“It’s been an honor to play Cleveland on Family Guy for 20 years,” Henry, 54, wrote on Twitter.
He continued: “I love this character, but persons of color should play characters of color. Therefore, I will be stepping down from the role.”
Henry, who is a white man, has voiced the character since the series debuted in 1999. He has also been the voice behind a Latin maid named Consuela on the series.
FOX had no comment when reached by Fox News. Earlier on Friday, the network revealed that it will no longer have white actors voice characters of color on “The Simpsons.”
“Moving forward, The Simpsons will no longer have white actors voice non-white actors,” the network said in a statement.
FILE – In this Sept. 23, 2010 file photo, actor and show co-creator Mike Henry appears with signage for his animated series ‘The Cleveland Show’ at a panel discussion at The Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills, Calif.
(AP Photo/Dan Steinberg, File)
In 2018 at Comic-Con, Henry spoke to Fox News about voicing Cleveland. “People are usually surprised,” he explained of peoples’ reactions at the time. “They usually go, ‘I didn’t know he was going to look like that.'”
Henry went on to say that “it wasn’t like I was cast as Cleveland, I created Cleveland.”
“You know, Cleveland is largely some weird part of me and I’ve been able to do it for [almost] 20 years now, and I think what you’re getting at is, ‘Does anyone get upset about it?’ Rarely,” Henry said in 2018. “I mean, sometimes now with the climate out there of everything is very PC [politically correct], all I can say to that is I know where I’m coming from.”
“And on ‘The Cleveland Show’ if there was a joke I wasn’t sure about, I would defer to Sanaa [Lathan] or some of the other writers in the room who walk the walk and live the life because I don’t. And I’d say, ‘Can we do this? What’s up? You guys do this and tell me what I can do. I’m coming from a good place and I hope people aren’t upset,'” he said at the time.
Alex Borstein, who voices Lois Griffin, told Fox News at the time: “I just feel like you can feel when something is done from a place of love. From creating a person. Like, he’s not doing a voice — I feel like he’s making Cleveland.”
Henry’s decision comes after voice actors Jenny Slate and Kristen Bell — who are white — recently pulled out of their respective roles to recast their biracial characters with someone of color. Slate, 38, played the mixed-race Missy on Netflix’s “Big Mouth” and Bell, 39, voiced a biracial character named Molly on Apple TV Plus’s “Central Park.”
Slate said she initially reasoned that she could play her character because Molly’s mother is Jewish and white, just like her mom. But now, she understands that her initial thoughts were wrong.
In this image released by Fox, animated characters, from left, Peter Griffin, Glenn Quagmire, both voiced by Seth MacFarlane, Cleveland Brown, voiced by Mike Henry and Joe Swanson, voiced by Patrick Warburton from the series ‘Family Guy.’
(Fox via AP)
“I acknowledge how my original reasoning was flawed,” Slate said. “That it existed as an example of white privilege and unjust allowances made within a system of societal white supremacy, and that in me playing Missy, I was engaging in an act of erasure of Black people.”
For Bell’s part, the announcement was made by a handful of the show’s producers, which stated that “casting of the character of Molly is an opportunity to get representation right — to cast a Black or mixed-race actress and give Molly a voice that resonates with all of the nuance and experiences of the character as we’ve drawn her.”
Bell also shared the statement online, adding one of her own.
“This is a time to acknowledge our acts of complicity. Here’s 1 of mine. Playing the Molly in ‘Central Park’ shows a lack of awareness of my pervasive privilege. Casting a mixed-race character w/a [sic] white actress undermines the specificity of the mixed-race & Black American experience,” she said.
“The Good Place” star went on to explain that she’s “happy to relinquish the role” and pledging to “commit to learning, growing and doing my part for equality and inclusion.”
Fox News’ Nate Day and The Associated Press contributed to this report