Townsend Coleman is voice actor that has been featured on many television shows and commercials. He is well known for his role as the voice of the ‘cowabunga’ saying fun – loving mutant ninja turtle Michaelangelo in the Teenager Mutant Ninja Turtles series.
We met up him for an exclusive interview at San Diego Comic-Con 2019 where he discussed all things related to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, his career, voice acting and future projects.
He was attending at San Diego Comic-Con 2019 with New England Comics to promote the show The Tick (as he was the voice of the Tick in the 1994 series). He also explains that he is a guest speaker in a panel discussing the voice over and voice acting industry as well as how to get involved and be successful, so make sure to look for him at panels or autograph tables at future conventions!
Coleman then discusses how thankful he is that he is able to be a part of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and how great it is for him to see that there are multiple generations that all love and enjoy the Ninja Turtles. He also discusses how voice acting changed his life and allows him to do what he loves. The interview comes to a close with a discussion about how Ninja Turtles TV series has helped bring people together and also helped them through rough times and been a support for them in some ways, which he says makes him especially proud and thankful to have been a part of The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series.
Host: Cowabunga everyone! Machelle Noel here over at San Diego Comic Con 2019. Joining me right now is voice-over actor Townsend Coleman!
Townsend Coleman: Cowabunga!!
Host: You may know him from a lot of your favorite cartoon shows but our personal favorite would have to be Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles! So mr. Coleman, how are you doing today?
Townsend Coleman: I’m doing good good good! How are you doing?
Host: I’m doing great! I’m so glad we finally got a chance to chat because we have been trying to schedule this interview for almost two years and it finally worked out! So what brings you out here to San Diego Comic Con?
Townsend Coleman: Well I’m here actually out here for New England Comics in the Tick booth because the Tick was another character that I had done a million years ago. In fact, 25 years ago! Gosh, really? So yeah a quarter of a century ago this show launched.
Host: Dang! Time flies so fast!
Townsend Coleman: But not as long as Ninja Turtles!
Host: Yeah thats right Ninja Turtles, and you’re actually here today for a panel correct? You are teaching some voice over lessons?
Townsend Coleman: I am yeah! It’s basically how to break into voiceover, kinda what voiceover is all about. So we’ll be talking about commercials, promos which I also do and animation. All that kind of stuff so i’ll be doing that with Scott Brick, the world’s pre-eminent audiobook narrator.
Host: And Rachel Kimsey correct?
Townsend Coleman: And Rachel Kimsey yeah yeah!
Host: We interviewed her too!
Townsend Coleman: The voice of…
Host & Townsend Coleman: WONDER WOMAN!!
Host: Oh I love her so much, yeah so you know if you happen to be in town or in future cons be sure to check him out for his panels and for his autograph signing for the Tick. Now let’s get to turtles, we’re at the 35th anniversary oh my gosh!
Townsend Coleman: Holy cow. How did that happen?
Host: I know it’s almost like “uhhh okay,” so what’s it like being a part of that franchise? I’m sure you have so many great fond memories.
Townsend Coleman: Oh Machelle what can I say it’s amazing, it’s a blessing. I mean it’s something that I am super honored to be a part of you know every time we go out and do cons. Especially you know, last couple of years we’ve been going out the for of us original voices doing cons around the country. And boy I tell you the fans are just the best, and yeah they are amazing. And I have a blast doing it, you know just hearing the stories you know from so many fans about what turtles meant to them growing up and it’s just crazy. And to see so many of them now raising their kids on our original series, not just the newer versions of the series but they’re getting the DVDs of all 10 years of ours and raising their little ones on it so it’s pretty –
Host: Isn’t it amazing how you know the generation from the 80s and 90s and Rise of the Turtles? I mean, what’s it like you know coming across those multi-generational fans when they come and see you?
Townsend Coleman: Well that’s what’s so crazy you know, they’ll be in line and then they’ll get up to my table and there’ll be mom and dad and then all three or four kids all dressed as Ninja Turtles you know. All the way from 11 years old down to babies in strollers with their Ninja Turtles t-shirts on and onesies. Like the TMNT onesie I wear when I go to bed.
