Wendell Pierce Wants to Take Over Voicing 'Family Guy's' Cleveland

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Wendell Pierce

Original character actor Mike Henry said last week he is done performing the role as he no longer felt comfortable amid a new push for animated characters of color to no longer be voiced by white actors.

Now that Mike Henry has stepped down from the role, Wendell Pierce said he would like to take over performing the voice of Cleveland Brown on Family Guy. 

Henry, who voiced the character for 20 years both on Fox's Family Guy and and four seasons on The Cleveland Show, announced last week he would no longer play the African American cartoon character amid a new push for characters of color to no longer be portrayed by white actors. 

"It’s been an honor to play Cleveland on Family Guy for 20 years," Henry wrote on Twitter. "I love this character, but persons of color should play characters of color. Therefore, I will be stepping down from the role." Henry also voiced the Black child character, Rallo Tubbs, who is Cleveland's stepson. It is unclear if the character(s) will be recast or no longer appear on the show. 

Piece, best known for his work on HBO's The Wire and Treme, as well as Amazon's Jack Ryan serieson Sunday said via social media he would like play Cleveland in future episodes. "Now that Mike Henry has consciously given up the role of Cleveland, I am publicly starting a campaign to voice the role myself on The Cleveland Show. #WendellIsCleveland," he wrote. The post was shared nearly 5,000 times and has more than 24,000 likes. The more than 700 replies were overwhelmingly in favor of the pitch. 

Shortly after Henry made his announcement, The Simpsons also made news when the long-running Fox cartoon said characters of color would no longer be voiced by white actors. "Moving forward, The Simpsons will no longer have white actors voice non-white characters," the show said in a statement Friday.

The Simpsons for years has been criticized for its stereotypical portrayal of characters of color, specifically Apu, who was voiced by Hank Azaria before the actor said he was stepping down from the role. “Once I realized that that was the way this character was thought of, I just didn’t want to participate in it anymore,” Azaria said earlier in the year of his decision. “It just didn’t feel right.” The character is the subject of The Problem With Apu, a 2017 documentary by comedian Hari Kondabolu.