Metro Weekly

The Simpsons recasts gay Cuban character with gay voice actor

Tony Rodriguez will voice Julio, who was previously voiced by white heterosexual actor Hank Azaria

Waylon Smithers, Julio, Tony Rodriguez, The Simpsons, gay
Waylon Smithers and Julio in The Simpsons — Photo: Fox

Long-running animated sitcom The Simpsons has recast gay Cuban character Julio, replacing white heterosexual voice actor Hank Azaria with gay Cuban-American actor Tony Rodriguez.

Julio first appeared in the 14th season of The Simpsons and has since featured in 30 episodes, with a variety of roles including Marge’s hairdresser and a love interest for Waylon Smithers — who came out as gay in 2016.

Rodriguez made his first appearance as Julio’s voice actor in the March 2021 episode “Uncut Femmes.”

Before Rodriguez took over the role, Julio was briefly voiced by actor and singer Mario Jose in the February 2021 episode “Dairy Queen,” reports.

Julio’s recasting comes after a recent lengthy supercut video, “Every LGBT Joke On The Simpsons Ever,” created by Drew Mackie and Glen Lakin of the Gayest Episode Ever podcast.

Matt Selman, an executive producer on The Simpsons, acknowledged the impact the video had behind the scenes of the show.

He responded to the Gayest Episode Ever Twitter account, which celebrated Rodriguez’s first appearance as Julio, noting, “The every gay joke ever on the Simpsons video definitely had a hand in this magic coming together.”

Rodriguez appeared on Gayest Episode Ever to explain explain the role the video played in his casting.

“Matt Selman had seen the supercut, heard the podcast and heard you say my name,” he said. “By that point, my video was out, and he asked the other writers of the show: ‘Does anyone know who Tony Rodriguez is?’”

He added: “We didn’t know they were actively looking to recast, and we didn’t know they had been looking for weeks. Thank god you put [the supercut] out there when you did!”

Ahead of his first episode’s airing, Rodriguez celebrated his casting on social media.

“Tonight I make my debut on The Simpsons as gay, Cuban Julio,” he wrote. “This is a dream come true for me and I was already a living cartoon.”

Julio’s recasting marks one of several recent steps taken by The Simpsons to have long-running characters formerly voiced by white actors instead voiced with more authentic representation.

Hank Azaria recently acknowledged the criticism he’d received for voicing Indian character Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, as well as other characters of color including Carl Carlson and Bumblebee Man.

Azaria said he spoke to “people who knew a lot about racism, spoke to lots of Indian people and went to seminars” and understood that his voicing of Apu contributed to “structural racism.”

“I really didn’t know any better. I didn’t think about it,” he said of his original casting. “I was unaware of 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.”

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