Host: That’s our favorite! Now we do have a bunch of fan questions, so we are going to be sure we get it out there. Obviously Michelangelo is your favorite, but tell us why.
Townsend Coleman: Is my favorite?
Host: Yeah, is her your favorite?
Townsend Coleman: Are you kiddin cause that dude is a party dude!! Yeah and he loves pizza, anchovy, and hot fudge!
Host: Interesting, so speaking of pizza what’s your favorite pizza topping?
Townsend Coleman: anchovy and hot fudge!
Host: …That’s a good one, okay! Now do you own a pair of nunchucks or any turtle weapons?
Townsend Coleman: I don’t.
Host: You don’t? Well that’s okay there’s still time, so you don’t practice any kinds of martial arts?
Townsend Coleman: “Noon chuku” “Noon chuku” “Noon Chakus” “Noon Chakus” … or something like that.
Host: Cool, and out of the five TMNT movies, which one was your favorite?
Townsend Coleman: The very last one! The most recent one what was that 2014? or 15? Something like that.
Host: What are your thoughts about the new one coming out?
Townsend Coleman: Uh just that I am looking forward to seeing it!
Host: Okay awesome!
Townsend Coleman: But yeah I love that last one especially my buddy Gary Anthony Williams playing Bebop in that was such a scream to see him!
Host: That was a really nice cult classic with that Bebop and Rocksteady. Um Rob Paulson you guys go way back, what’s your favorite fondest memory of him? And especially with being part of the rise?
Townsend Coleman: Actually, watching him score the voice of Donatello on the 2012 series and then seeing him voice direct this new series now just watching how he’s navigated through this whole business. Going from being an actor to being a director now. I love seeing that, but you know Robbie and I have done so many shows together I remember doing Fraggle Rock was one of the most fun shows I did with him. He was Boober on that and I was Gobo and working with him on Space Cats and Saber Rider and the Star Sheriff’s, and boy it seems like the list is endless of the shows that we’ve done together.
Host: I love seeing you work together, it’s like our Beatles!
Townsend Coleman: Yeah! Haha that’s what it feels like! To us we’ve been friends for so many years and to be able to go out and do these cons now together 30 years later, you know 30 plus years later. Really amazing.
Host: Who is your favorite April O’Neil actress?
Townsend Coleman: Actress? Well I mean hello Renee Jacobs! Ba dum dum.
Host: Yeah you know well what is your reaction when the female fans come up to you and they’re into Turtles? Like what’s your reaction?
Townsend Coleman: Well I’ll ask them so were you in to Ninja Turtles or was it your older brothers who was the fan in your family? And they’ll say “No! It was me!” and then of course “So who was your favorite turtle?” And then when they don’t say Michelangelo, “but you liked Michelangelo?” “Well we loved Michelangelo too, but actually Raphael or Donatello for whatever reason.” Yeah but I think it’s great and especially the gals who not only like Ninja Turtles when they were six, but also had their own action figures, they weren’t just borrowing their brothers figures. Wait, did you too??
Host: I was like that, I started it but with my male cousins I was the one who started that train and everyone else followed! And see how it all paid back?
Townsend Coleman: Yeah! Now look at ya!
Host: Now look at me, I’m next door neighbors to Kevin Eastman, I’ve been talking to everybody from Nickelodeon; Greg Cipes we IM each other all the time, and Eric Bauza! I have like countless interviews with Eric Bauza from five years ago and they’re like “Did I not call it that you were gonna do well?”
Townsend Coleman: Fangirling out aren’t you?
Host: I am such a bad fangirl I know…
Townsend Coleman: That’s so great though! Good for you!
Host: Thank you! Um are you more into the comics, movies, or animations?
Townsend Coleman: Animation.
Host: For sure okay, is there a particular favorite TMNT outfit that you like?
