Family Guy fans can expect a big change in the show’s upcoming 19th season. Voice actor Mike Henry announced he’ll no longer be playing the role of Cleveland Brown on the long-running animated sitcom.
Henry made the announcement via Twitter, saying, “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 been a mainstay of the series since its debut in 1999, serving as a writer and co-producer as well as voicing several other recurring characters like Herbert and Consuela. Henry also co-created the spinoff series The Cleveland Show, which ran for four seasons from 2009 to 2013.
Fellow Fox series The Simpsons will be undergoing similar changes in the near future. Fox released a statement declaring “Moving forward, The Simpsons will no longer have white actors voice non-white characters.”
Both announcements come as more and more scrutiny is being directed toward animated projects that feature white actors voicing characters of color. Earlier this year, The Simpsons’ Hank Azaria stepped down from his decades-long role as Apu, in response to criticisms raised by Hari Kondabolu’s 2017 documentary The Problem With Apu. Family Guy executive producers Rich Appel and Alex Sulkin also announced in 2019 the series would begin phasing out gay jokes.
It’s unclear when exactly Family Guy’s Cleveland overhaul will take effect or how far along the recasting process is. Given the show’s long production lead time, it’s likely Henry has recorded dialogue for at least some Season 19 episodes. That said, it’s entirely possible those lines will be re-recorded when a new actor is cast.
For more on Family Guy’s long history on the air, check out IGN’s Top 20 Family Guy episodes.
Jesse is a mild-mannered staff writer for IGN. Allow him to lend a machete to your intellectual thicket by following @jschedeen on Twitter.