Mike Henry, an American voice actor, decided to withdraw voicing from the character Cleveland on “Family Guy.” The latest move in a slew of White actors’ steps down from roles voicing animated characters of color.
Mike Henry has stepped down from playing the character Cleveland on “Family Guy,” the latest in a slew of White actors abdicating roles voicing animated characters of color.https://t.co/DlAtxJHgVf
— CNN (@CNN) June 27, 2020
Henry took Twitter on Friday evening to made the announcement of his stepping down from the role. He says that it’s an honor for him to play the character for twenty years. He loves the Cleveland character, but he has the desire that persons of color must play characters of color, the major reason for his stepping down.
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
The announcement of Henry comes shortly after “The Simpsons” declared it would decide to no longer voiced the White actors’ voice on non-White characters. That decision of the show came a few months after Hank Azaria announced that he would no more voice the Apu character of Simpsons, that criticized as a stereotypical, racist and disparaging representation of South Asian people.
However, Family Guy has other black characters voiced by White actors, like Tricia Takanawa, voiced by Alex Borstein, Lois Griffin’s character.
Henry joins several other White actors who are stepping down
All this happened because of the recent racial reckoning of pop culture, as gradually animated series’ creators and actors of color demand answerability from Hollywood as well as the entertainment industry. Last week, Jenny Slate, a popular comedian step down from voicing her role on Big Mouth as Missy Foreman-Greenwald. In a clarification of her move, she wrote on Instagram that Black people should play the black characters on an animated show.
She said that at the start of the show, she reasoned with herself that it was OK for her to play Missy because her mother is White and Jewish – as she is. Whereas Missy, a Black character, should play by Black people on an animated show. Similarly, Kristen Bell also announced to leave her role as a mixed-race character on Central Park, the animated series of Apple TV+.
The creative team and Bell behind the show came to know that the casting of the Molly character is a chance to grow representation right – to cast a mixed-race or Black actress and give Molly a voice that resounds with all the experiences and nuance of the character as they draw her.
Alison Brie, who voiced Diane Nguyen, a character of Vietnamese on Netflix’s BoJack Horseman, wished not to voice the character. She added that now she came to know that people of color should always voice people of color. Moreover, she wrote that collectively Hollywood missed an opportunity to represent the Vietnamese-American community respectfully and adequately. She also excused for all this and congratulated all those who stepped down from voicing roles in recent days. She also learned a lot from these actors.