Kat Graham Cast as First African-American April O’Neil in ‘Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ Animated Series

Rise of TMNT Cast
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)

The crime-fighting, green ninjas of your childhood are being reimagined in an all-new animated series for Nickelodeon.

The network for kids announced on Thursday the voice cast for its series, Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which follows the adventures of turtle brothers Raphael, Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo and their human friend April in New York City. Omar Miller (Raphael), Ben Schwartz (Leonardo), Josh Brener (Donatello), Brandon Mychal Smith (Michelangelo) and Kat Graham (April O’Neil) will voice the iconic characters. Eric Bauza will voice Splinter.

Graham’s portrayal of April will be the first time an African-American woman has held that role. “I’ve watched TMNT since I was a little girl. I’m so proud to be playing the first African-American April O’Neil. What an incredible honor for me and milestone for this iconic cartoon,” Graham said in a statement. “I’m excited for all the adventures the Turtles and I will have!”

Rise of the Teenade Mutant Ninja Turtles“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.”

In the series, the four brothers “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,” according to a release.

One way the network will keep the essence of the original 1987 series is through Rise‘s director, Rob Paulsen, who voiced Raphael for nine seasons of the original animated series, and most recently voiced Donatello in Nickelodeon’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

The 26-episode series will debut in 2018.