Mike Henry Leaves Role As Cleveland Brown On ‘Family Guy’ After 20 Years: Persons Of Color Should Play Characters Of Color
“Family Guy” actor Mike Henry, who plays the role of Cleveland Brown on the hit show is stepping down after two decades`. Mike Henry made the announcement on social media and wrote,
“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.”
Mike Henry has voiced the character of Cleveland Brown on Family Guy since the creation of the show in 1999. He also voiced Cleveland on the spinoff “The Cleveland Show” which ran from 2009 to 2013.
He received support and criticism from fans for his decision.
Should've seen it coming. This was on Family Guy not too long ago pic.twitter.com/uuPYlc5wTK
— Peter Griffin Burner (@PeterGriffinAcc) June 26, 2020
I always found it to be quite offending. The cleaveland show was extremely offensive, especially all of the added twang the actors added to the characters voices. They were truly mocking black people.
— Daniel J Owens (@DJO215) June 26, 2020
Hey I (obviously a black man) have enjoyed your performances throughout your 20 years. Voices are voices. There are no colors assigned to them. As a VA your job is to bring your characters to life and you have done that magnificently.
— Ellis Hackett Jr. (@EllisHackettJr) June 26, 2020
— MechaRandom42,That's Queen video slinger to you ? (@RandomMnky) June 26, 2020
James earl jones voiced acted as Darth Vader,yet I don’t remember him being white
— SueMaster? (@euronymous_mars) June 26, 2020
That’s not good enough. Gift all the proceeds you earned to the black community. You must atone for the sin of Playing the voice of a cartoon character that wasn’t the same color as you. Do it now
— ???? (@Rockprincess818) June 26, 2020
Gotta be frank about this. I’m Asian. Did I complain when Phil LaMarr voiced Samurai Jack? No. Because I thought it was cool. Phil LaMarr is cool. Good Lord. pic.twitter.com/9kz6VpoGge
— Kevin Chan (@KevinRoyChan) June 26, 2020
Black guy here, its really not that big of a deal bro. They're fictional characters, black people can voice white characters and vice versa, this is a non issue
— Oakle (@Oakalter) June 26, 2020
Look I'm black and a voice actor and I don't think this is necessary. I appreciate the sentiment behind it but I don't think you should do this. This is your most iconic role! That's the beauty of voice acting, the actor's appearance (including skin color) DOES NOT MATTER.
— Joseph Wilson (@VoicemanWilson) June 26, 2020
How many millions of dollars did you make by committing verbal blackface, Mike? Shouldn't you give all that money plus interest to the black community that you systematically robbed all these years?
— Mark Dice (@MarkDice) June 26, 2020
Mike is not the only white actor to step down from the role of a black character. Earlier this week, “Big Mouth” actress Jenny Slate left her voiceover role. Jenny Slate played Missy on the Netflix show before making the decision to leave the role. She wrote the following on her Instagram page:
She adds that she now recognizes her playing the role was engaging in an act of “erasure of black people.”
“I acknowledge how my original reasoning was flawed, that it existed as an example of what 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. Ending my portrayal of “Missy” is one step in a life long process of uncovering the racism in my actions.”
She closes out her statement saying, that black voices need to be heard.
“As I look back on the nature and emergence of my own voice in comedy, I know that I have made mistakes along the way. I can’t change the past, but I can take accountability for my choices. I will continue to engage in meaningful anti-racist action, to be thoughtful about the messages in my work, to be curious and open to feedback, and to do my best to take responsibility for the ways that I am a part of the problem. Most importantly, though, to anyone that I’ve hurt: I am so very sorry. Black voices must be heard. Black Lives Matter.”
Long-running cartoon ‘The Simpsons” will also be following the lead of “Big Mouth” and “Family Guy.” “The Simpsons” producers have announced they will no longer use white actors to play characters of color on the show. In an announcement the show stated,
“Moving forward, The Simpsons will no longer have White actors voice non-White characters.”
What are your thoughts on Mike Henry leaving the role of Cleveland Brown? Share your thoughts in the comments below.