Aaron J. Thornton/FilmMagic, Fox TV
Actor Wendell Pierce is petitioning to become the new voice of beloved Black cartoon character Cleveland Brown.
Pierce, of HBO's The Wire fame, has launched a media campaign to be the new voice of Cleveland on "Family Guy" after Mike Henry, a white actor announced he would no longer voice the Black character.
"It's been an honor to play Cleveland on 'Family Guy' for 20 years," Henry wrote on social media. "I love this character, but persons of color should play characters of color. Therefore, I will be stepping down from the role."
Henry's decision follows on the heels of other white actors who gave up their roles playing Black cartoon characters.
Last week, Jenny Slate announced she was walking away from the series "Big Mouth" amid Black Lives Matter protests taking place around the world.
Pierce, pictured with actor Dominic West in a scene from The Wire, took to social media to stake his claim for the voiceover gig.
"Now that Mike Henry has consciously given up the role of Cleveland, I am publicly starting a campaign to voice the role myself on ‘The Cleveland Show.'"
"Family Guy" has aired over 300 episodes across 18 seasons of television. Fox renewed the series last month for its 19th season.
Getty Images, Netflix
Jenny Slate trended on social media this week after she announced she would no longer voice the character of Missy Foreman-Greenwald, a mixed-race girl on Netflix's animated comedy "Big Mouth."
Slate, 38, voiced Missy since the show first aired on Netflix in 2017. But the current state of racial tension in America caused Slate to rethink her role.
She announced she was quitting the show in an open letter on Instagram post on Wednesday:
"At the start of the show, I reasoned with myself that it was permissible for me to play 'Missy' because her mom is Jewish and White — as am I. But 'Missy' is also Black, and Black characters on an animated show should be played by Black people."
In the open letter, Slate, who is Caucasian, said after some self-reflecting she realized her decision to accept the role of a mixed-race girl was "flawed" and "an example of white privilege."
She said continuing to voice the character was "engaging in an act of erasure of Black people."
Slate acknowledged that, while she "can't change the past," it was her duty to engage in "meaningful anti-racist action."
Slate concluded her open letter by vowing to be more "thoughtful about the messages in my work" and apologized to those she had hurt. am so very sorry. Black voices must be heard. Black Lives Matter," she added.
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