Old Hibbert, Hibbert, new Hibbert.
Photo-Illustration: de Vulutre; Photos by Andy Kropa / Invision / AP / Shutterstock, FOX, Rob Latour / Invision / AP / Shutterstock
After more than 30 years of voicing a black character in The Simpsons, white voice actor Harry Shearer steps away from role. According to a Fox representative, Shearer’s portrayal of Black’s character Dr. Hibbert during last night’s season 32 episode “Diary Queen” marked the last time he will voice the character. Beginning with the February 28 episode “Wad Goals,” Kevin Michael Richardson, who had voice roles The Simpsons since 2009 and has also voiced roles in Seth MacFarlane Family Guy, The Cleveland Show, Y american father – will assume the role of Dr. Hibbert permanently. Shearer had played Hibbert from the show’s second season in 1990, through the show’s current 32nd season; prior to last night’s episode, he voiced the role on the episode “Podcast News,” which aired in November 2020. Shearer declined to comment on the recast through a representative for the show.
The recasting of white voice actors playing characters of color gained new attention after the Black Lives Matter protests in the summer of 2020, but the conversation about who has the voice Simpsons characters has been going on since at least 2017, when the debate surrounding Hank Azaria voicing the Indian character Apu Nahasapeemapetilon was highlighted in Hari Kondabolu’s documentary. The problem with Apu. Despite Kondabolu’s rejection of criticism of Simpsons creator Matt Groening (and an answer on the show itself), Azaria decided to step down from the role in February 2020. “Once I realized that was the way this character was thought of,” she told the New York Times, “I just didn’t want to participate in it anymore. It just didn’t feel right. “
In June 2020, before the current season, the Simpsons producers issued a statement: “In the future, The Simpsons there will no longer be white actors voicing non-white characters. ”Since then, characters like Carl Carlson from Azaria (now voiced by Alex Désert) and Kumiko Albertson from Tress MacNeille (now voiced by Jenny Yokobori) have been recast Shearer, however, is previously recorded as disagreeing with the show’s stance on recasting the POC roles voiced by white actors. “I have a very simple belief about acting,” he said in an August interview on Times Radio. “The actor’s job is to play someone he is not.” Shearer added that he believes “there is a mix between representation, which is important,” adding: “People of all backgrounds need to be represented in the writing and production of business purposes to help decide which stories have and with what knowledge … the job is to play someone I’m not. “