It’s been roughly a month since Nickelodeon announced that Kat Graham will be playing the role of April O’Neil in Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Since then, a lot of fans have noted that this is the first time a black woman has portrayed the character, breaking down ethnic barriers and potentially bringing something new to the character. During a recent visit to TRL, Graham was given the opportunity to touch on this subject and give us her own thoughts on the matter.
“I was really excited, because… I watch the show, but I’ve been watching this cartoon that I never thought they would ever… revamp to have an African American play this cartoon [character], and so many of us watch these cartoons, and we maybe don’t see representations of ourselves on screen – even if it’s animation – so I think this is a cool step in a very progressive direction.”
Needless to say, we couldn’t agree more with this sentiment. Although quite a few people have pointed out that James Avery played the role of Shredder, it’s worth noting that this was a villain role for a male character. African American women typically have a much more difficult time being cast in projects such as this, so Kat’s role as April O’Neil is much more significant and important than you might have otherwise thought.
Not only are we seeing the industry open up to more people, but girls of all ages and from all backgrounds are now seeing a lot more representation in the media they enjoy. There’s a lot of work to be done, but as Kat Graham suggests, this is indeed a step in the right direction. Personally, I can’t wait to see what she does with the character, and I’m very excited to see how they choose to write April in Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
I’m very excited to see an African American April and I totally agree. Representation is important. And I think it resonates with TMNT even more – who are already characters that are marginalized!
Yeah but unlike X-Men, which is basically Marvel’s love letter to all these civil movements, this franchise and its movies and TV series’ don’t get bogged down by social and political commentary which makes it a lot more fun (and quite possibly more focused) than the X-Men.
i cant wait for this series to finally be released!!!
April O’Neil was white and therefore the actress should be white.
She looked black in the early Mirage stuff. There’s a very serious age-old online debate as to whether she was intended to be one race or the other
Again, I would’ve expected the castings of Raph and Mikey in this series to get more headlines since none of the turtles have ever been voiced or acted by African Americans before. Not to mention Justin W gave me another cavity thanks to his sugar coating.
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