Who is the new voice actor playing Missy in Big Mouth and why did Jenny Slate leave?
The replacement is addressed in Big Mouth season four
Everyone’s favourite nerdy, nasal, worm-humping cartoon character Missy from Big Mouth is being voiced by another actor this season and it’s raising a lot of questions. Firstly, when does her new voice come in? At the start of the season, she sounds exactly the same, but that’s because her new voice actor only starts mid-season. And why was Jenny Slate replaced again? It feels like such a pitifully long time since we were last gifted with a Big Mouth series, you’d be forgiven for forgetting.
Let me break it down for you real quick: Here’s who the Missy Big Mouth new voice actor is, why she was replaced and what influenced the decision to address it within the show.
Who voices Missy on Big Mouth now, and who did before?
Missy’s original voice actor was Jenny Slate, who’s best known as Jean Ralphio’s sister in Parks and Recreation (don’t be suspicious, don’t be suspicious-picious) or for movies such as Gifted, The Secret Life of Pets, Venom and Zootropolis. So she has a lot of voice acting under her belt as well as Big Mouth.
But Jenny is being replaced this season with American comedian Ayo Edebiri. The 25-year-old doesn’t have as much in the way of voice acting credits (yet) but she’s been big on Comedy Central’s “Up Next” and she’s making waves in the comedy world. Edebiri was picked after the decision was made to replace Slate, with creator Nick Kroll saying: “We brought in a few of them, but we loved Ayo. She really was Missy.”
Why did Missy’s voice change and why was Jenny Slate replaced?
Missy’s voice changes in season four of Big Mouth because, behind the scenes, Jenny Slate and creator Nick Kroll decided it was wrong for a black character to be voiced by a white actress. This all came to head in light of the Black Lives Matter movement in the summer, where many animated TV shows were held to account for letting white people voice black characters, and shows were made to remove scenes featuring characters doing blackface. Allowing white actors to voice black characters was dubbed as “the new blackface” and even coined its own term: “blackvoicing“.
Jenny Slate said of the decision, “At the start of the show, I reasoned with myself that it was permissible for me to play Missy because her mom is Jewish and White — as am I. But Missy is also Black, and Black characters on an animated show should be played by Black people.”
What led to the decision to change Missy’s voice midway through season four?
Missy’s voice is actually the same at the start of season four, as she’s still being voiced by Jenny Slate. Nick Kroll said this was borne out of a decision to deal with the voice change within the storyline, instead of just replacing Jenny Slate outright in this season. In fact, Ayo Edebiri was only set to step into the role for season five but Big Mouth creators felt it should happen earlier.
Nick Kroll said: “The switch happens when Missy has come to terms with who she is.” Specifically, when she comes to terms with her own racial identity. This was also based on a practical struggle and respect for Edebiri because Jenny Slate had already recorded the majority of her dialogue for season four.
“We were trying to figure out how to, in the middle of a pandemic, rerecord an entire season with a new actor,” Kroll said in an interview with Vulture. “Which also felt like a disservice to Ayo to then have to come in and basically have to match everything that we already had recorded with Jenny.”
Edebiri has also commented on the voice change, saying: “Jenny and I have pretty similar speaking voices and inflections. I don’t know if that’s because we’re both anxious women from Massachusetts.”