Jenny Slate, the voice actor for “Missy” on the hit Netflix animated series Big Mouth, has announced that she will be leaving the show. In a lengthy, heartfelt apology on Instagram, the actress expressed her feelings of guilt having been the voice for a Black character. Slate believes that now more than ever there should be more attention to diversity, especially when it comes to voice acting.
“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 I am,” Slate wrote. “But ‘Missy’ is also Black, and Black characters on an animated show should be played by Black people.”
She continued to explain that her reasoning came from a place of white privilege and that by accepting the role she was “engaging in an act of erasure of Black people.” She continued, “ending my portrayal of ‘Missy’ is one step in a life-long process of uncovering the racism in my actions.”
Big Mouth, created by comedian Nick Kroll, has become the choice cult comedy among Gen Z and Millennials. The success of the 3-year-old show was due in part to its star-studded cast, which includes Slate, Maya Rudolph, Fred Armisen, John Mulaney and Jordan Peele. The series has already been approved for three more seasons. According to Buzzfeed, Slate has already recorded the fourth season which is set to premiere later this year. After this season, Netflix will recast the role of Missy.
“As I look back on the nature and emergence of my own voice in comedy, I know that I have made mistakes along the way,” wrote Slate. “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 part of the problem.”
She finished out her statement concluding, “Most importantly, though, to anyone that I’ve hurt: I am so very sorry. Black voices must be heard. Black Lives Matter.”