White voice actor Harry Shearer will stop providing the voice of Dr. Hibbert, a black character, on The Simpsons.

Fox decided last June that it will not allow white actors to voice non-white characters in the show. That is a move Shearer criticized in August.

From The Wrap:

“Last night’s episode ‘DiaryQueen’ featured Harry Shearer as the voice of Dr. Hibbert for the last time,” “Simpsons” studio 20th Television said in a statement to TheWrap on Monday. “Next Sunday’s episode ‘Wad Goals’ will have Kevin Michael Richardson voicing Dr. Hibbert — and from there on out he will voice the character.”

Shearer had voiced the character of Hibbert since the show’s second season in 1990. He declined through a Fox representative TheWrap’s request for comment on stepping back from the role.

The recasting of Hibbert comes after Fox said last June that “The Simpsons” will no longer have white actors voice non-white characters on the animated series.

“Moving forward, ‘The Simpsons’ will no longer have white actors voice nonwhite characters,” the network said in a brief statement at the time, which came amid the resurgence of Black Lives Matter rallies in the wake of Black man George Floyd’s death in police custody.

Kevin Michael Richardson will replace Shearer. He has worked on The Simpsons since 2009 along with Family Guy and The Cleveland Show.

In August, Shearer said: “I have a very simple belief about acting. The job of the actor is to play someone who they are not. That’s the gig, that’s the job description.”

From The London Times:

In an interview with Matt Chorley on Times Radio yesterday Shearer, who also plays Waylon Smithers, Principal Skinner and Reverend Lovejoy, said actors should be able to play characters outside their personal experience, noting that he also had nothing in common with Mr Burns and Ned Flanders. “I have a very simple belief about acting. The job of the actor is to play someone who they are not. That’s the gig, that’s the job description,” he said.

He warned that diversity efforts were in danger of conflating “representation”, the important work of ensuring that the industry employs people and reflects the lives of different communities, with on-screen performance.

He declined to criticise the show directly, joking that “we don’t get paid by the voice” so he would not suffer financially from not playing Dr Hibbert. He said his favourite character was Mr Burns, the money-hungry nuclear power tycoon. “He’s pure evil, and nothing’s better than that for comedy.”

A woman voices Bart Simpson. Why should that stick? Shouldn’t a male provide the voice of a male character?

Will non-white people voice white people?

These are obviously rhetorical questions.


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