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The Simpsons ditches using white voices for characters of colour

Animated TV comedy The Simpsons is ending the use of white actors to voice characters of colour, producers said on Friday (Jun 26).

"Moving forward, The Simpsons will no longer have white actors voice non-white characters," they said in a brief statement.

The statement did not elaborate but the move follows years of public pressure about the Fox television show's Indian convenience store character Apu, who is voiced by Hank Azaria.

Azaria said earlier this year that he would no longer play the character, which has been criticised as a negative portrayal of Indian-Americans.

Hank Azaria, of Fox's The Simpsons, arrives at the 68th Primetime Emmy Awards in Los Angeles, California, US, Sep 18, 2016. (Photo: Reuters/Lucy Nicholson/Files) Hank Azaria, of Fox's "The Simpsons," arrives at the 68th Primetime Emmy Awards in Los Angeles, California, U.S., September 18, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/Files

Azaria has also voiced the Simpsons characters of black police officer Lou and the Mexican-American Bumblebee Man. Harry Shearer has played Dr Hibbert, who is black.

Friday's statement did not say whether Apu or the other characters would remain on the series.

Bumbling Homer Simpson, housewife Marge, troublemaker Bart, prodigy Lisa and baby Maggie, have captured the changing face of America for more than 30 years in the longest-running scripted show on US television.

The Simpsons is syndicated in more than 100 countries.

Friday's announcement comes amidst a widespread reckoning for US pop culture about racism following mass protests this month over the killings of black Americans by police.

Other white actors, including Mike Henry of animated series Family Guy and Kristen Bell of Central Park, have also said they will no longer voice characters of colour.

"It's been an honour to play Cleveland on Family Guy for 20 years. I love this character, but persons of colour should play characters of colour. Therefore, I will be stepping down from the role," Henry said on Twitter on Friday.

(Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Sandra Maler)

Source: Reuters

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