A few days previously, the show’s creator Raphael Bob-Waksberg had addressed the issue in a long Twitter thread. He noted that Vietnamese-American actor VyVy Nguyen was hired as a consultant for an episode in which Diane goes to Vietnam, but added, “We should have hired a Vietnamese writer, and a Vietnamese actress to play Diane — or if not that, changed the character to match who we did hire.” He also regretted his prior reluctance to face this problem head-on.
Added Bob Waksberg, “Even in the small ways we wrote to Diane’s experience as a woman of color, or more specifically an Asian woman, we rarely got specific enough to think about what it meant to be SPECIFICALLY VIETNAMESE-AMERICAN and that was a huge (racist!) error on my part.”
Bob-Waksberg has spoken about Diane’s casting in the past, not least in a number of interviews he linked to in his thread. In this conversation with Vulture, he explained his choice to hire a white actor as follows: “I allowed myself to believe that the world of animation was a little different than the world of live action. It is in some ways, but that’s not really a good excuse.”
The debate has received new impetus from the renewed focus on racial justice in society, which has already caused several white actors to stop voicing animated characters of color. In the last week, Jenny Slate, Kristen Bell, and Mike Henry have respectively announced that they will no longer play Missy on Big Mouth, Molly on Central Park, and Cleveland Brown on Family Guy. The showrunners of The Simpsons announced that no non-white character would henceforth be voiced by a white person.