Sesame Street Debuts First Asian American Muppet Ji-Young
Sesame Street is getting ready to welcome a new muppet resident.
When the popular children's series debuts its See Us Coming Together: A Sesame Street Special next week, it will introduce Ji-Young, a Korean American muppet with a passion for skateboarding and electric guitar playing. It's the first time in 52 years that Sesame Street has introduced an Asian American muppet into its ranks.
"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," Kay Wilson Stallings, Sesame Workshop's executive vice president of creative and production, said in a statement.
"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 Asian American Foundation, Ford Foundation, and P&G/Pampers, we're proud to bring this special to life."
According to a bio on the Sesame Street website, Ji-Young is "a spunky seven-year-old" who "is extremely close with her family and is proud of her Korean heritage. She loves playing music with her grandma and cooking her favorite food — tteokboki. Her family eats dinner together at the kitchen table every night, chatting in both Korean and English."
Ji-Young will be brought to life by Sesame Workshop puppeteer Kathleen Kim, who has been a part of the team since 2014.
"I feel like I have a lot of weight that maybe I'm putting on myself to teach these lessons and to be this representative that I did not have as a kid," Kim told the Associated Press in an interview.
Actors Simu Liu, Padma Lakshmi, and Naomi Osaka will also appear on the special that premieres Thanksgiving Day on HBO Max, local PBS stations, and Sesame Street social media platforms. According to the press release, the special features the celebrities "sharing their passions, talents, and cultures with their Sesame Street friends."
"This is a proud moment for AAPIs everywhere, particularly Korean Americans, as Ji-Young and the See Us Coming Together special demonstrate that Asian Americans are part of the very fabric of American society and culture," added Sheila Lirio Marcelo, The Asian American Foundation boardmember. "At TAAF, we are striving to help create a permanent and irrevocable sense of belonging for AAPIs in this country, and supporting Sesame Workshop's introduction of the first-ever Asian American Sesame Street Muppet brings us one step closer toward making that vision a reality. We are grateful for their partnership and their commitment to supporting AAPI communities."
Earlier this year, Sesame Street debuted its first Black family in the form of Wes and Elijah Walker, a father-son duo. The addition of Wes and Elijah came as part of the ongoing "Coming Together" initiative seeking to teach children about race and equality.
This story originally appeared on ew.com