The Simpsons, Family Guy to undergo casting changes as white actors leave non-white roles

Characters from the television shows.
Characters from the television shows. Photo credit: 20th Century Fox.

Animated television shows Family Guy and The Simpsons will see changes to their casts as calls for greater representation of actors of colour amp up.

Actor Mike Henry, the voice behind Family Guy's African-American character Cleveland Brown, tweeted on Saturday that "persons of colours should play characters of colour" and said he would step down from the role. 

It's unclear what will happen to the character, which once had a spin-off show.

Henry's statement came as The Simpsons' producers announced the show would "no longer have white actors voice non-white characters".

Hank Azaria revealed earlier this year that he would stop voicing Apu Nahasapeemapetilon after criticism levelled at the portrayal. Show creator Matt Groening has previously said the character would remain.

Other characters of colour played by white actors include Dr Julius Hibbert. Their fates are unknown.

The death of George Floyd last month prompted widespread condemnation of systemic racism across many different industries, including in Hollywood, which has long been accused of lacking proper representation for minority characters and actors.

Among other actors to step down from roles recently are Jenny Slate and Kristen Bell, who each played biracial characters on Big Mouth and Central Park respectively.

"I am happy to relinquish this role to someone who can give a much more accurate portrayal and I will commit to learning, growing and doing my part for equality and inclusion," Bell said on Thursday.

Both Family Guy and The Simpsons have run for decades. The Simpsons is the longest-running scripted primetime American show of all time and regarded among the best ever created.