Jenny Slate Exits ‘Big Mouth,’ Believes ‘Black Characters Should Be Played by Black People’
Actress and comedienne Jenny Slate has decided to exit the animated Netflix series after playing Missy, a young girl of mixed race.
Slate’s decision comes amidst civil unrest and racial injustice after the senseless murder of George Floyd last month in Minneapolis, sparking Black Lives Matter protests across the globe.
This movement also increased discussion on how Hollywood approaches casting actors for specific characters.
Slate stated in an Instagram post, “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. 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 flawed, 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.”
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Slate has been thoughtful of her career in comedy and the privileges she has had in the industry as a white woman. “As I look back on the nature and emergences of my own voice in comedy, I know that I have made mistakes along the way. I can’t change the past but I can take accountability for my choices. I will continue to engage in meaningful anti-racist action, to be thoughtful about the messages in my work, to be curious and open to feedback, and to do my best to take responsibility for the ways that I am a part of the problem.”
Big Mouth premiered on Netflix in 2017, with three seasons behind its roster. Three more seasons have been ordered. Creators Nick Kroll, Andrew Goldberg, Mark Levin, and Jennifer Flackett made a joint statement, cosigning on Slate’s decision to leave the show.
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According to Buzzfeed News, Slate had already recorded her voice acting for season four of the show, which is set to release later this year. Afterward, Netflix will recast the role. Fans of the show have had lengthy discussions about both Slate and the showrunners’ outcome.
it was just her personal beliefs i suppose, no one wanted to or pressured her to, she just wanted a black woman to play one. but your point is very true, as ariel is being played by a black woman in the upcoming remake and i’m sure she will be astounding
— ryan #BLM (@thelightryan) June 24, 2020
We stand with Slate and her decision, as well as the call for more diversity in Hollywood. If you would like to gain more information about the Black Lives Matter movement, sign petitions, join peaceful events and donate, visit blacklivesmatter.carrd.co.