Family Guy have announced that YouTuber Arif Zahir will voice the role of Cleveland Brown on the show going forward.
Original voice actor Mike Henry stepped-down from the role back in June, saying that while it had been an “honor” to play the character since the show’s inception, “persons of color should play characters of color”.
Zahir, who has done a number of impressions of Cleveland on his YouTube channel, will take on the role from season 19 of the Fox series. Henry will also continue to play other characters such as Bruce and Herbert.
Speaking about joining Family Guy, Zahir said: “Firstly, I’m eternally grateful to have received this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. 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. To Mike, you created something truly special, and I promise I will do my absolute best to honor your legacy. To Rich Appel, Alec Sulkin and Seth MacFarlane, thank you for this incredible gift. And to the millions of fans who love this show, I promise not to let you down.”
“I welcome Arif to the Family Guy team,” Henry added. “Arif’s vocal talent is obvious, but his understanding of Cleveland and his respect for the character give me confidence that he is in the right hands. I look forward to getting to know Arif and working with him to make sure Cleveland stays every bit as awesome as he has always been.”
Meanwhile, Family Guy have also tapped Sam Elliott to take over as Mayor of Quahog following the death of original Mayor Adam West.
The latter, who passed away in 2017, voiced a fictionalisted version of himself for over 100 episodes, and executive producer Richard Appel has explained that Elliott won’t be playing just himself either.
“[Elliott] just felt like he didn’t want to play himself,” he revealed. “Which made us go back thinking, ‘Well, all right, is there someone else?’ And we thought, ‘Wait a minute, that note is a smart note. Because that was more what Adam West was doing.
“And the new mayor shouldn’t be another real-world celebrity playing himself within our fictional world. So we kicked around a bunch of ideas and then said, ‘What if we refashion this as Wild West for Sam Elliott and create this new character?’ And he responded very well to that idea.”