"It's been an honor to play Cleveland on Family Guy for 20 years," says Mike Henry.
Credit: FOX

Mike Henry is leaving Cleveland.

The Family Guy voice actor, who is white, announced Friday that he would no longer play Cleveland Brown, Peter's chipper neighbor, who is black, on the animated Fox comedy. "It's been an honor to play Cleveland on Family Guy for 20 years," Henry said on Twitter. "I love this character, but persons of color should play characters of color. Therefore, I will be stepping down from the role."

The fan-favorite character was part of the action for eight seasons before getting his own spin-off series, The Cleveland Show. That series, which also aired on Fox, lasted four seasons, and when it was canceled, Cleveland returned to Family Guy.

Today's news arrives at a time when Hollywood is re-examining how it represents characters of color in animation. The Simpsons producers announced on Friday that white actors will not voice non-white characters moving forward. Jenny Slate has exited Netflix comedy Big Mouth, on which she played a biracial character. And Kristen Bell is stepping down from her biracial character on Apple TV+'s new show Central Park.

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