“Family Guy” has found the new voice of Cleveland Brown.
On Friday it was announced that YouTuber and voice actor Arif Zahir will take over the role of the supporting character in the long-running animated sitcom for its upcoming 19th season.
Excited to be apart of it! https://t.co/evEDkkmnZo
— Arif Zahir (@Azerrz) September 25, 2020
The role was previously voiced by actor/producer/writer Mike Henry — who is white — in both “Family Guy” and the spinoff “The Cleveland Show”. In June, Henry revealed that he would be stepping aside in order to have the Black character voiced by a Black actor.
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
Henry will continue on with the show as a writer/producer and voice actor for other characters.
Talking about stepping into the role, Zahir told The Hollywood Reporter, “Firstly, I’m eternally grateful to have received this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
“When I heard that Mike Henry was stepping down from the role of Cleveland Brown — my favourite cartoon character of all time — I was shocked and saddened, assuming we’d never see him again. When I learned I would get to take over the role? Overabundant gratitude,” he continued. “To Mike, you created something truly special and I promise I will do my absolute best to honour your legacy. To 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 down.”
Henry added, “I welcome Arif to the ‘Family Guy’ team. Arif’s vocal talent is obvious, but his understanding of Cleveland and his respect for the character give me confidence that he is in the right hands. I look forward to getting to know Arif and working with him to make sure Cleveland stays every bit as awesome as he has always been.”
The new season of “Family Guy” is premieres on Sunday, Sept. 27 with its milestone 350th episode.