The Simpsons creators previously announced that after pressure from fans, and years of not listening, they'd elected to have non-white characters no longer be voiced by white actors. This was spurned by Hank Azaria's departure from the Apu role which happened a few years ago, something for which he publicly apologized. Last year saw black characters like Carl Carlson and Dr. Hibbert, and the Spanish-speaking Bumblebee Man, be replaced with actors of their own race. Now another casting change has come through with the gay Cuban character, also previously voiced by Azaria, not having a gay Cuban-American actor provide his voice.
News of this comes from Pride.com who reveal that actor Tony Rodriguez took on the role recently, making his debut in a March episode of The Simpsons titled "Uncut Femmes." The change is not only in keeping with the new policy at the FOX series to be more inclusive, but has a unique origin as well. It all began with “Smithers & Beyond: Every LGBTQ Joke On the Simpsons Ever,” a two-and-a-half-hour self explanatory supercut created by Drew Mackie of The Gayest Episode Ever podcast. Series executive producer Matt Selman took to Twitter to confirm that the casting of Rodriguez partially came to pass because of this supercut and the Gayest Episode Ever podcast.
the every gay joke ever on the Simpsons video definitely had a hand in this magic coming together— Matt Selman (@mattselman) March 28, 2021
The changes to the cast for The Simpsons have been applauded by fans and onlookers ever since they started to make them official, back in February voice actor Harry Shearer stepped away from his role as Dr. Hibbert with Kevin Michael Richardson taking on the part from episodes beyond that.
After the changes began The Simpsons’ creator Matt Groening has come out since then and said that he didn’t have a problem with white actors playing non-white characters in the series, telling the BBC: “Times change, but I actually didn’t have a problem with the way we were doing it. All of our actors play dozens of characters each; it was never designed to exclude anyone.”
Last month it was confirmed by FOX and Walt Disney Television that The Simpsons had been renewed for two more seasons, following the batch of episodes that are currently airing. This order will take The Simpsons through the year 2023 with 34 total seasons and 757 total episodes.
“Everyone at The Simpsons is thrilled to be renewed once more, and we are planning lots of big surprises. Homer will lose a hair, Milhouse will get contact lenses, and Bart will celebrate his tenth birthday for the thirty-third time," Simpsons creator and executive producer Matt Groening said in a statement at the time.
The Simpsons airs Sundays at 8 PM ET on FOX.