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Simpsons recasts black character Dr. Hibbert because his voice actor was white

The wokening of “The Simpsons” continues, as another white voice actor will step down from his role voicing a minority character.

Harry Shearer, who has voiced the character of Dr. Hibbert since the long-running cartoon’s second season in 1990, will step away from his role and be replaced by a black voice actor, the Wrap reported Monday.

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

The recasting decision follows an announcement from “The Simpsons” last June that the show would no longer have white actors voice its characters with different skin colors. The decision was made after Black Lives Matter protests and Antifa riots erupted in the wake of George Floyd’s death. At the time, “Family Guy” voice actor Mike Henry announced he would no longer voice the black character Cleveland Brown on the show.

Shearer will continue to voice other roles on the show, such as Ned Flanders and Principal Skinner, but Richardson will take over as Hibbert.

Shearer did not provide a comment to the Wrap but previously he has criticized the show for indulging the idea that a white voice actor cannot portray a character with a different skin color.

“I have a very simple belief about acting,” he told Times Radio last August. “The job of the actor is to play someone who they are not.”

Dr. Hibbert is not the first minority Simpsons character to be recast because of racial issues.

Last January, actor Hank Azaria stepped away from his longtime role as convenience store owner Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, a character that appears to be of Indian descent. The character was eventually written off the show entirely because of a documentary by comedian Hari Kondabolu, which depicted Apu as a problematic stereotype that has had a detrimental impact on how Indian and Southeast Asian actors are treated in Hollywood.

“My eyes have been opened,” Azaria said of the documentary and the criticism surrounding it. “I think the most important thing is we have to listen to South Asian people, Indian people in this country when they talk about what they feel, how they think about this character, and what their American experience of it [is].”

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‘Simpsons’ voice actor slams show’s decision to stop having white actors portray cartoon characters of color

Actor Harry Shearer — who voices characters on “The Simpsons” — says the show is wrong for its decision to stop having white actors portray cartoon characters of people of color.

In June, the long-running animated show announced it would no longer permit white voice actors to play the roles of non-white characters

What are the details?

Shearer, who voices characters ,including Ned Flanders, Mr. Burns, and African American doctor Julius Hibbert, says that “the job of the actor is to play someone who they are not.”

The 76-year-old actor explains that the move simply doesn’t make any sense.

He told Times Radio that he will no longer be voicing Hibbert, but that it did not impact him or his income because he is not “paid by the voice.”

“I have a very simple belief about acting,” he said. “The job of the actor is to play someone who they are not.”

Shearer has worked on the show since 1989.

‘Ugly stereotypes about South Asians’

In January, actor Hank Azaria — who voices convenience store owner Apu Nahasapeemapetilon — announced he would no longer voice the character, which appears to be of Indian descent.

In public remarks, Azaria said that he was in favor of the move.

“All we know is I won’t be doing the voice anymore, unless there’s some way to transition it or something,” Azaria said.

The character was later phased out of the show altogether.

Azaria added, “We all made the decision together – we all agreed on it. We all feel like it’s the right thing and good about it.”

In 2018, the New York Times’ Vikas Bajaj wrote that the character simply “perpetuated ugly stereotypes about South Asians” when it came to the points of view of many Indian Americans and Indian immigrants.

A statement on the matter read, “Moving forward, The Simpsons will no longer have white actors voice non-white characters.”

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