After three seasons voicing Missy Foreman-Greenwald on Big Mouth, actress Jenny Slate has announced she will no longer be playing the character on Netflix‘s animated comedy series. Slate, who is white, explained on Instagram today that she no longer feels comfortable portraying a biracial character who is also Black.
In a statement released on her Instagram account today, Slate said she “can no longer play the character.”
“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,” Slate said. “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 flayed, 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.”
Big Mouth creator Nick Kroll posted a statement about Slate’s departure supporting her decision, which was signed by co-creators Andrew Goldberg, Mark Levin, and Jennifer Flackett.
“After thoughtful discussion with us and our Black collaborators, Jenny Slate has decided, and we wholeheartedly agree, that Missy on Big Mouth should be voiced by a Black actor,” Kroll wrote. “We sincerely apologize for and regret our original decision to cast a white actor to voice a biracial character.”
While Slate is leaving the show, Missy will not be written out of Big Mouth. Kroll confirmed that they would recast the role for the upcoming season.
“We are proud of the representation that Missy has offered cerebral, sensitive women of color, and we plan to continue that representation and further grow Missy’s character as we recast a new Black actor to play her,” he wrote. “We look forward to being able to explore Missy’s story with even greater authenticity in the years to come.”
Stream Big Mouth on Netflix