Jenny Slate is stepping down from her role as Missy on the hit Netflix series Big Mouth.
Slate, who is a white, Jewish woman, has voiced the character since Big Mouth launched in 2017. But Missy is biracial, with a white, Jewish mother and a Black father. In her statement explaining the departure, posted on Instagram, Slate directly addresses the issue.
“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. But ‘Missy’ is also Black, and Black characters on an animated show should be played by Black people,” the statement reads.
Slate goes on to acknowledge that her original reasoning was rooted in her own white privilege, and amounted to “an act of erasure of Black people.” She also calls her exit from the show “one step in a life-long process of uncovering the racism in my actions.”
Shortly after Slate posted her statement, Nick Kroll, speaking on behalf of all four Big Mouth co-creators, shared a statement of support for Slate’s move on Twitter, along with an apology for casting her in the role to begin with.
“After thoughtful discussion with us and our Black collaborators, Jenny Slate has decided, and we wholeheartedly agree, that Missy on Big Mouth should be voiced by a Black actor,” the statement reads. Kroll also makes it clear that while Missy will be recast, the character herself will continue to embody the same qualities she has all along.
“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.”
Big Mouth‘s third season launched on Netflix in Oct. 2019. At least three more seasons are coming thanks to a deal the streaming service struck with the creators a few months before the third season launched. There’s currently no date on the calendar for the release of Season 4, but stay tuned.