Townsend Coleman: You mean to wear? Of my own? Well I’ve got some Ninja Turtle t-shirts and it’s about as far as I go. I don’t have any underwear, I don’t have the socks. You know but I will tell you, can I tell you this really quick story? So Rob Paulsen just about two weeks ago sang the national anthem at a Dodgers Game. And he got a chance to meet Justin Turner, superstar on the Dodgers, and Justin Turner came up and said “So are you really Raphael?” because he was singing the national anthem there. And he said “Yeah!” and he said “Would you mind doing the voice?” And so he did a couple lines for him and turns out that Justin Turner last year when they were in the world series was wearing his Ninja Turtle t-shirt under his uniform. And he’s had Adidas make special Ninja Turtle cleats for baseball for him with the turtle characters on the side. It’s pretty crazy so you know I’ve seen some great fan outfits, but I think that one takes the cake.
Host: Now I have to go find that and tag it!
Townsend Coleman: I’ll show you some pictures that Robbie showed me.
Host: And then just to kind of close out, how has voice acting changed or enriched your life both as an actor and spiritually as a person? I know it’s a little deep —
Townsend Coleman: Did you say spiritually as a person? Well yeah I can answer that, pretty quickly by just simply saying it’s changed my life completely because I get to do what I love. You know and honestly cartoons is not something I ever thought about doing, I came out to LA from Cleveland in 1984 to be a face actor and on-camera actor. And I got this audition for a cartoon series called Inspector Gadget in the spring of 85 never having thought about doing cartoons. And I got a part on this thing and I said “Wow this is kind of fun you know send me out on more of this stuff” and I just started booking parts and series and it was great!
Host: But you also started in radio too right?
Townsend Coleman: I did I was 10 years as a disc jockey in Cleveland, yeah so discovering this whole world of animation, and then into commercials, and then promos I was the voice of NBC for 16 years as their comedy announcer for all their must see TV stuff. And so the whole voiceover thing just liked grabbed me by the throat and has never let go and I’m so thankful for it. So that’s the first part of that, the second part is spiritually what I immediately think of is when I meet these fans at these conventions and I hear so many sometimes heart-wrenching and heartbreaking stories about the childhoods that they had but that were changed because of the Ninja Turtles and what the Ninja Turtles and particular characters, could have been Michelangelo Donatello whoever, what these characters meant to them and how it got them through rough times. Maybe it was a bad divorce, maybe it was a death in the family, I mean that’s life changing when you hear these kinds of stories you know so yeah that’s how –
Host: It was definitely a great escape from reality, I know everybody’s probably been on that same boat and even though times were kind of good that time but everyone… It’s a universal thing everybody has a relatable story and I appreciate you sharing that. Before we close it out, do you have any other social causes or anything from your website you want to share through where people can find you online?
Townsend Coleman: Well A. I don’t have a website, no I am way behind the times –
Host: I can help you out with that!
Townsend Coleman: And happy to be so. You know listen I’m just on Facebook I don’t Twitter, I don’t Instagram, I don’t do any that stuff. LIsten, looks at my hair *points to head* I am an old guy you know!
Host: You’re a childlike spirit I love it!
Townsend Coleman: Well thanks so much
Host: Well know what Townsend I can go on forever talking to you but I know –
Townsend Coleman: Oh Machelle you’re so sweet!
Host: So folks be sure to find Townsend Coleman any Comic Cons that you go, and be sure to like follow and subscribe, and thank you so much for joining us Townsend and hopefully we’ll see you guys next time as well. Thank you!
Host & Townsend Coleman: Cowabunga!
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Jacqueline Nofal | Writing Contributor
B.A | Communicatons | UC San Diego
Jacqueline is fourth year student at UC San Diego and will receive a BA in Communications and minor in music this June. She has always loved writing, telling stories and making people laugh. She is continuously captivated by a story’s ability to inspire, entertain or bring hope to people. She loves reading, watching movies and definitely anything Disney! She also has a love for music. She has been singing most of her life and is currently singing in the La Jolla Symphony Chorus. In her other free time you can find her traveling, volunteering, listening to music, going to the beach and just enjoying the San Diego sunshine! Instagram @jackie.nofal | View My Articles
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