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Kevin Michael Richardson To Voice Dr. Hibbert on The Simpsons

KMR takes over as Harry Shearer steps down from voicing the Black character.

kevin michael richardson

In a move that is long overdue, The Simpsons has announced that veteran voice actor Harry Shearer will step away from the role of Dr. Hibbert. Shearer, who voices many iconic Springfieldians including Mr. Burns, Waylon Smithers, Principal Skinner, and Ned Flanders, will be replaced by actor Kevin Michael Richardson.

Richardson, who 90s kids may remember as Goro in Mortal Kombat, has lent his voice to dozens of animated roles throughout the course of his career. KMR has appeared on Family Guy, American Dad!, F is for Family, DC Super Hero Girls, Avengers Assemble, and many more. He has also voiced several characters on The Simpsons since 2009, such as Anger Watkins and Maxwell Flinch. Richardson has been nominated twice for Daytime Emmys for voicing the Joker in the animated series The Batman in 2005 and 2008.

The casting change comes several months after animated series Central Park and Big Mouth recast Kristen Bell and Jenny Slate, respectively, with actors of color Emmy Raver-Lampman and Ayo Edebiri. YouTube star Arif Zahir took over voicing Cleveland Brown from Mike Henry on Family Guy. The long-sought changes came about with the Black Lives Matter protests last summer, which saw Hollywood struggling to reckon with its own racist history.

At the time, Shearer defended himself by saying “I have a very simple belief about acting, … The job of the actor is to play someone who they’re not,” adding “That’s the gig. That’s the job description.” Shearer continued, “I think there’s a conflation between representation, which is important … People from all backgrounds should be represented in the writing and producing ends of the business so they help decide what stories to tell and with what knowledge.”

Not great, Shearer, but fairly on-brand for your average septuagenarian white dude. Speaking of, series creator Matt Groening has also shared some problematic opinions on the controversy, saying “I’m proud of what we do on the show. And I think it’s a time in our culture where people love to pretend they’re offended.”

The Simpsons is no stranger to voice actor controversy, which was highlighted in comedian Hari Kondabolu’s documentary The Problem With Apu, which delved into the racist impact of the character Apu Nahasapeemapetilon. Soon after the documentary, Hank Azaria stepped down from voicing Apu and Black character Carl Carlson, who is now voiced by Alex Désert. The role of Apu will remain on the series, but has yet to be recast.

Shearer voiced Dr. Hibbert for the last time on this on Sunday’s episode, “Diary Queen.” Incidentally, Shearer’s last outing will also feature a farewell to beloved character actress Marcia Wallace, who voiced Edna Krabappel until her death in 2013. The episode features Wallace’s voice, taken from previous episodes, as Bart finds her long-lost diary.

(via Variety, featured image: 20th Century Fox/Amy Sussman/Getty Images for Entertainment Weekly)

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Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. An pop culture journalist since 2012, her work has appeared on Autostraddle, AfterEllen, and more. Her beats include queer popular culture, film, television, republican clownery, and the unwavering belief that 'The Long Kiss Goodnight' is the greatest movie ever made. She currently resides in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband, 2 sons, and one poorly behaved rescue dog. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.