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As Hollywood continues to grapple with representation in film and animation, Apple +’s Central Park animated series has finally found someone to voice the biracial character Molly Tillerman. Kristen Bell stepped down from the role during a time that several white actors like Jenny Slate decided to stop voicing characters of color to make room for diverse casting.
After several months searching and many tryouts, Central Park creators have settled on Umbrella Academy and Hamilton actress, Emmy-Raver-Lampman, to take on the role. I personally know Emmy as Allison Hargreeves in Umbrella Academy. I am currently impatiently waiting for Season 2 to drop later this month. Hollywood Reporter speaks with the creators for the show on the process they have gone through to cast Emmy.
Emmy Raver-Lampman (The Umbrella Academy, Hamilton) will take over the role of Molly Tillerman in the show’s second season. The recasting comes a month after the show’s creative team said it would look for a Black or biracial actress to play Molly, amid a continuing reckoning over representation in the industry. Netflix’s Big Mouth will also recast a biracial character previously played by Jenny Slate.
“After an extensive casting process that brought a number of incredible contenders to the forefront of our Molly search, we could not be more thrilled, honored, and certain that we have found the perfect marriage of character to voice in the amazing Emmy Raver-Lampman,” said the creative team from Central Park — Loren Bouchard, Josh Gad, Nora Smith, Halsted Sullivan and Sanjay Shah. “From the moment we heard her Molly, we knew she was the right choice. Her comedic chops, endearing spirit and other-worldly singing prowess have us jumping with joy at the possibilities of this already wonderful character moving forward.
“Our gratitude for and thanks to Kristen Bell and the fantastic work she did in Season 1 can never be overstated. And as we look for new ways to utilize Kristen’s brilliant vocal talents moving forward, we are forever grateful for her support, her camaraderie, and most importantly her beautiful performance as Molly Tillerman in Season 1. We consider ourselves lucky to have both of these women as part of our Central Park family with so many more stories ready to be told.”
When the decision to recast Molly was announced, Bell wrote in an Instagram post that “Playing the character of Molly on Central Park shows a lack of awareness of my pervasive privilege. Casting a mixed-race character with a white actress undermines the specificity of the mixed-race and Black American experience. It was wrong and we, on the Central Park team, are pledging to make it right.”
It is a good thing that many of these actors are beginning to really see the immense privilege that they have. They’re realizing how they have been a part of the systemic problem by doing something as simple as a voicing a person of color on an animated program. It is sad that it has taken this long for them to come to this realization but it is never too late. With that being said, I hope many are actually doing the work and not using this moment to perform solidarity while failing to understand what that takes.
In the meantime, I hope to see more people of color go after the roles that were written about them but not seemingly for them. Hopefully we will begin to see an evening out of sorts in the entertainment world and that these casting decisions will become more inclusive and second nature.
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II HOLY. COW. II ⠀ I cannot express how excited and honored I am to be joining the Central Park family. All the creatives and the amazing Kristen Bell have welcomed me with such open arms, support and endless enthusiasm. My face hurts from smiling so much! ⠀ Representation is vital and broadens our ability to tell stories. I know I have some massive shoes to fill, but I only hope that my lived experience will enrich Molly’s story and make her even more lovable than she already is.