Kristen Bell Apologizes For Voicing Mixed-Race Character: “It Was Wrong”
In an effort to acknowledge an "act of complicity," Kristen Bell announced she'll no longer voice a mixed-race character on the Apple TV+ series Central Park. "It was wrong and we, on the Central Park team, are pledging to make it right," the actress wrote in a statement on Instagram.
The Good Place star had been voicing the character of Molly, a mixed-race young girl on the animated musical comedy series Central Park. In an Instagram post on Wednesday, Bell explained why she decided to walk away from playing Molly. "This is a time to acknowledge our acts of complicity. Here is one of mine," she began. "Playing the character of Molly on Central Park shows a lack of awareness of my pervasive privilege. Casting a mixed race character with a white actress undermines the specificity of the mixed race and Black American experience."
Bell went on to note that the character will continue to exist on the show, but that she is "happy to relinquish this role to someone who can give a much more accurate portrayal and I will commit to learning, growing and doing my part for equality and inclusion." The actress will continue to lend her voice to a different character on the show in a new role, according to a statement from the creators of Central Park, while efforts will be made to "cast a Black or mixed-raced actress and give Molly a voice that resonates with all of the nuance and experiences of the character as we've drawn her," will be made moving forward.
Central Park was created by Loren Bouchard and Nora Smith of Bob's Burgers, as well as Bell's Frozen co-star Josh Gad.
Bell's decision to step away from voicing a mixed-race character came on the heels of an announcement from Jenny Slate who said she would be walking away from her role on Big Mouth. As Slate explained in an Instagram post, she can "no longer play Missy on the animated TV show Big Mouth." Slate went on to admit that she initially thought it would be "permissable" for her to play Missy since her mother was Jewish and white like her. "But Missy is also Black, and Black characters on an animated show should be played by Black people."
As the world continues to come to terms with the depth of systemic racism that continues to exist in 2020, the actions of high profile actors make a difference. Moving forward, Bell said she "will commit to learning, growing and doing my part for equality and inclusion."