The Wire star Wendell Pierce has announced that he is starting a public campaign to become the voice of Family Guy character Cleveland Brown.
Mike Henry, a white actor who has voiced the role of the black character since the cartoon’s beginning, announced last week that he would be stepping back from the part, saying “persons of colour should play characters of colour”.
Following on from the news, Pierce tweeted: “Now that Mike Henry has consciously given up the role of Cleveland, I am publicly starting a campaign to voice the role myself on The Cleveland Show. #WendellIsCleveland”.
Now that Mike Henry has consciously given up the role of Cleveland,I am publicly starting a campaign to voice the role myself on The Cleveland Show. #WendellIsCleveland @TheClevelandSho @SethMcFarlane_ pic.twitter.com/Ux3F0uk1p6
— Wendell Pierce (@WendellPierce) June 28, 2020
Henry has voiced Cleveland since Family Guy‘s first-ever episode in 1999, and also played the role in spin-off series The Cleveland Show, which ran between 2009 and 2013.
In his full tweet, he explained: “It’s been an honour to play Cleveland on Family Guy for 20 years. I love this character, but persons of colour should play characters of colour. Therefore, I will be stepping down from the role.”
It comes after fellow animated show The Simpsons announced last week that white actors would no longer voice characters of colour on the series.
Hank Azaria revealed back in January that he would no longer voice Indian-American character Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, who was the subject of a 2017 documentary by comedian Hari Kondabolu that argued the character was an offensive stereotype.
Last week, white actor Jenny Slate confirmed she would no longer play biracial character Missy on Netflix‘s Big Mouth and Kristen Bell quit her role as a mixed race character on Apple TV+’s Central Park.
Meanwhile, white actor Alison Brie has admitted she regrets voicing Vietnamese-American character Diane Nguyen on Netflix show BoJack Horseman.
“I now understand that people of colour, should always voice people of colour,” she said in a statement. “We missed a great opportunity to represent the Vietnamese-American community accurately and respectfully, and for that I am truly sorry. I applaud all those who stepped away from their voiceover roles in recent days. I have learned a lot from them.”
BoJack Horseman’s creator Raphael Bob-Waksberg previously responded to resurfaced concerns about whitewashing on the series.