Voice actor Mike Henry is stepping down from his role as the black character Cleveland Brown on Fox’s popular animated show Family Guy.
“It’s been an honor to play Cleveland on Family Guy for 20 years,” tweeted Henry on 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, who is white, has played the voice of the black character since 1999 — back when syrup didn’t need trigger warning, and woke mobs weren’t hyper-focus on censoring movies from 1940. Society, however, appears to have changed. The announcement of the voice actor stepping down from his role as Cleveland Brown arrives on the heels of a similar announcement involving Kristen Bell’s role as the voice of Molly, a black character on the animated show Central Park.
On Wednesday the show’s co-creator Josh Gad announced that Bell would be replaced by a black or mixed-race actress for the role of Molly. “We’re so excited to move forward,” Gad said in an interview with NBC’s Today. “It was frankly an easy decision to make.”
Actress Jenny Slate has also recently announced that she will be relinquishing her role as the voice of the bi-racial character Missy on Netflix’s animated series Big Mouth, apologizing for her “white privilege” and claiming that she has benefited from a “system of societal white supremacy.”
“I acknowledge how my original reasoning was flawed, that it existed as an example of white privilege and unjust allowances made within a societal system of white supremacy,” Slate said in an Instagram post this week. “In me playing ‘Missy,’ I was engaging in an act of erasure of Black people.”