“I love this character, but persons of color should play characters of color. Therefore, I will be stepping down from the role,” Henry tweeted Friday.
Mike Henry will no longer voice Family Guy character Cleveland Brown, becoming the latest white actor to step away from playing a character of color on an animated series.
“It’s been an honor to play Cleveland on Family Guy for 20 years,” he announced on Twitter Friday. “I love this character, but persons of color should play characters of color. Therefore, I will be stepping down from the role.”
It’s been an honor to play Cleveland on Family Guy for 20 years. I love this character, but persons of color should play characters of color. Therefore, I will be stepping down from the role. pic.twitter.com/FmKasWITKT— Mike Henry (@mikehenrybro) June 26, 2020
Henry has voiced the character since Family Guy debuted in 1999, and on the spinoff The Cleveland Show, which ran from 2009 to 2013.
Several other actors have announced this week that they will no longer voice Black characters as Black Lives Matter protests continue across the country. Episodes of 30 Rock and Scrubs that showed actors in blackface were pulled from streaming services earlier in the week, and on Wednesday, Jenny Slate announced she would no longer voice a Black character on Big Mouth.
“At the start of the show, I reasoned with myself that it was permissible for me to play ‘Missy’ because her mom is Jewish and White — as am I,” Slate wrote on Instagram. “But ‘Missy’ is also Black, and Black characters on an animated show should be played by Black people.”
Kristen Bell also announced on Wednesday that she would not play a biracial character in the upcoming series Central Park and that the role would be recast.
“Casting a mixed race character with a white actress undermines the specificity of the mixed race and Black American experience,” Bell said. “It was wrong and we, on the Central Park team, are pledging to make it right. I am happy to relinquish this role to someone who can give a much more accurate portrayal and I will commit to learning, growing and doing my part for equality and inclusion.”
The show’s team released a statement saying they regretted casting a white woman in the role and said Bell would continue to play a role on the show, just no longer voicing the character.