“Going forward, The Simpsons will no longer have white actors with non-white voice characters,” Fox spokesman Les Eisner said Friday.
For the three decades since the animated sitcom began, he has used white actors to play various non-white characters, including Harry Shearer as Dr. Julius Hibbert and Hank Azaria as Apu Nahasapeemapetilon.
In January, Azaria announced that she would stop giving voice to Apu after 30 years playing the thick American accent. Azaria is not South Asian.
According to the film, the decision to remove Azaria from Abu’s voice was mutual. “We all agreed,” he said. “We all feel it’s right and good.”
“My documentary‘ The Problem with Apu ’was not made to get rid of a dated cartoon character, but to talk about race, representation and my community (which I love very much),” Kondabolu wrote. “It was also about how you can love something (like the Simpsons) and be critical with aspects (Apu).”
In his paper, Kondabolu interviewed celebrities of South Asian descent, including Aziz Ansari and Kal Penn, to discuss how characterizations like Apu can be seen as racism.
In the episode, young Lisa Simpson said, “Something that started decades ago and was applauded and harmless is now politically incorrect. What can you do?” Lisa then took a look at a framed photograph of Apu inscribed with the message “Don’t have a cow.”
“The idea that someone, young or old, past or present, had an intimidation or a mockery based on Apu’s character, really makes me sad,” said Azaria, who sees other characters on the show.
“It was certainly not my intention,” he said. “I wanted to spread laughter and joy with this character, and the idea that it causes pain and suffering in any way, that it serves to marginalize people, is annoying.”
CNN’s Frank Pallotta, Brian Lowry, and Leah Asmelash contributed to this article.