‘Family Guy’ actor Mike Henry steps down from Cleveland role: “Persons of color should play characters of color”

This week has seen a number of animated shows address white actors playing people of colour

Mike Henry, a white actor who has voiced black character Cleveland Brown on Family Guy for over two decades, has stepped down from the role.

Henry has appeared as Brown since the show’s very first episode broadcast in 1999, and starred in spin-off series The Cleveland Show which ran for four seasons between 2009 and 2013.

In a tweet, Henry said: “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.”

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Henry’s decision comes after producers of The Simpsons announced yesterday that they will no longer be using white actors to portray people of colour on the show.

In January actor Hank Azaria announced that he would no longer be voicing the Indian-American character Apu Nahasapeemapetilon. The character was the subject of a 2017 documentary by comedian Hari Kondabolu, who argued that the character is an offensive stereotype.

Earlier this week, meanwhile, white actor Jenny Slate announced that she would no longer be playing biracial character Missy in the Netflix series Big Mouth. Shortly afterwards, Kristen Bell left her role as a mixed race character on new Apple TV+ animated show Central Park.

The creator of animated series BoJack Horseman Raphael Bob-Waksberg also recently responded to resurfaced concerns of whitewashing on the show. White actor Alison Brie portrayed Vietnamese-American character Diane Nguyen on the series.

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Meanwhile, Family Guy producers announced last year that they will be “phasing out” jokes about the LGBTQ+ community.

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