(LOS ANGELES) — Voice actor Harry Shearer is stepping down from voicing Dr. Julius Hibbert on The Simpsons as the longtime animated show faces increasing calls to diversify its cast.
The Hollywood Reporter says Kevin Michael Richardson will take over for Shearer, starting with the February 28 episode “Wad Goals.”
The final episode featuring Shearer’s voice aired on Sunday.
Aside from voicing Dr. Hibbert, Shearer will remain on the show bringing life to other beloved characters characters, such as Ned Flanders and Principal Skinner. The voice actor has been a part of the show since 1989, first appearing in the episode “Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire.”
Simpsons producers confirmed over the summer that the show will no longer have white actors voicing characters of color.
Prior to the announcement about Shearer, Hank Azaria stepped down from playing Homer’s work friend, Carl Carlson and Kwik-E-Mart owner Apu.
The animation industry as a whole has been making strides towards hiring nonwhite actors to play nonwhite characters. Previously, shows like Big Mouth and Central Park also made changes to their casting under similar circumstances.
By Megan Stone
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