The white actor behind the voice of The Simpsons character, Dr. Hibbert, has been replaced by a black artist.
Harry Shearer, who also voices other characters in the series including Ned Flanders and Principal Skinner, is handing over the role after more than 30 years to Kevin Michael Richardson, the Fox Network has reported.
The broadcaster announced in June 2020 that it stop using white actors to express non-white characters, with Hank Azaria confirming earlier in the year that he no longer express the character of the Indian trader Apu.
The latest episode of Shearer as The Simpsons’ Chuckle Doctor, which is black, aired in the US this week
Richardson, best known for his work on other animated shows Family Guy, The Cleveland Show and American Dad, will debut in the next season 32 episode Wad Goals, Fox said.
The move follows the Black lives matter protests and cultural accounts in the entertainment industry following the death of George floyd in the United States in May 2020.
The Simpsons, which has been on the air since 1989, had faced years of criticism over Azaria voicing Apu. In 2017, a documentary called The Problem With Apu raised questions about the portrayal of the Kwik-E-Mart owner’s show.
“We all think it’s the right thing and it’s good,” Azaria said, announcing her resignation.
Other animated shows have also seen white stars step down from non-white roles in recent months.
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Mike Henry, a white actor, announced in 2020 that he was giving up voicing the character of Family Guy Cleveland Brown, while Frozen star Kristen Bell said she would no longer lend her voice to a non-white character in Apple. Central Park TV + comedy.
In a statement posted to social media at the time, Bell said playing the character of Molly Tillerman in Central Park showed “a lack of awareness of my pervasive privilege.”
She wrote: “The casting of a mixed race character with a white actress undermines the uniqueness of the mixed race and black American experience.
“It was a mistake and we, the Central Park team, are committed to fixing it.”