Two animated shows announced Friday evening they will stop using white voice actors to portray non-white characters.
The producers of "The Simpsons" confirmed to NBC that the sitcom "will no longer have white actors voice non-white characters," soon after "Family Guy" star Mike Henry tweeted he will no longer play the character of Cleveland Brown.
“It’s been an honor to play Cleveland on 'Family Guy' for 20 years,” he wrote on Twitter. “I love this character, but persons of color should play characters of color. Therefore, I will be stepping down from the role.”
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. pic.twitter.com/FmKasWITKT— Mike Henry (@mikehenrybro) June 26, 2020
One of Peter Griffin's best friends, Brown has been a consistent presence on "Family Guy" since it began in 1999. The character even had his own spin-off series, "The Cleveland Show," that aired on FOX from 2009 to 2013. The 54-year-old actor voices a number of other characters on "Family Guy," including Herbert, Bruce and Consuela, a Latina maid.
In recent years, critics have called on "The Simpsons" to stop using Hank Azaria, a white actor, to play Apu — an Indian American character who runs Kwik-E-Mart, the convenience store. Earlier this year, Azaria confirmed to the New York Times he would cease voicing the character.
The dual announcements come on the heels as other white actors have stepped down from voicing minority characters. On Wednesday, Kristen Bell and Jenny Slate separately announced that they would no longer be voicing biracial cartoon characters, acknowledging white privilege had allowed them to take such roles.