Bart Simpson has had a revolving door of burnout substitute teachers since the 2013 retirement of the beloved Ms. Krabappel, but now, The Simpsons has finally found an adequate permanent replacement. The sitcom has cast Kerry Washington as Rayshelle Peyton, Bart’s new teacher (via Entertainment Weekly).
Washington’s Ms. Peyton is a kind, competent educator and a complete departure from the jaded Ms. Krabappel (voiced by the late Marcia Wallace). While Ms. Krabappel served as Bart’s foil more than his role model, Ms. Peyton takes a different approach to education — by actually teaching.
“She’s a little too honest, in a very, very sweet, quirky way,” Simpsons co-executive producer Carolyn Omine told EW. “She has a very ambitious project, and she seems like she’s going to be able to at least whip up the other teachers to raise their level a little bit too. She’s inspiring. She can be, as they say, ‘a lot.’ But she’s also fun.”
The move to cast Washington began in 2020. After Simpsons star Hank Azaria announced he would no longer voice characters of color, prompting other voice actors to do the same, Washington tweeted, “Dear animators looking for black voices… I’m avail.” The tweet inspired Omine to finally fill the recurring teacher role, a hole she’d left empty for several years.
Not only was Washington “avail,” but she was also ecstatic to take the job. “I’m just a huge Simpsons fan!” the actress said. “What an extraordinary legacy to be a part of! And I thought the idea of playing Bart’s teacher was so funny. I used to be a teacher in NYC public schools. And my mother is a retired teacher. Teaching is, to me, a sacred profession. I could only imagine the laughs involved in teaching Bart.”
Washington makes her debut as Ms. Peyton in the April 24th episode of The Simpsons, “My Octopus and a Teacher.” While the actress’ busy schedule kept her away from recording more episodes for this season, Omine said fans can expect to see Ms. Peyton more next season — hopefully with the same frequency as Ms. Krabappel.
“Kerry is so busy, but we’re very excited,” Omine said. Lisa’s going to have an opinion, like, ‘Why did Bart get the one good teacher?’ Also, [Rayshelle’s] husband is part of the symphony orchestra, so there’s that connection. We already can see where other little things can happen.”
Dear animators looking for black voices… I’m avail. ????????♀️
— kerry washington (@kerrywashington) June 29, 2020
— Matt Selman (@mattselman) July 20, 2021