Family Guy has found its new voice of Cleveland Brown in YouTube star Arif Zahir.
According to Deadline, Arif Zahir has officially been tapped to voice the character of Cleveland Brown in Fox’s Family Guy.
Zahir (well known for impersonating the character on his YouTube channel) takes over the role from longtime Cleveland voice actor Mike Henry, who announced he would be stepping down from the part at the beginning of the summer.
Henry, who is white, has voiced the character since the series first premiered back in 1999. The actor took to Twitter back in June to explain his decision to walk away from the role with fans far and wide.
“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,” tweeted Henry at the time.
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
In a statement announcing his involvement with the series, Zahir expressed his gratitude over getting the “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity to voice one of his favorite characters.
“When I head 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,” said Zahir.
“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 the show, I promise not to let you down.”
Mike will continue to voice Cleveland Brown through Season 18, with Zahir officially taking over voicing duties at the start of Season 19. Though he’ll no longer voice Cleveland, Mike will continue to stay on and lend his voice to other characters including Bruce the Performance Artist and Herbert the Pedophile.
Family Guy returns with new episodes September 27 on Fox.