Kristen Bell Quits Role as Mixed-Race Character on Central Park

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Kristen Bell has announced she is quitting voiceover role of a mixed-race child on the Apple TV+ animated series Central Park.

Bell voiced Molly, an aspiring comic book artist, who is the daughter of a black man (voiced by Leslie Odom Jr) and a white woman (voiced by Kathryn Hahn) on the first season of the series. 

“This is a time to acknowledge our acts of complicity. Here’s one of mine. Playing the Molly [sic] in Central Park shows a lack of awareness of my pervasive privilege," Bell said in a statement.

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"Casting a mixed race character w/a white actress undermines the specificity of the mixed race & Black American experience.”

The show's creative team also released a statement in which they said they wanted to "get representation right."

“Kristen Bell is an extraordinarily talented actress who joined the cast of Central Park from nearly the first day of the show’s development — before there was even a character for her to play — and she has since delivered a funny, heartfelt, and beautiful performance," the statement reads.

"But after reflection, Kristen, along with the entire creative team, recognizes that the casting of the character of Molly is an opportunity to get representation right — to cast a Black or mixed race actress and give Molly a voice that resonates with all of the nuance and experiences of the character as we’ve drawn her."

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"Kristen will continue to be a part of the heart of the show in a new role but we will find a new actress to lend her voice to Molly. We profoundly regret that we might have contributed to anyone’s feeling of exclusion or erasure."

“Black people and people of color have worked and will continue to work on Central Park but we can do better," the statement continued.

“We’re committed to creating opportunities for people of color and Black people in all roles, on all our projects — behind the mic, in the writers room, in production, and in post-production."

"Animation will be stronger for having as many voices, experiences, and perspectives as we can possibly bring into the industry. Our shop and our show will be better for respecting the nuances and complexity around the issue of representation and trying to get it right.”

Kristen Bell Image

Central Park is told through the eyes of a busker named Birdie, the musical series tells the story of the Tillerman-Hunter family who live in Edendale Castle in Central Park.

Patriarch Owen, who is the dorky manager of the park, his wife Paige, who is a journalist constantly stuck with writing fluff pieces and hopes to write a real story, their daughter Molly, who loves drawing comics about herself and a boy she has a crush on, and their son Cole, an emotional young boy who loves animals.

Their lives change when an elderly heiress and entrepreneur named Bitsy Brandenham, and her constantly abused assistant Helen, plot to buy up all the land in Central Park and turn it into more condominiums, shopping stores and restaurants as a way of getting back at the world.

The Tillermans must also deal with their own issues and save the park.

Paul Dailly is the Associate Editor for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.

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