Kristen Bell is stepping down as the voice of the mixed-race character Molly on Apple TV+’s “Central Park,” the show announced Wednesday.
She will be replaced by a Black or mixed-race actress, the show’s producers said in a statement. Bell will remain with the show in a different role.
“We profoundly regret that we might have contributed to anyone’s feeling of exclusion or erasure,” said the statement, which is credited to co-creators Loren Bouchard, Josh Gad and Nora Smith, as well as showrunners Halsted Sullivan and Sanjay Shah.
“Central Park” is currently midway through airing its first season on the streaming service, and has already been picked up for a second season.
Bell’s character Molly is the eldest child of the characters voiced by Leslie Odom Jr. and Kathryn Hahn. Her brother Cole is voiced by “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” star Tituss Burgess.
Bouchard previously addressed the decision to cast Bell as Molly at the Television Critics Association press tour earlier this year, saying that Bell — one of the first actors cast on the show — “couldn’t not” play Molly. “But then we couldn’t make Molly white and we couldn’t make Kristen mixed race so we just had to go forward,” he said at the time.
The decision to recast comes hours after “Big Mouth” star Jenny Slate announced that she would no longer voice the biracial character she had played on the show for the last three seasons. “Black characters on an animated show should be played by Black people,” Slate said her statement earlier Wednesday.
Read the full statement below.
— Josh Gad (@joshgad) June 24, 2020