Family Guy’s Mike Henry retires as voice of Cleveland Brown

Family Guy actor Mike Henry is stepping down from voicing the African-American character of Cleveland Brown to make way for a person of colour.

Henry, who is white, originated the role back when the hit cartoon debuted in 1999, and also brought Brown to life on the spin-off series, The Cleveland Show, which ended after a four-season run in 2013.

However, Henry has since announced he will no longer voice the part of Brown in the long-running Seth MacFarlane sitcom.

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“It’s been an honor to play Cleveland on Family Guy for 20 years,” he wrote in a Twitter post on Friday. “I love this character, but persons of color should play characters of color. Therefore, I will be stepping down from the role.”

The news emerged shortly before bosses on The Simpsons declared they will stop hiring white actors to voice characters of colour on their iconic cartoon.

“Moving forward, The Simpsons will no longer have white actors voice nonwhite characters,” TV officials shared in a statement on Friday.

They had previously faced backlash over Hank Azaria’s portrayal of Indian-American store owner Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, prompting the white actor to quit the role in January and express remorse over the character’s over-the-top accent and exaggerated mannerisms.

The casting changes come amid a renewed push to end racism in Hollywood, after the latest Black Lives Matter protests, with animation executives reviewing how their characters of colour are portrayed both in front of, and behind the camera.

Similar decisions were made by actresses Jenny Slate and Kristen Bell earlier this week, as they both withdrew from playing mixed race characters on their respective series, Big Mouth and Central Park.

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