Actress Kristen Bell, known for her starring roles in “Veronica Mars” and “The Good Place” will no longer voice a mixed-race character “Molly” for the series “Central Park.”
Bell calls the decision to play the role an “act of complicity” that “shows a lack of awareness of my pervasive privilege.”
Bell recently was featured in a “I take responsibility” PSA that was mocked by many as “cringeworthy.”
Deadline reports Kristen Bell will no longer voice Molly, a mixed-race character on Apple TV+’s animated musical comedy series Central Park. Bell, who called playing Molly “act of complicity” that “shows a lack of awareness of my pervasive privilege,” will remain on the 20th Century Fox TV-produced show, playing a new character.
Netflix’s animated comedy Big Mouthmade a similar change today, with Jenny Slate exiting the cast where she voices Missy, a biracial girl. The role will be recast with a Black actor. Both decisions had been in the works for a while.
Central Park, which has a two-season order at Apple TV+, hails from Bob’s Burgers creator/EP Loren Bouchard, who co-created it with Bob’s Burgers executive producer Nora Smith and Josh Gad.
“Kristen Bell is an extraordinarily talented actress who joined the cast of Central Park from nearly the first day of the show’s development – before there was even a character for her to play – and she has since delivered a funny, heartfelt, and beautiful performance,” Bouchard, Smith, Gad and the rest of Central Park‘s creative team, Halsted Sullivan and Sanjay Shah, said in a statement (you can read it in full below).
“But after reflection, Kristen, along with the entire creative team, recognizes that the casting of the character of Molly is an opportunity to get representation right – to cast a Black or mixed race actress and give Molly a voice that resonates with all of the nuance and experiences of the character as we’ve drawn her. Kristen will continue to be a part of the heart of the show in a new role but we will find a new actress to lend her voice to Molly.”
Because of the lengthy production cycle for an animated series, Season 2 already has been recorded and is currently being animated. The intent is for the Molly role to be recast as soon as Season 2, with her dialogue rerecorded. (Big Mouth is keeping Slate as the voice of Missy in the upcoming fourth season, already in the can, and will recast the role starting with Season 5.)
At TCA in January, Bouchard faced criticism over casting Bell as the voice of Molly. Bell “needed to be Molly, she was always going to honor that character. We couldn’t make Molly white or Kristen mixed race, so we had to go forward,” he said at the time.
In a note posted on Instagram next to the statement from the Central Park exec producers, Bell said:
This is a time to acknowledge our acts of complicity. Here is one of mine. 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. It was wrong and we, on the Central Park team, are pledging to make it right. I am 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.