The Simpsons Actor Harry Shearer Responds To Show's Decision To Stop Having White People Voice Non-White Characters

Shearer voices Dr. Julius Hibbert on the TV show, and he says "the job of the actor is to play someone who they are not."

The producers of the long-running animated show The Simpsons recently announced they will stop using white actors to play non-white characters. One of the show's voice actors, Harry Shearer, has now commented on the choice, saying he is not exactly in agreement.

Shearer, who is white, voices the Black doctor Julius Hibbert on The Simpsons (among many other characters). "I have a very simple belief about acting," Shearer told Times Radio (via Deadline). "The job of the actor is to play someone who they're not."

Shearer, 76, didn't flatly say that The Simpsons producers' made a mistake in their decision about race and casting, but he said it comes with the territory of an actor to play a variety of characters.

The actor said he sees a "conflation" between representation and performance.

"People from all backgrounds should be represented in the writing and producing ends of the business so they help decide what stories to tell and with what knowledge," Shearer said. "The job is playing someone I'm not."

Shearer also voices a series of white characters on The Simpsons, including Mr. Burns, Waylon Smithers, Ned Flanders, Reverend Lovejoy, Kent Brockman, Otto Mann, Lenny Leonard, and Principal Skinner.

This newest development for The Simpsons follows an earlier decision between the producers and voice actor Hank Azaria to recast the character of Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, an Indian character. It has not been announced who will voice the character going forward yet.

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