Fox has landed YouTube star Arif Zahir as the new voice of Family Guy‘s Cleveland Brown. Zahir will be taking the character over from Mike Henry, who announced in June that he would be stepping down from the role.
“I love this character, but persons of color should play characters of color,” Henry said when he backed away from the role amid word from Fox that it would no longer have white actors voice people of color on their animated programs. Henry will still serve as the voice of Cleveland throughout Family Guy‘s upcoming eighteenth season, seeing as the character’s lines have already been recorded. News of Zahir’s appointment to the character comes hot off the heels of the show being renewed for seasons 19 and 20, which are already in production. Henry, who voices plenty of other characters on the show, will remain as one of Family Guy‘s star players.
“I welcome Arif to the ‘Family Guy’ team,” Henry said. “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.”
Known on YouTube as “Azerrz,” Zahir offers his viewers uncanny impressions of well-known figures such as President Obama, Cleveland Brown, Donald Trump, and Kendrick Lamar, as well as several others. He currently has 6.26 million subscribers and is bound to gain even more after today’s big announcement.
Be sure to watch the video posted below if you want to check out Zahir’s impersonation chops, including his impression of Family Guy‘s Cleveland Brown:
Zahir has this to say when reacting to landing his new job:
“Firstly, I’m eternally grateful to have received this once in a lifetime opportunity. 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.”