“Family Guy” showrunners have found their new Cleveland Brown voice — it’s a Black YouTuber who can handle the role with ease, and probably a few others on the show too.
Arif Zahir has been cast to voice Cleveland for the 19th season come 2021-2022. The former longtime white voice actor for Cleveland, Mike Henry, will have his last go-round for the 18th season, which premieres Sunday. He announced in June he was dropping the role.
Zahir is a great pick … for one, he’s African-American, something ‘FG’ producers and Henry himself wanted in the new actor to take up the mantle. More importantly, the guy’s spot-on with his impression … something he’s showcased on his channel for a while now.
He’s famous for his impersonations, which include Cleveland, Obama, Trump, Ted, Stewie Griffin, 21 Savage … and others. In case you didn’t catch it — that’s THREE characters in the MacFarland-verse that Zahir can pull off no problem — and he could probably do Peter just as easily. So, if Seth was ever sick during a recording day, Arif could potentially fill in.
The point is … the dude’s a catch-all talent, and Henry himself acknowledged as much. He says of the casting, “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.” He adds, “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 himself said he was eternally grateful for the opportunity, and promised fans not to let them down. The change comes on the heels of several animated shows — including “The Simpsons” — committing to casting actors of color for roles that coincide with their race.