Kevin Michael Richardson will be taking over the voice role of Dr. Hibbert on “The Simpsons,” replacing Harry Shearer, who portrayed the Black character since 1990.
Shearer voiced Dr. Hibbert on Sunday’s episode of “The Simpsons,” titled “DiaryQueen,” for the final time. Next week’s episode “Wad Goals” will feature Kevin Michael Richardson in the role, a representative for 20th Television confirmed to Variety.
The recasting comes after “Simpsons” producers said in June 2020 that white actors will no longer play non-white characters. Prior to that, Hank Azaria voiced the Indian character Apu Nahasapeemapetilon for years, drawing backlash among fans and the South Asian community. Azaria stepped down from the role in January 2020, and he was also replaced by Black voice actor Alex Désert as Carl Carlson in a fall 2020 episode.
During the Black Lives Matter protests of 2020, several other animated shows recast characters of color who had previously been voiced by white actors. YouTube star Arif Zahir took over the role of Cleveland Brown from Mike Henry on “Family Guy,” Ayo Edebiri replaced Jenny Slate as the voice of Missy on Netflix’s “Big Mouth,” and Apple TV Plus brought on Emmy Raver-Lampman to voice Molly Tillerman on “Central Park,” who was previously voiced by Kristen Bell.
Richardson has worked on “The Simpsons” since 2009, providing the voices for many characters. He’s also worked on animated shows like “Family Guy,” “The Cleveland Show,” “American Dad” and many others. He’s won two Daytime Emmy nominations for voicing the villain Joker in the animated series “The Batman” in the mid-2000s from Warner Bros. Animation.
On “The Simpsons,” Shearer has voiced Mr. Burns, Ned Flanders, Mr. Smithers, Principal Skinner and more since the show debuted in 1989.