Hours after Jenny Slate revealed she would no longer voice a biracial character named Molly on Big Mouth, it has been announced that Kristen Bell's role on the Apple TV series Central Park will be recast with a Black actress. In the show's first season, Bell voiced one of the lead characters, which was coincidentally a biracial teenager named Molly. While Bell will remain with the series in a new role yet to be revealed, a statement from the producers has confirmed that the search for a Black actress to voice the Molly character is now underway.
"Kristen Bell is an extraordinarily talented actress who joined the cast of Central Park from nearly the first day of the show's development - before there was even a character for her to play - and she has since delivered a funny, heartfelt, and beautiful performance."
"But after reflection, Kristen, along with the entire creative team, recognizes that the casting of the character of Molly is an opportunity to get representation right - to cast a Black or mixed race actress and give Molly a voice that resonates with all of the nuance and experiences of the character as we've drawn her."
"Kristen will continue to be a part of the heart of the show in a new role but we will find a new actress to lend her voice to Molly. We profoundly regret that we might have contributed to anyone's feeling of exclusion or erasure."
On her Instagram account, Bell also released a statement of her own to further explain the mutual decision to recast Molly Tillerman. "Playing the character of Molly on Central Park shows a lack of awareness of my pervasive privilege. Casting a mixed race character with a white actress undermines the specificity of the mixed race and Black American experience," Bell says. "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."
Also on Wednesday, Big Mouth voice actress Jenny Slate announced that she won't be playing that show's Molly when the show returns for season four on Netflix. The reasoning behind her decision was explained in an Instagram post, with the actress sharing the same sentiments of the Central Park team. "Black characters on an animated show should be played by Black people," Slate said in the post. As with Bell, it seems likely Slate will stay with the series in another capacity while the Molly character is recast.
At the start of 2020, Hank Azaria also announced his retirement from voicing the popular character Apu on The Simpsons as he didn't want to make anyone uncomfortable with his portrayal. Producers of The Simpsons have also suggested that the character will stick around, but as of now, no new actors have been cast to take over the role. The Kwik-E-Mart owner hasn't spoken on the series since 2017 due to concerns raised that the character was not a fair representation of Indian-Americans.
This news comes to us from TV Line.