AceShowbiz - YouTube star Arif Zahir has been cast as the new voice of beloved "Family Guy" character Cleveland Brown after Mike Henry left the role.
Series creator Seth MacFarlane and showrunners Rich Appel and Alec Sulkin announced the casting of the voice actor on Friday (25Sep20), just months after white star Henry walked away from the character to leave the part open for an actor of colour.
"Firstly, I'm eternally grateful to have received this once in a lifetime opportunity," Arif said of landing the job as the beloved show regular in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter. "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, who will continue to write and voice other characters on the cartoon, after playing Cleveland for 20 years on "Family Guy" and spinoff "The Cleveland Show" until his departure in June (20), has extended a warm welcome to Zahir in his own separate statement: "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."
Arif will debut his Cleveland Brown voice in the 19th season of "Family Guy", which is set to air in 2021 and 2022.
"Family Guy" is the latest animated programme to commit to reserving non-white character roles for actors of colour, with "The Simpsons", "Big Mouth", and "Central Park" also making similar commitments in recent months.