'Rise Of The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' Cast Announced, Includes First Black April O'Neil

Those turtles in a half-shell are back for the animated Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, a new 2D animated series that will follow everyone's favorite pizza-loving sewer monsters. The official voice cast for Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was recently announced, along with a brief rundown of what to expect from the new Turtles series.

You just can't stop those ninja turtles! Since their first comic book appearance in the 1980s, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have been entrancing audiences and making parents say, "What the hell is this? Turtles who eat pizza?" An animated series and several movies followed, including a recent sort-of gritty reboot series from producer Michael Bay.

Now the turtles will be back in animated form in Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, an all-new adventure that's described as "a reimagining that follows the band of brothers as they encounter new allies and villains and discover a mystical world they never knew existed beneath the streets of New York City." The series just announced its official cast and it's an excellent comedic line-up, which makes sense since the show is supposedly going to play-up funnier elements.

Notably, the show will introduce the first African-American April O'Neil, the one human character whom the turtles trust the most. The cast includes Omar Miller (Ballers) as Raphael, Ben Schwartz (Parks and Recreation) as Leonardo, Josh Brener (Silicon Valley) as Donatello, Brandon Mychal Smith (You're The Worst) as Michelangelo, Kat Graham (The Vampire Diaries) as April O'Neil and Eric Bauza as Splinter, the giant rat who trains these turtles in martial arts.

With the cast announcement came a character breakdown of each part they play:

  • 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
  • April O'Neil, the Turtles' most trusted ally, as a street savvy native New Yorker who is always ready to join in the fun.
  • If I'm remembering my Turtles lore correctly, this is all a bit of a change from the classic line-up, which had Leonardo as the default leader of the gang while Raphael was more of the hot head (he was the only turtle who cursed in the first live-action Ninja Turtles movie, yelling out "DAMN!" and shocking my child-ears at the time). Clearly, this new show is clearly hoping to take the property in a new direction. The 26-episode Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles will air sometime in 2018.