Wendell Pierce campaigns to be new voice of Cleveland Brown on 'Family Guy'

Suzy Byrne
Editor, Yahoo Entertainment

Wendell Pierce is campaigning to be the new voice of Family Guy’s Cleveland Brown.

In the wake of Mike Henry relinquishing the voice role after 20 years — saying “persons of color should play characters of color” — Pierce, of Suits and The Wire fame, is volunteering himself as the replacement.

He announced via Twitter on Sunday that he is “publicly starting a campaign,” already drawing more than 25,000 likes and 5,000 more retweets.

Among those showing support of Pierce as Cleveland, a friend of the show’s main character Peter Griffin, are House of Cards’s Michael Kelly and Sex and the City’s Willie Garson.

On Friday, Henry announced he would be stepping down as the original voice for the character after two decades. He said, “I love this character, but persons of color should play characters of color.”

Henry, also a writer and producer on Family, debuted the role of Cleveland in 1999 — and also played him for four seasons in the spin-off, The Cleveland Show. He also voices various other Family Guy characters.

The announcement of Henry stepping came after a number of white actors — Kristen Bell (Central Park) and Jenny Slate (Big Mouth) — also vacated roles from voicing Black characters in animated series. Alison Brie expressed her regret for voicing a Vietnamese American BoJack Horseman character. On Friday, The Simpsons producers said white actors will no longer play characters of color.

These changes have come amid ongoing nationwide protests in which people are demanding racial justice and equality. In entertainment, we’ve also seen the makers of live-action shows, such as 30 RockScrubsCommunity and Parks and Rec, yank old episodes of those series that included blackface. And Jimmy Kimmel apologized for having done blackface himself in the now defunct The Man Show.

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