Getty Images, Jim Spellman / Contributor
In a November 10th interview with Romper, Kristen Bell notes that she has "a lot to learn" about her white privilege. After resigning from the cast of Central Park, in which she was casted to voice a biracial character, Bell committed herself to learning about the inherently racist systems we exist in and what "action steps" she can take to make these systems more inclusive.
"I grew up in Detroit. I didn’t consider myself an ounce of a racist," Bell said. "And when I read How to Be an Antiracist, White Fragility — required reading of a citizen of Earth in 2020 — I realized, 'Well, I’ve been a part of these systems.'"
She said that she was unaware of "this whole pot of shit that’s been stirring," and admitted freely, "I have a lot of action steps to take, to fulfill what I think my beliefs are."
During the process of shaping Central Park, the show was sold before the creators (Loren Bouchard, Nora Smith, Josh Gad, and Kristen Bell) even had a plotline in mind. She was cast as Molly before the principals decided the show was going to be about a mixed-race family and that Molly is biracial—“I ended up being the only character who was playing out of race,” Bell said.
"The people who say I could play that role aren’t wrong," Bell told Romper. "But I wanted to step down for two reasons. One, if there was one girl who could have a job who wouldn’t otherwise have a job, because there are not a lot of Black or mixed-race characters on cartoons — if one girl could have that job, I would want her to have it." The role was ultimately given to Emmy Raver-Lampman of The Umbrella Academy.
Bell continued, "Two, if any little girl who is mixed-race or Black looks up who plays that role, I want them to see someone who looks like them."
In her June 2020 statement, announcing her resignation, Bell wrote on Instagram, " I am happy to relinquish this role to someone who can give a much more accurate portrayal and I will commit to learning, growing and doing my part for equality and inclusion."
And of her departure from Central Park, Bell told Romper, "It’s absolutely the right decision, and it went to absolutely the right girl."
Bell, and her fellow actors like Jenny Slate who also stepped down from voicing a Black character in an animated television show, are setting examples for White actors considering taking on a role that could be given to someone who better deserves the opportunity, as well as setting examples for the rest of us to educate ourselves and take "action steps" toward a better future.