America’s most beloved aminated family, The Simpsons, will no longer use white voice actors to voice characters of color, according to the show’s producers. A statement released on Friday by a Fox spokesperson, reads in part, “Moving forward, The Simpsons will no longer have white actors voice non-white characters.”
The Simpsons, for much of their 31-years on the air, have used white actors to voice the majority of their characters like Dr. Julius Hibbert and the Kwik-E-Mart clerk, Apu Nahasapeemapetilon.
Over the years, the Fox Network has endured criticism over Apu, whose character speaks with a heavy South Asian accent, but is voiced by Hank Azaria, a white actor. In a 2017 documentary, The Problem With Apu, comedian Hari Kondabolu argued the character had helped drive the stereotype of Indian-Americans.
“My documentary ‘The Problem with Apu’ was not made to get rid of a dated cartoon character, but to discuss race, representation & my community, which I love very much,” Kondabolu said. “It was also about how you can love something like the Simpsons and still be critical about aspects of Apu.”
Apu was eventually removed from the show after Hank Azaria announced in January that he would no longer voice Apu after 684 episodes, a decision that Azaria and the show’s producers say was mutual.
“All we know there is I won’t be doing the voice anymore unless there’s some way to transition it or something,” Azaria tells Film, an industry news blog. “We all agreed on it,” he continued. “We all feel like it’s the right thing and feel good about it.”