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“The Simpsons” has replaced another Hank Azaria role.
Julio, a gay, Cuban character will now be voiced by a gay, Cuban actor: Tony Rodriguez.
Most will know Julio as Marge’s hair stylist and ex-lover of Waylon Smithers in the long-running comedy show, which has recently faced a reckoning over the diversity of its characters.
The re-casting started with Azaria’s Apu, which the white actor agreed perpetuated harmful stereotypes about Indian Americans.
“Tonight I make my debut on The Simpsons as gay, Cuban Julio,” Rodriguez, a longtime performer with the Upright Citizens Brigade, wrote on Instagram last month. “This is a dream come true for me and I was already a living cartoon.”
The comedian made a bid for the role in February on social media.
“In the past two years, I have seen myself more in the show, and by that, I mean specifically the part of Julio, who is gay like me, he’s Cuban like me,” Rodriguez said in an IGTV video
The move comes after months of soul-searching for “The Simpsons” creators and cast following criticism that the character Apu.
In an interview with Dax Shepherd on his podcast “Armchair Expert,” Azaria expressed remorse.
“Part of me feels like I need to go to every single Indian person in this country and personally apologize,” he told Shepherd. “And sometimes I do.”
Azaria has initially been defensive over the part, after Hari Kondabolu, an American comedian of Indian descent, first called-out “The Simpsons” over their insensitve depiction of Indian immigrants in his 2017 documentary “The Problem with Apu.”
Azaria has also since stepped down as the voice of black character Carl Carlson, who will now be played by actor Alex Désert, a prominent voice actor featured in a number of animations including Disney XD’s “Spider-Man: Maximum Venom” and Adult Swim’s “Mr. Pickles.”
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