‘Central Park’: Kristen Bell Will No Longer Voice Mixed-Race Character Molly; Will Play New Role On Apple TV+ Animated Series
Kristen Bell will no longer speak to Molly, a mixed character in Apple TV's animated musical comedy series Central Park. Bell, who described Molly as an "act of complicity" who "shows a lack of awareness of my omnipresent privilege," will stay on the show produced by 20th Century Fox TV and play a new character.
Netflix's animated comedy Big Mouthmade made a similar change today when Jenny Slate leaves the cast in which she speaks Missy, a biracial girl. The role is newly cast with a black actor. Both decisions have been in the works for a while.
Central Park, which has a two-season order on Apple TV +, comes from Bob's Burgers inventor / EP Loren Bouchard, who created it together with Bob's Burgers executive producer Nora Smith and Josh Gad.
“Kristen Bell is an exceptionally talented actress who joined the cast of Central Park from day one of the show's development - before there was a character she could play - and has since done a fun, warm, 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 them in full below).
Related video: Jenny Slate steps down from the biracial 'Big Mouth' role
"But after thinking, Kristen realizes, along with the entire creative team, that casting the character of Molly is an opportunity to get the representation right - casting a black or mixed actress and giving Molly a voice that resonates with everyone and nuances Experience of the character as we drew it. Kristen will continue to be part of the heart of the show in a new role, but we'll find a new actress to give Molly her voice. "
Due to the long production cycle for an animated series, season 2 has already been recorded and is currently being animated. The role of Molly is to be cast again in the second season, with her dialogue being re-recorded. (Big Mouth will keep Slate as Missy's voice in the upcoming fourth season, already in the can, and will re-cast the role from season 5.)
At the TCA in January, Bouchard was criticized for having Bell as Molly's voice. Bell ”had to be Molly, she would always honor this character. We couldn't make Molly White or Kristen a mixed breed, so we had to go forward, ”he said at the time.
In a note posted on Instagram alongside statements from Central Park executive producers, Bell said:
This is a time to acknowledge our complicity. Here is one of me. Playing Molly's character in Central Park shows a lack of awareness of my omnipresent privilege. Casting a mixed race with a white actress undermines the peculiarity of the mixed race and the experience of black Americans. It was wrong and we on the Central Park team are committed to doing it right. I am happy to be able to hand this role over to someone who can give a much more accurate account, and I will commit myself to learning, growing, and doing my part for equality and inclusion.
The first season of Central Park is currently broadcast on Apple TV +. The cast also includes Gad, Titus Burgess, Kathryn Hahn and Leslie Odom Jr., as well as Daveed Diggs and Stanley Tucci, who both play female characters.
Here is the full explanation from Central Park's executive producers, committing themselves to diversity "behind the microphone, in the author's room, in production, and in post-production":
Kristen Bell is an exceptionally talented actress who joined the cast of Central Park almost from day one of the show's development - before she even had a character - and has since performed a fun, warm, and beautiful performance.
But after thinking, Kristen, along with the entire creative team, realizes that casting the character of Molly is an opportunity to get the representation right - cast a black or mixed actress and give Molly a voice that resonates with every nuance and experience the figure as we drew it. Kristen will continue to be part of the heart of the show in a new role, but we'll find a new actress to give Molly her voice.
We deeply regret that we may have contributed to the feeling of exclusion or deletion.
Blacks and blacks have worked and will continue to work on Central Park, but we can do better. We have set ourselves the task of creating opportunities for black and white in all roles and in all of our projects - behind the microphone, in the author's room, in production and in post-production. The animation will be stronger if we have as many voices, experiences and perspectives as we can possibly bring to the industry. Our business and show are better suited to respect the nuances and complexity of representation and try to do it right.
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