Hank Azaria said he feels like he needs to “personally apologise” to “every single Indian” in the USA for playing the character of “Apu” in “The Simpsons”.
Azaria was a voice actor in “The Simpsons” since 1990, playing the wildly popular character of convenience store owner “Apu Nahasapeemapetilon”.
The actor recently told Dax Shepherd’s Armchair Expert podcast that “part of me feels like I need to go around to every single Indian person in this country and personally apologise” for allegedly reinforcing racial stereotypes.
— Armchair Expert Podcast (@ArmchairExpPod) April 12, 2021
Azaria shared how, after criticism of his role from a leading Indian-American comedian in 2017, he spent the next year “doing the work” going to seminars and speaking to people “who know a lot about racism”, to “lots of Indian people.”
“I realised I have had a date with destiny with this thing for 31 years,” he said.
He also apologised to Indian-American podcast co-host Monica Padman, saying “The Simpsons” cartoon was part of “structural racism” by airing the character.
“I really didn’t know any better. I didn’t think about it. I was unaware how much relative advantage I had received in this country as a white kid from Queens.
“Just because there were good intentions it doesn’t mean there weren’t real negative consequences to the thing that I am accountable for.
“I really do apologise. I know you (Padman) weren’t asking for that but it’s important. I apologise for my part in creating that and participating in that. Part of me feels I need to go round to every single Indian person in this country and apologise.”
The character of Apu has been suspended from the show until another voiceover actor is found to play the role.
“Bigotry and racism are still an incredible problem and it’s good to finally go for more equality and representation,” “The Simpsons” creator Matt Groening told the BBC in February.
“The first argument is, if it’s an Indian character, Latin character or Black character, please let’s have that person (from that background) voice the character.
“It’s more authentic, they might also bring their experience of their culture to it – and let’s not take away jobs from people who don’t have enough.”