‘Big Mouth’: Ayo Edebiri to replace Jenny Slate as Missy in season 4

Two months after Jenny Slate announced that she would no longer be speaking the character of Missy in “Big Mouth,” Netflix’s puberty animated comedy found its replacement: writer, producer, comedian and actor Ayo Edebiri.

“I was definitely a very uncomfortable kid so I think the show is about that and a lot of those feelings, which still resonate with me as an adult,” Edebiri says. Variety. “I’m back home to my childhood bedroom right now and on my bookshelf between ‘A Series of Unfortunate Events’ is the autobiography of Bill Clinton and the autobiography of Nelson Mandela and a translation of’ The Iliad ”in Latin. I was a real jerk. So I don’t think I have to go too far to connect with Missy.

While Slate will continue to voice Missy for the majority of Season 4 (whose premiere date has yet to be announced), Edebiri will take on the role in the penultimate episode. She booked the role just a few weeks ago and has already recorded her dialogue for season 4. She also joined the show’s writers room for the fifth season – a job she actually booked and has. started working first, given the timing of breakup stories and script writing.

“As a writer my goal is never to understand, ‘Oh, let’s do this series myself.’ When I write I’m in the service of my boss’s vision and I want to be helpful in any way I can and lend my ideas and jokes and whatever they need for that, ”Edebiri says. But she admits “because I had the experience of being in the room and knowing the history, I think it helped with the comfort level” upon entering the recording booth, especially on such an accelerated timeline.

Originally, co-creator Andrew Goldberg tells Variety, Slate would go on to voice Missy throughout the fourth season. “By the time we made the decision to launch Ayo, we had finished all of Season 4 and delivered it to Netflix,” he shares. With the production deadline on the animation, the team didn’t think they could replace Missy’s entire dialogue season – nor did they want “Ayo to have to start her journey with this part by matching what Jenny. has already done, ”he continues. “It’s not a way for her to make it her own.

Goldberg credits co-creator Jennifer Flackett for finding a moment in the season’s penultimate episode that felt like “a really organic and cool place” to bring Edebiri earlier than expected.

“It’s about Missy’s continuing evolution as a person – that she has all of these different parts of who she is. There is the Missy touch and the more sexually adventurous Missy, the Missy mirror, and then also this Missy that she discovers [in Season 4] spending time with his cousins ​​and taking a look at his black identity, ”says co-creator Nick Kroll of the moment.

Once they found that moment, it was a matter of making sure the transition “wouldn’t be a surprising change for viewers of the show,” he explains.

“The transition is a nice farewell to Jenny at this point too, in a way,” Edebiri adds, noting that she wanted to “pay homage” to the previous performance “while also bringing something new. that I found is also due to Jenny’s work.

Since Edebiri first joined the “Big Mouth” writers’ room, she already understood the character’s sensibility and the overall tone of the story before she was chosen. But just because the “Big Mouth” crew already knew that Edebiri didn’t need to audition. Slate, who had voiced Missy since the show’s inception in 2017, announced on Instagram in June that she would be stepping down from the role of the show because “black characters in an animated show should be played by black people.” ” At that time, the show’s co-creators also released a statement on social media in which they apologized and expressed regret for choosing a white actor to voice a biracial character and said that they were eager to continue the character growth once recast. Since this announcement came so publicly, and before they even discussed the possibility of casting someone new, the team were able to cast a wider net when looking for the new Missy than usual.

“We’ve had a lot of people submitting from Twitter and Instagram and we’ve brought in a lot of those people,” says Kroll. “We let people self-register and submit – and a few of those people made it to the final really short list of people we considered hiring.”

Edebiri shares that she recorded a “range” of takes on Missy for her initial audition, then ended up having several callbacks and a few sessions with the producers where she tested the dialogue and sounds more. Ultimately, Goldberg says what sets her apart is that she “brings so much of herself to the role.”

Most recently, Edebiri was a writer on “Sunnyside” on NBC. A stand-up actress, she also co-hosts “Iconography”, a podcast, for Forever Dog. Her other upcoming screen credits include the co-production of “Mulligan,” Robert Carlock and Tina Fey’s upcoming animated series for Netflix; voicing the lead role in the upcoming animated series “We Lost Our Human” for Netflix; and writing and starring in the second season of “Dickinson” for Apple TV Plus. (For the latter, the role of Hattie was written for her after joining the writers’ room.) She is performed by Odenkirk Provissiero Ent., CAA and Del Shaw Moonves.

“My parents are both people who couldn’t really do what they loved to do; they just worked jobs. And they were like, “If you want to go, go. So here I go! Edebiri said.

Now, Kroll says, having a black actor portray Missy in “Big Mouth” will allow the series to “tell more nuanced stories about who Missy is.” Although he admits that when they first created the character, “OK, that’s a silly girl who just happens to be black,” the conversation has changed over the years and the writers’ room has encouraged more. an exploration of Missy’s Blackness.

“It allows us to talk about the growth of that particular character in a way that we hope to talk about the growth of all of our characters,” says Kroll. “This change of actor is a heightened version of that, but a good example of how our characters are constantly evolving.”

For Edebiri, that comes with the responsibility of telling “stories that you can traditionally consider not to be funny” in a fun way. “There are lessons to be learned [from the show] and it’s growing pains – like in the show, ”she said. “For me, it’s nothing but exciting. As a show, as a venue and as a moment, it feels like it’s happening, and I hope it’s here to stay.

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