Family Guy Casts YouTuber Ari Zahir as New Voice of Cleveland Brown

Family Guy has officially cast a new Cleveland Brown after Mike Henry, a white man, announced he would be stepping down from the role because "persons of color should play characters of color."

The animated sitcom announced on Twitter Friday that YouTuber Arif Zahir, who is Black, will now voice Cleveland in season 19.

"We have found our new Cleveland! Excited to have you join the fam, @Azerrz," the series tweeted alongside a split photo of Zahir and Cleveland.

Of the news, Zahir, 26, said in a statement: "To Mike Henry, 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 own."

The upcoming season will premiere next year; episodes are now in production, Variety reported. Earlier this month, Deadline reported that Family Guy has been picked up for seasons 19 and 20.

In June, Henry, 54, wrote on Twitter that he was saying goodbye to the role after two decades.

"It's been an honor to play Cleveland on Family Guy for 20 years," Henry began. "I love this character, but persons of color should play characters of color. Therefore, I will be stepping down from the role."

RELATED: Family Guy's Mike Henry Says He'll No Longer Voice Cleveland Brown Character


Shortly after Henry's announcement, Zahir tweeted that he would "volunteer as tribute" to fill the role.

He also shared a video of himself doing his own impression of Cleveland.

"I wonder who could do the job. I seriously have zero idea," Zahir said in the clip, using his Cleveland voice.

Zahir has shared a plethora of impression videos of Cleveland on his YouTube channel. The star has over 6 million subscribers.

The recast comes after animated series Big Mouth announced Jenny Slate's Missy would be recast with a Black or mixed race actor in June. Writer-comedian Ayo Edebiri will take over as the voice of Missy beginning with the penultimate episode of season 4, which is slated to premiere on Netflix this fall.

Slate, 38, revealed the news on Instagram, explaining that she, a White woman, "can no longer" play the role of Missy, a biracial character on the Netflix series created by Nick Kroll.

"I have come to the decision today that I can no longer play the character of 'Missy' on the animated TV show Big Mouth. At the start of the show, I reasoned with myself that it was permissible for me to play 'Missy' because her mom is Jewish and White — as am I. But 'Missy' is also Black, and Black characters on an animated show should be played by Black people," Slate wrote on Instagram.

Kroll, 42, also announced Slate's decision on Twitter, writing: "After thoughtful discussion with us and our Black collaborators, Jenny Slate has decided, and we wholeheartedly agree, that Missy on Big Mouth should be voiced by a Black actor."

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