YouTuber Arif Zahir will take over for voice actor Mike Henry, who left the role this year after saying that “persons of color should play characters of color.”
“Family Guy” says actor Arif Zahir will take over the voice of Cleveland Brown in the Fox animated series.
The announcement comes nearly three months after voice actor Mike Henry, who is white, announced he would stop portraying the show’s main African American character because “persons of color should play characters of color.”
Zahir, who is Black, is a YouTuber with more than 6 million subscribers. The actor is known for his impressions of Cleveland Brown.
Earlier this week, “Family Guy” was renewed for two more seasons. Zahir will begin voicing the character during the show’s 19th season, which just started production.
“Firstly, I’m eternally grateful to have received this once in a lifetime opportunity,” Zahir said in a statement he tweeted out. “When I heard that Mike Henry was stepping down from the role of Cleveland Brown- my favorite cartoon character of all time- I was shocked and saddened, assuming we’d never see him again. When I learned I would get to take over the role? Overabundant gratitude.”
Even though Henry, who voiced the character since the series’ debut in 1999, will no longer voice Brown, Henry will remain a voice performer on the show, according to The Wrap.
Henry’s decisions came after voice actors Jenny Slate and Kristen Bell — who are also white — pulled out of their roles in other shows to recast their biracial characters with someone of color. Slate played the mixed-raced Missy on Netflix’s “Big Mouth” and Bell voiced Molly on Apple TV Plus’s “Central Park.”
Zahir volunteered for the role, while offering an impression of Brown, when Henry announced his departure from the role.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.