White Family Guy actor Mike Henry quits as voice of black character Cleveland Brown after 20 years
The latest headlines in your inbox twice a day Monday – Friday plus breaking news updates
Family Guy actor Mike Henry, who has voiced the character of Cleveland Brown for two decades on the Fox animated series, said he is stepping down from the role.
In a statement on Twitter, the actor said the role should go to a “person of colour”, adding that “it’s been an honour to play Cleveland for 20 years.”
The 54-year-old said: “I love this character, but persons of colour should play characters of colour. Therefore I will be stepping down from the role.”
Alongside voicing the character since the series debuted in 1999, Mr Henry has also been the voice behind a Latin maid named Consuela.
Actor and show co-creator Mike Henry appears with signage for his animated series “The Cleveland Show” – a spin-off from “Family Guy” (AP Photo/Dan Steinberg)
In the first seven seasons of Family Guy, Cleveland was a recurring character, and as one of Peter Griffin’s neighbours and friends, is one of the few recurring African American characters on the show.
Cleveland frequently appeared alongside his wife Loretta, voiced by Alex Borstein, in the earlier seasons of the popular cartoon, until their divorce which took place in season four.
Mr Henry also played Cleveland in the spin-off series The Cleveland Show”, which centred on Cleveland and his family’s move from Rhode Island to Virginia.
His decision coincides with several other white actors declaring they will no longer voice black characters in a number of animated series.
The Simpsons, which has been on the air since 1989, had previously faced criticism for having Hank Azaria, who is white, voicing Indian shopkeeper Apu.
Earlier this year, Azaria said he would no longer voice the character Apu on The Simpsons because “it didn’t feel right”.
Amid growing pressure on the entertainment industry to provide more opportunities for diverse performers, network Fox has aso said The Simpsons will no longer feature white actors voicing characters of colour.
Actor who is voice of The Simpsons’ Apu is prepared to step down
Additionally, Jenny Slate, who plays the mixed-race Missy on Netflix’s Big Mouth, and Kristen Bell, who plays biracial Molly on Apple TV Plus’ Central Park, have withdrawn from playing their roles.
In a statement on Instagram, Ms Bell said her playing Molly, a mixed-race character, “shows a lack of awareness of my pervasive privilege”, whilst Ms Slate said her taking the role was “engaging in an act of erasure of Black people”.