When Nickleodeon's new seriesRise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtlespremieres this fall, one character we all know and love is going to look very different than we've seen before. This series' version of April O'Neil will be the first ever black version of the character, and she'll be voiced by The Vampire Diaries Kat Graham!
Many fans are excited to see this new imagining of April, but we all know the Internet can often be a cesspool of racism and bigotry, so the cast and creators are also prepared for the inevitable backlash they'll face from people angry at this decision. Though she might be bracing for impact, Graham doesn't sound too worried about the bullies on social media.
When asked at the Television Critics Association summer press tour whether she was nervous about a backlash, Graham responded, "No, bring it. I'm a black, Jewish actress. I'm pro-LGBTQ. I'm not afraid of anything. If anything, I'll get louder. I think these characters absolutely needed to be revamped, the questions do need to be asked... I'm more than happy to answer them, and I'm more than happy to stand in these positions and challenge different executives or writers or directors to say, 'Well, why can't this character be black?'"
Graham's bravery is commendable, especially when so many other performers have been bullied off of social media due to harassment and scare tactics some "fans" use when a beloved character is altered to be of a different race, religion or sexual orientation than his or her original depiction.
When reminded about the recent cases of such instances, such as Star Wars' Kelly Marie Tan deleting all her posts from Instagram after months of harassment orthe more recent case of black actress Anna Diop disabling comments on her Instagram account because some racists were upset that she was cast as Starfire in Titans, Graham said she didn't expect to find herself in that situation.