The Simpsons Replace White Voice Actor Of Dr Hibbert After 30 Years
Harry Shearer has provided the voice of Dr Julius Hibbert and loads of other characters on The Simpsons for the past 30 years.
But, he's handing over the reigns of the iconic animated doctor to veteran voice actor Kevin Michael Richardson.
Shearer will continue to provide the voices for his other longtime characters, including Ned Flanders, Principal Skinner and Mr Burns.
Fox confirmed to Deadline that the show's most recent episode, Diary Queen, would be the last to feature Shearer as the voice of Dr Hibbert and that Richardson will take over the character's voice from February 28.
Richardson is no stranger to the world of animated comedy, having provided his voice for roles on Family Guy, American Dad!, Guardians of the Galaxy, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Bless The Harts, among others.
It comes in wake of growing discussions around white voice actors voicing characters of other ethnicities.
The most famous debate revolved around fellow Simpsons star Hank Azaria retiring the voice of Kwik-E-Mart owner Apu Nahasapeemapetilon after heavy criticism.
In an interview with the New York Times last year, Azaria revealed he didn't want to continue with the character after learning how it made fans feel.
"Once I realised that that was the way this character was thought of, I just didn't want to participate in it anymore," Azaria said.
"It just didn't feel right."
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He added that it set an important precedent for other shows to follow.
"What happened with this character is a window into an important issue," Azaria said. "It's a good way to start the conversation. I can be accountable and try to make up for it as best I can."
Speaking to Film when he announced the decision to retire Apu, he said: "All we know there is I won't be doing the voice anymore unless there's some way to transition it or something."
The executive producers of the show accepted Hank's decision.
Later, Azaria also announced that he would no longer voice Homer's pal and co-worker, Carl Carlson, who is black.
A slew of animated shows soon followed suit, with Family Guy veteran Mike Henry announcing last year that he would no longer voice the black Cleveland Brown in the long-running series.
Netflix comedy Big Mouth also took note, with white actress Jenny Slate - the voice of black and Jewish character Missy - would be bowing out of the role in favour of a black voice actor.
"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 wrote on Instagram at the time.
"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."
Featured Image Credit: FOX
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