Fans of Big Mouth on Netflix already know that every character is going through changes – it’s the theme of the show! However, one character is going through an especially big change – one that reflects our evolving society and the demands for better hiring decisions in Hollywood.
The character of Missy Foreman-Greenwald is sweet, innocent, sensitive, and outgoing. She’s also mixed-race, which posed a major problem this year when viewers called out the show for allowing a White woman to play her.
Jenny Slate’s Resignation
Missy was originally voiced by Jenny Slate, a comedian and actress who has had incredible success starring in shows like Parks and Recreation, Kroll Show, and of course, Big Mouth. However, Slate resigned from playing the role of Missy earlier this year amid growing audience frustration over White people playing minorities.
While 38-year-old Slate is Jewish like Missy, she has no Black ancestry. This led to her resignation from her role on Big Mouth, which she wrote about in an Instagram post on June 24, 2020:
I have come to the decision today that I can no longer play the character of “Missy” on the animated TV show “Big Mouth.” At the start of the show, I reasoned with myself that it was permissible for me to play “Missy” because her mom is Jewish and White – as am I. But “Missy” is also Black, and Black characters on an animated show should be played by Black people. I acknowledge how my original reasoning was flawed, that it existed as an example of white privilege and unjust allowances made within a system of societal white supremacy, and that in me playing “Missy,” 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.
As I look back on the nature and emergence of my own voice in comedy, I know that I have made mistakes along the way. I can’t change the past, but I can take accountability for my choices. I will continue to engage in meaningful anti-racist action, to be thoughtful about the messages in my work, to be curious and open to feedback, and to do my best to take responsibility for the ways that I am a part of the problem. Most importantly, though, to anyone that I’ve hurt: I am so very sorry. Black voices must be heard. Black Lives Matter.
Since the recently released fourth season of Big Mouth was in production months ago, Missy’s voice is still that of Slate in most of the series. However, Edebiri can be heard replacing Slate in the second-to-last episode of the most recent season, and will continue to play the role as the fifth season begins production.
Ayo is definitely ready for this huge jump in her career. At only 25, she has already achieved a lot as a comedian:
- A set on Comedy Central’s Up Next
- Star and cowriter of scripted digital series Ayo and Rachel Are Single, which aired on Comedy Central in May of 2020
- Writer for The Rundown with Robin Thede
- Writer for Sunnyside
- Writer for Big Mouth (beginning Season 5)
- Co-producer of Mulligan on Netflix
- Lead voice role in We Lost Our Human on Netflix
- Writing and acting in Dickinson’s on Apple TV+
- Supporting role in the upcoming film adaptation of the Jennifer E. Smith novel Hello, Goodbye and Everything in Between
Scoring the role of Missy and a seat at the writer’s table next to the likes of John Mulaney and Nick Kroll will definitely ensure Ayo Edebiri has an incredible future ahead of her.