Alison Brie has apologized for voicing the role of Diane Nguyen on the Netflix animated series Bojack Horseman, now saying she regrets taking on the part. Between 2014 and 2020, Brie had co-starred with Will Arnett by voicing BoJack's friend Diane, a human Vietnamese-American character. Amid reports of many white voice actors stepping down from portraying non-white characters on various animated shows, Brie took to Instagram to release a statement of her own pertaining to her role as Diane Nguyen.
"In hindsight, I wish that I didn't voice the character of Diane Nguyen," Brie notes in the statement. "I now understand that people of color, should always voice people of color. We missed a great opportunity to represent the Vietnamese-American community accurately and respectfully, and for that I am truly sorry. I applaud all those who stepped away from their voiceover roles in recent days. I have learned a lot from them."
Additionally, BoJack Horseman creator Raphael Bob-Waksberg also spoke about the decision to cast Alison Brie in the role in a thread on Twitter, admitting that going with the Community star was ultimately a mistake. Confessing that he'd dodged the question for years, Bob-Waksberg says came to realize there was no justification for making this decision. "I thought when I was ready I'd write something - like a blog post or twitter thread - explaining why I had cast a white actress to voice an Asian character and why it was okay, but the more I thought about it (and listened to other people) the more I felt like it WASN'T okay," he writes.
"Even in the small ways we wrote to Diane's experience as a woman of color, or more specifically an Asian woman, we rarely got specific enough to think about what it meant to be SPECIFICALLY VIETNAMESE-AMERICAN and that was a huge (racist!) error on my part," Bobs-Waksberg also explains in the Twitter thread. "The intention behind the character is I wanted to write AWAY from stereotypes and create an Asian American character who wasn't defined solely by her race. But I went too far in the other direction. We are all defined SOMEWHAT by our race! Of course we are! It is part of us!"
With mounting criticism over white actors playing non-white characters in animated programs, several cartoons have announced their plans to recast many roles with persons of color. Jenny Slate was among the first to take the initiative, announcing on social media that she's no longer voicing a biracial teenager on Big Mouth. Soon after, Central Park producers revealed that star Kristen Bell was stepping down from playing a mixed-race teenager on that series as well. Over on Fox, longtime voice actor Mike Henry said he is now finished voicing the role of Cleveland Brown on Family Guy, and The Simpsons producers say all non-white characters will be recast with non-white voice actors.
BoJack Horseman has already completed its run, so there's no recasting Diane Nguyen on that show at this point. Still, for those in the Vietnamese-American community who've questioned the casting choice, hopefully the apologies from Brie and Bob-Waksberg will help bring about a more conscious awareness from animators for better representation moving forward.