Kerry Washington is heading to Springfield. The Scandal and Little Fires Everywhere star will voice Bart’s (Nancy Cartwright) new fourth-grade teacher Rayshelle Peyton on The Simpsons, replacing the late Mrs. Krabappel. (Emmy winner Marcia Wallace, who voiced the gruff and grumpy Springfield Elementary School teacher for 174 episodes, died in 2013 at age 70.) After nearly a decade of guest-starring substitute teachers, Bart will have a permanent teacher when Ms. Peyton’s class starts in “My Octopus and a Teacher,” the April 24 episode of The Simpsons‘ 33rd season.
In the episode, Bart can’t control his feelings when he gets a new teacher while Lisa (Yeardley Smith) befriends an octopus. Bart has “complicated feelings” for Ms. Peyton, writer and co-executive producer Carolyn Omine told EW of Bart’s new teacher. “She’s really good at figuring out what the kids need, but she can’t really figure out what his problem is until he finally comes clean.”
Bart has never had a teacher like her.
Ms. Peyton is “a great teacher,” Washington said. “But like all the best teachers, she knows that her students have just as much to teach her as she has to teach them. And teaching Bart is a job filled with growth opportunities.”
After bringing in guest stars like Spider-Man star Willem Dafoe and Modern Family star Sofia Vergara to teach Bart’s class, it was time for The Simpsons to permanently replace Mrs. Krabappel.
“I don’t know why we’ve been putting it off,” Omine said. “I do miss our dear Marcia, and I think there was a little sadness and reluctance to do it, but it’s been nine years. We would have a conversation at least once a year, maybe every other year. We couldn’t really decide, and we couldn’t really agree. There just wasn’t the inspired thought — until we came upon this.”
Washington describes herself as “a huge Simpsons fan” and accepted the role after tweeting in 2020, “Dear animators looking for black voices… I’m [available].” When co-showrunner Matt Selman tweeted at Washington with an offer to guest star on The Simpsons, Omine thought to cast her as Bart’s new teacher.
“What an extraordinary legacy to be a part of! And I thought the idea of playing Bart’s teacher was so funny,” Washington told EW. “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.”
“My Octopus and a Teacher” airs Sunday, April 24 at 8:00-8:30 PM ET/PT on FOX.