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Jenny Slate on vacating Black role on 'Big Mouth': 'Not a hard decision'

The actress says it's time we start "making the much-needed space that a white society has taken over."
/ Source: TODAY

Jenny Slate stands by her decision to walk away from her role as the biracial character Missy on Netflix’s animated series “Big Mouth.”

“The first thing I want to say is that I’m reluctant to call attention to myself because the moment is really about Black voices and making the much-needed space that a white society has taken over,” the actress told Dylan Dreyer Thursday on the 3rd hour of TODAY.

Last month, Slate announced her decision with a lengthy explanation on Instagram.

“I was engaging in an act of erasure of Black people. Ending my portrayal of ‘Missy’ is one step in a life-long process of uncovering the racism in my actions,” she wrote, in part.

Slate, 38, told TODAY vacating the part was a no-brainer.

“It was not a hard decision to make, but I will say that I wish it had been earlier in my life that I had educated myself about the world that I live in,” she said.

Slate had voiced Missy on "Big Mouth," seen here on the right.
Slate had voiced Missy on "Big Mouth," seen here on the right.Netflix

“And once I realized the mistakes that I was making it wasn’t a hard decision. And what I mean by the erasure of Black people is that an actress exists who can play that part. Just because my ethnicity, that I’m white and I’m Jewish, is one half of that character, it doesn’t mean that there’s not a biracial actress that can play it. I really look forward to a time when that space is filled by the person who rightfully deserves it.”

Slate is not the only actor to leave a role in which she played someone of a different race. Kristen Bell elected to step down from voicing Molly, a mixed-race character on the Apple TV+ show “Central Park.”

Their decisions come in the wake of a national conversation about race following the death of George Floyd.

Slate said in her Instagram statement that she wants this moment in history to serve as a wake-up call.

“I hope there’s a general shift in our culture towards understanding where we’ve come from, how our country began and, really, unlearning some elements of how we behave and interact and learning new ways to share our cultural space,” she wrote.