After more than 30 years of playing Dr Julius Hibbert on The Simpsons, Harry Shearer, who portrayed the Black character since 1990, will be replaced by voice actor Kevin Michael Richardson. According to Variety, for the Sunday episode of ‘The Simpsons’, titled ‘DiaryQueen’, Shearer voiced Dr Hibbert for the final time. Next week’s episode titled ‘Wad Goals’ will feature Richardson taking over the role. The Simpsons Will No Longer Have White Actors Voice Non-White Characters On the Show.
Since the show’s debut in 1989, Shearer has voiced Mr Burns, Ned Flanders, Mr Smithers, Principal Skinner, and more on the show. Richardson, himself also has worked on ‘The Simpsons’ since 2009, providing the voices for many characters. He has also worked on animated shows like ‘Family Guy’, ‘The Cleveland Show’, ‘American Dad’ and many others. As per Variety, this recasting comes after the show’s producers back in June 2020 said that white actors will no longer play non-white characters. Disney Plus Hotstar Premium to Launch All 31 Seasons of The Simpsons.
Before this, Hank Azaria voiced the Indian character Apu Nahasapeemapetilon for years, drawing backlash among fans and the South Asian community. Azaria stepped down from the role in January 2020, and he was also replaced by Black voice actor Alex Desert as Carl Carlson in a fall 2020 episode.