Two of the best known animated primetime shows, Disney-owned Family Guy and The Simpsons, announced major changes Friday on their employment of white actors to portray characters of color on their series.
Mike Henry, an actor who is white and performs the role of Cleveland Brown (pictured top left) on Fox’s Family Guy, said in a tweet this afternoon that he would no longer provide the voice of the character. “It’s been an honor to play Cleveland on Family Guy for 20 years,” Henry wrote. “I love this character, but persons of color should play characters of color. Therefore, I will be stepping down from the role.”
Henry had also voiced the character in its own spin-off series, The Cleveland Show, which ran for four seasons on Fox from 2009 to 2013. In that series, he also voiced Cleveland’s black stepson Rallo Tubbs. The voice actor has not made any indication that he will stop voicing Consuela, the Latina maid who appears on Family Guy, nor have the show’s producers made any comments about what will happen to the other nonwhite characters on the series that are performed by white actors, such as the Japanese reporter Tricia Takanawa played by Alex Borstein.