“Sesame Street” is making history by introducing its first Asian American muppet.
On Monday, the popular kids show welcomed Ji-Young, a seven-year-old Korean American, to its family of puppet characters. Sesame Workshop puppeteer Kathleen Kim performs the historic character.
“Sesame Street” also announced a new TV special that celebrates the diversity of the Asian and Pacific Islander community, debuting on Thanksgiving. “See Us Coming Together: A Sesame Street Special” will feature celebrity guests, including “Shang-Chi” star Simu Liu, “Top Chef” host Padma Lakshmi, “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” actor Anna Cathcart, comic book artist Jim Lee, chef Melissa King and tennis star Naomi Osaka. The new special will be available to watch on HBO Max, PBS Kids, ‘Sesame Street’s’ YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram channels.
“Sesame Workshop’s mission is to help kids grow smarter, stronger, and kinder. Today, we uphold that mission by empowering children and families of all races, ethnicities, and cultures to value their unique identities,” said Kay Wilson Stallings, Sesame Workshop’s executive vice president of creative and production. “’See Us Coming Together’ continues ‘Sesame Street’s’ proud legacy of representation with an engaging story that encourages empathy and acceptance and uplifts Asian and Pacific Islander communities. With the generous support of the The Asian American Foundation, Ford Foundation, and P&G/Pampers, we’re proud to bring this special to life.”
Anti-Asian racism has grown amid the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the “Sesame Street” special hopes to give families the opportunity to talk about race. In the special, Ji-Young is told offscreen to “go home,” and she seeks out trusted grown-ups and friends to reassure her that she’s exactly where she belongs.
“It’s a powerful thing when kids see people like themselves represented on screen and in stories—it supports them as they figure out who they are and who they want to be,” said Alan Muraoka, longtime ‘Sesame Street’ cast member and co-director of ‘See Us Coming Together.’ “We can’t wait for families to get to know Ji-Young — in this special and in future seasons of ‘Sesame Street’ — and celebrate some of the Asian and Pacific Islander people in our neighborhood.”