Family Guy’s new Cleveland voice actor revealed his version of the character and fans are thrilled about it. Arif Zahir is taking over for Mike Henry moving forward, and it is clear that he’s been studying the inflections because Cleveland’s voice is perfect. Funny enough, Zahir got the role after joking about volunteering on TikTok. A bunch of views on social media later and now he’s on deck for the 19th season of the Fox staple. This conversation percolated all over the web this summer as people began to question why Black actors and actresses didn’t play characters of color. As a whole, the animation industry had a lot of white voice actors lending their talents to roles that could be filled by more diverse options. The Cleveland switcher is just the latest example of the medium trying to be more accommodating.
"I'm eternally grateful to have received this once in a lifetime opportunity," he said in a written statement. "To Mike Henry, 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."
Hey new comers! I won’t let you down! pic.twitter.com/rFPv1Lk5GW— Arif Zahir (@Azerrz) September 25, 2020
In some other comments to EW, the star talked about what this moment meant to him. "Firstly, I’m eternally grateful to have received this once in a lifetime opportunity," Zahir explained. "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 [executive producer] Rich Appel, [executive producer] Alec Sulkin and [creator] 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."
Comicbook.com’s Russ Burlingame talked about this summer’s animation shakeup.
“Arguably the most notable of the changes was the decision to have Hank Azaria step away from the role of Apu on The Simpsons -- a part notable not just for its longevity but because Azaria's tenure had weathered a similar controversy following the release of the 2017 documentary The Problem With Apu. Jenny Slate's Big Mouth character, Missy,” Burlingame wrote
What do you think of Cleveland’s new voice? Let us know in the comments!