Jenny Slate Exits ‘Big Mouth’: Black Animated Characters ‘Should Be Played by Black People’

Stepping aside. Jenny Slate, who has voiced the character of Missy Foreman-Greenwald since the 2017 Netflix debut of Big Mouth, has decided to leave the series to make room for a Black actor to join the show.

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“I have come to the decision today that I can no longer play the character of ‘Missy’ on the animated TV show Big Mouth. 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, 38, wrote on Instagram on Wednesday, June 24. “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.”

Jenny Slate Exits Big Mouth
Jenny Slate attends the Variety Sundance Studio presented by AT&T in Park City, Utah on January 26, 2019. John Salangsang/Variety/Shutterstock

She then noted, “Ending my portrayal of ‘Missy’ is one step in a life-long process of uncovering the racism in my actions,” explaining that while she can’t change what happened in the past, she can be aware of what’s going on in the future.

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“I can take accountability for my choices,” the Parks and Recreation alum wrote. “I will continue to engage in meaningful anti-racism 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 a part of the problem.”

The creators of the show, Nick Kroll, Andrew Goldberg, Mark Levin and Jennifer Flackett, also spoke out via Twitter, supporting the actress’ decision to leave the show. “We sincerely apologize for and regret our original decision to cast a white actor to voice a biracial character,” the group began in a statement before thanking Slate for coming forward and inspiring them.

Jenny Slate as Missy Foreman-Greenwald on Big Mouth
Big Mouth Netflix

“We wholeheartedly agree that Missy on Big Mouth should be voiced by a Black actor,” they continued. “We are proud of the representation that Missy has offered cerebral, sensitive women of color, and we plan to continue that representation and further grow Missy’s character as we recast a new Black actor to play her. … We look forward to being able to explore Missy’s story with even greater authenticity in the years to come.”

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After season 3 aired, Netflix renewed the animated series for three more seasons. Season 4, which will premiere in the fall, has already wrapped so Slate will still voice Missy for that season.

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