“The Simpsons” producers announced their move stop practicing the use of White actors to voice non-White characters in the show.
“Moving forward, The Simpsons will no longer have white actors voice non-white characters,” Fox spokesperson Les Eisner said Friday.
Since the animated sitcom began three decades ago, White actors have voiced a number of non-White characters, which includes Hank Azaria as Apu Nahasapeemapetilon and Harry Shearer as Dr. Julius Hibbert.
Azaria announced in January that after 30 years, he would stop voicing Apu, the thickly accented Indian-American character.
The announcement comes after years of public pressure about the show’s Indian Kwik-E-Mart convenience store owner.
“All we know there is I won’t be doing the voice anymore, unless there’s some way to transition it or something,” he said.
He clarified that the decision to remove him from the role was mutual, stressing that they “feel like it’s the right thing and good about it.”
The statement, however, did not clarify whether Apu or the others characters would remain on the series.
Azaria also gave his voice to other non-White Simpsons characters, including Black police officer Lou and the Mexican-American Bumblebee Man.
In 2017, comedian Hari Kondabolu thrust controversy over Apu’s character through his documentary, “The Problem with Apu.”
Kondabolu said that his documentary “was not made to get rid of a dated cartoon character, but to discuss race, representation & my community.”
“It was also about how you can love something (like the Simpsons) & still be critical about aspects of it (Apu),” he added.
The show responded in an April 2018 episode, wherein the young Lisa Simpson said, “Something that started decades ago and was applauded and inoffensive is now politically incorrect. What can you do?”
Azaria made it clear in an interview that he disagreed with how the show handled the criticism, and “he’d be happy to step aside from Apu.”