TV | September 28, 2020 12:48 pm

“Family Guy” Casts YouTuber Arif Zahir as New Voice of Cleveland Brown

Mike Henry stepped down from the role in June, saying "persons of color should play characters of color"

Cleveland Brown (right) in season sixteen of "Family Guy"
Cleveland Brown (right) in season sixteen of "Family Guy"
FOX Image Collection via Getty I

Back in June, voice actor Mike Henry stepped down from his longtime role as Cleveland Brown on Family Guy, saying, “persons of color should play characters of color.” Now, as NME reports, the show has announced his replacement: YouTube star Arif Zahir.

Zahir, who has done impressions of the character on his YouTube channel, will take over for Henry beginning with Season 19 of the show. Henry will continue to voice other characters on the series.

“Firstly, I’m eternally grateful to have received this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Zahir said in a statement. “When I heard that Mike Henry was stepping down from the role of Cleveland Brown — my favorite 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. To Mike, you created something truly special, and I promise I will do my absolute best to honor 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 issued a statement of his own, saying, ““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.”