Jenny Slate Exits Big Mouth So Her Biracial Character Can Be Played By a Black Actor

Jenny Slate has decided to step down as one of the lead characters on Netflix's Big Mouth so the biracial character can be recast

By Lauren Piester Jun 24, 2020 10:24 PMTags
Jenny Slate, Big MouthJohn Salangsang/Shutterstock; Netflix

Jenny Slate is stepping down from her role on Big Mouth

Slate has voiced the character of Missy, who is biracial, since the start of the Netflix animated comedy, and she announced on Wednesday that after three seasons, she would no longer be playing that part. The show has already been renewed through season six. 

"I have come to the decision today that I can no longer play the character of Missy on the animated TV show Big Mouth," she wrote in a statement posted to Instagram. "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." 

"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," she continued. "Ending my portrayal of Missy is one step in a life-long process of uncovering the racism in my actions." 

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"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," Slate continued. "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 a part of the problem. Most importantly, though, to anyone that I've hurt: I am so very sorry. Black voices must be heard. Black Lives Matter." 

Big Mouth co-creator Nick Kroll also released a statement on his own social media, explaining that they will be casting a Black actor in the role. 

"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," he wrote in a statement along with fellow creators Andrew Goldberg, Mark Levin, and Jennifer Flackett. "We sincerely regret our original decision to cast a white actor to voice a biracial character. We made a mistake, took our privilege for granted, and we're working hard to do better moving forward." 

"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," the statement continued. "We thank Jenny for her decision and for creating with us an inspiring, compassionate, and very human character. We look forward to being able to explore Missy's story with even greater authenticity in the years to come." 

Big Mouth also stars Nick Kroll, John Mulaney, Jessi Klein, Jason Mantzoukas, Fred Armisen, Maya Rudolph, and Jordan Peele

The first three seasons of the Netflix comedy are streaming now. 

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