The Simpsons Recasts Gay Character Julio With Gay Voice Actor
Iconic TV series The Simpsons has opted to recast one of its gay characters with a gay actor.
The long-running show has come under criticism over recent years for using white actors to do the voices of people of colour – most famously Hank Azaria’s widely recognisable voice for Kwik-E-Mart owner, Apu Nahasapeemapetilon.
It was announced a little over a year ago that Azaria, who voices several key characters on the show, will step down from voicing Apu. Later that same year, it was also declared that he would no longer voice Carl, instead being replaced by Black actor Alex Désert.
And now, it appears the popular animation has recast Azaria’s character Julio, too. As a gay person in the programme, having been both a love interest for Waylon Smithers and hairdresser for Marge Simpson, they’ve opted to hire a gay actor for the role.
Julio is now voiced by actor Tony Rodriguez, who is also Cuban as per his cartoon character.
Rodriguez made his Simpsons debut last month, and celebrated the achievement in an Instagram post that read: ‘Tonight I make my debut on The Simpsons as gay, Cuban Julio. This is a dream come true for me and I was already a living cartoon.’
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Azaria has since spoken out about the controversy of a heterosexual, white man playing the voice roles of either gay or non-white characters. ‘I really do apologise,’ the 56-year-old said, as per the Independent.
‘I was speaking at my son’s school, I was talking to the Indian kids there because I wanted to get their input,’ Azaria recalled. ‘A 17-year-old … he’s never even seen The Simpsons but knows what Apu means. It’s practically a slur at this point. All he knows is that is how his people are thought of and represented to many people in this country.’
Harry Shearer, who famously voices Mr Burns, Smithers, and countless other characters, also retired from performing as the voice of Doctor Julius Hibbert, who is a Black character in the series.
Elsewhere, white voice actor Mike Henry, a regular on the show Family Guy since 1999, also stepped down from his role of Cleveland Brown, an African-American character on the show, and made the announcement on Twitter last summer.
‘It’s been an honor to play Cleveland on Family Guy for 20 years. I love this character, but persons of color should play characters of color. Therefore, I will be stepping down from the role,’ his post said, which divided fans and generated a lot of discussion over the idea of white actors voicing non-white characters.
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