouth voice actress Jenny Slate has announced she is leaving the cast of the popular animated series so a person of color can play the role instead. In all the show's first three seasons on Netflix, Slate can be heard voicing the character Missy, a biracial teenage girl described as "nerdy and kind." No longer feeling comfortable with continuing in the role, Slate has formally announced that she given up playing Missy while explaining her reasoning in a statement posted to her official instagram account.
"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," the statement reads in part. "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. Ending my portrayal of 'Missy' is one step in a life-long process of uncovering the racism in my actions"
Additionally, Jenny Slate takes responsibility for the mistakes she's made while finding her voice in comedy, promising to "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." She closes out with an apology and a showing of support for the Black Lives Matter movement by adding: "Most importantly, though, to anyone that I've hurt: I am so very sorry. Black voices must be heard. Black Lives Matter."
Created by the comedy team of Nick Kroll, Andrew Goldberg, Mark Levin, and Jennifer Flackett, Big Mouth first began streaming on Netflix in 2017. The animated series is based on the childhoods of Kroll and Goldberg in New York, with Kroll's lead role of Nick Birch based on himself. Other members of the voice cast include John Mulaney, Jessi Klein, Jason Mantzoukas, Fred Armisen, and Maya Rudolph. Along with Missy, Slate provided additional voices for smaller characters on the animated series as well. As Slate's statement specifically says that she's "no longer playing the part of Missy," it's possible she'll remain on the cast to voice other roles, but that's not entirely clear at this time.
Slate's retirement from playing Missy on the Netflix smash hit Big Mouth is reminiscent of another popular voice actor making a similar gesture earlier this year. As a result of the controversy surrounding The Simpsons character Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, longtime voice actor Hank Azaria announced he was stepping down from voicing the role after doing so for over 30 years. As of now, the producers working on The Simpsons have not yet revealed who will be voicing Apu next, and it also remains to be seen who will be taking over Slate for the role of Missy. This news comes to us from Jenny Slate on Instagram.