'The Simpsons' has been under fire recently for their depiction of Kwik-E-Mart employee Apu Nahasapeemapetilon - a caricature of Indian-Americans voiced by white actor Hank Azaria. After the show's controversial attempt to address the issue failed to win over critics like Hari Kondabolu (who made a documentary criticizing 'The Simpsons' over the character), Azaria is now speaking out about what he thinks should happen with Apu.
"I am perfectly happy and willing to step aside or help transition [the character] into something new," Azaria told Stephen Colbert yesterday on 'The Late Show.' "I really hope that's what 'The Simpsons' does. It not only makes sense, but it just seems like the right thing to do to me."
But even if he continues to portray the character, he wants more input from the community that Apu represents.
"I think the most important thing is we have to listen to South Asian people - Indian people in this country when they talk about how they feel and what they think about this character and what their American experience of it has been," Azaria added. "Listening to voices means inclusion in the writers' room. I really want to see Indian writers in the room - not in a token way but genuinely informing whatever direction this character may take. Including how it is voiced or not voiced."
He also apologized to everyone who's been hurt by the portrayal of the character.
"The idea that anybody - young or old, past or present - was bullied or teased based on the character of Apu, it just really makes me sad. It certainly wasn't my intention. I wanted to spread laughter and joy with this character. And the idea that it's brought pain and suffering in any way - that it was used to marginalize people, it's upsetting - genuinely."
Check out the full discussion in the clip below.