Actress Jenny Slate said she will no longer voice the bi-racial character Missy on Netflix’s animated series Big Mouth, saying that as a white woman, she was exercising her “white privilege” and engaging in the “erasure of Black people.”
The actress announced her decision in an Instagram post in which she said that she has benefited from a “system of societal white supremacy.”
Jenny Slate said that she rationalized her decision to play Missy because like herself, the character’s mother is Jewish and white. “But ‘Missy’ is also Black and Black characters on an animated show should be played by Black people,” she wrote.
The actress apologized for exercising her “white privilege.”
“I acknowledge how my original reasoning was flawed, that it existed as an example of white privilege and unjust allowances made within a societal system of white supremacy,” she wrote. “In me playing ‘Missy,’ I was engaging in an act of erasure of Black people.”
“Ending my portrayal of ‘Missy’ is one step in a life-long process of uncovering the racism of my actions.”
Slate concluded by saying that she is sorry to anyone she hurt by playing Missy. “I am so very sorry. Black voices must be heard. Black Lives Matter.”
Big Mouth is based on comedian Nick Kroll’s upbringing in suburban New York. Slate plays Missy Foreman-Greenwald, a half-Jewish, half-black nerd who wears braces and loves books.
Jenny Slate starred in the 2014 abortion-themed drama Obvious Child, in which her character visits a Planned Parenthood.
The actress, who was once romantically linked with Captain America star Chris Evans, was briefly a cast member of Saturday Night Live. She has voiced characters on numerous animated TV shows, including Bob’s Burgers and Disney’s Star vs. the Forces of Evil.