April O’Neil Will Be African-American in Nickelodeon’s Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!

Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles TMNT cast April O'Neil
Pictured (L-R): Nickelodeon’s Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles voice cast; Kat Graham (April O’Neil), Josh Brener (Donatello), Omar Miller (Raphael), Brandon Mychal Smith (Michelangelo) and Ben Schwartz (Leonardo). Image courtesy of Nickelodeon

Nickelodeon has announced the voice cast for the upcoming all-new Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The series will be the first to give audiences an African-American April O’Neil!

Nickelodeon’s Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a reimagining of the four iconic heroes. The 2D-animated series stars Omar Miller as Raphael, Ben Schwartz as Leonardo, Josh Brener as Donatello, and Brandon Mychal Smith as Michelangelo. Kat Graham, from The Vampire Diaries, will voice April O’Neil.

Making her debut appearance back in 1984, fans will get to see an African-American version of April O’Neil, a first for the long-running franchise, in the Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series which is set to air in 2018 on Nickelodeon.

Megan Fox played April in the 2014 live-action film and its sequel.

This incredible roster of voice actors provides a fresh take on these globally recognized characters, and they are going to bring this version of the Turtles to life in a whole new way,” said Chris Viscardi, Senior Vice President, Production and Development, Animation. “We have reimagined the series to be filled with humor, loads of action and a dynamic look, and it’s packed with all new heroes, villains, and cityscapes for the Turtles to explore.”

While we are yet to see how the characters will look, here are some of the details:

The highly comedic voice cast shapes the team in a fresh way and breathes new life into the characters’ distinct personalities, including: Raphael, as the oldest and physically biggest brother, he is now the leader and his enthusiasm and bravado puts him front and center for most of their bizarre adventures; Leonardo, the self-professed ‘coolest’ brother possesses irreverent charm and a rebel heart; Donatello, an unflappable mechanical genius and tech wizard whose ninja skills are second only to his coding; Michelangelo, the youngest brother, an artist and awesome skateboarder with a wild colorful, and imaginative personality; and the Turtles’ most trusted ally, April O’Neil, a street savvy native New Yorker who is always ready to join in the fun. Additionally, Eric Bauza (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) joins the cast as Splinter, both father figure and sensei to the Turtles.

Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles follows Raphael, Leonardo, Donatello and Michelangelo on all-new adventures as they seek to unlock the mystical secrets of New York City. From the tallest skyscraper to the dankest sewer drain, the Turtles will encounter absurd new mutants and battle bizarre creatures all while enjoying their favorite slice of pizza. Tapping into mystic, ninja powers they never knew existed, the four brothers must learn to work together and navigate the perils of the modern age and hidden realms in order to fulfill their destiny to become a team of heroes.

I’m looking forward to seeing how Raphael will fare as the leader. I have a feeling the series might have some sort of arc where Leonardo starts taking up more responsibility and becomes the leader. I say this because Leo eventually taking up the leadership role might serve as the reason behind the tension that has always existed between him and Raph.

Rob Paulsen will serve as the voice director. Paulsen is a true Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles veteran. He voiced Donatello in the CG-animated TMNT series. He also voiced Raphael in the original 1987 series.

The upcoming series will (currently) air for 26 episodes. The Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series is co-executive produced by Andy Suriano (character designer, Samurai Jack) and Ant Ward (supervising producer, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) at Nickelodeon in Burbank, Calif.

You can follow @TMNT for more news updates.

Having reviewed many TMNT figures from Playmates Toys, I’m looking forward to the new geek swag the upcoming series will inspire. I need an April O’Neil figure!

Feel free to share your thoughts about the Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series with us.

Author: Farid-ul-Haq

Farid has a Double Masters in Psychology and Biotechnology as well as an M.Phil in Molecular Genetics. He is the author of numerous books including Missing in Somerville, and The Game Master of Somerville. He gives us insight into comics, books, TV shows, anime/manga, video games, and movies.

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