Dr. Hibbert had been previously voiced by Harry Shearer since the show’s second season in 1990.
The next episode of The Simpsons will feature a small but noticeable change. On February 28, the show’s character Dr. Hibbert, a Black man, will actually be voiced by a Black voice actor. After 30 years, voice actor Harry Shearer will be replaced by Kevin Michael Richardson. The change comes after sweeping changes to actors for the show’s non-white characters. Fox confirmed that Shearer wouldn’t return to voice Hibbert on Monday.
“Moving forward, The Simpsons will no longer have white actors voice non-white characters,” the show’s creators said in a statement back in June. The move followed the lead started by shows like Netflix original series Big Mouth and Fox’s Family Guy.
Richardson, a Bronx native, has over 500 credits as an actor on IMDb. He’s provided voice acting for shows like Teen Titans Go! and also already played small roles in The Cleveland Show, Family Guy and The Simpsons. He currently plays Principal Brian Lewis on American Dad. Richardson has earned 29 credits for TV series and video game soundtracks.
Back in 2017, comedian Hari Kondabolu criticized the show for its character Apu, an Indian convenience store clerk formerly voiced by Hank Azaria. Shortly afterwards, the character stopped appearing on new episodes. “I think the most important thing is to listen to Indian people and their experience with it,” Azaria told Stephen Colbert.
Kevin Michael Richardson will debut as Dr. Hibbert on Sunday in an episode titled “Wad Goals.”