There’s a brand new face on Sesame Street. Ji-Young, the newest puppet on the beloved children’s program, is making history as the first Asian American muppet in Sesame Street‘s 52-year history. She’s a 7-year-old Korean American who loves playing her electric guitar and skateboarding.
“So in Korean. traditionally the two syllables, they each mean something different. And Ji means, like smart or wise. And Young means, like, brave or courageous and strong,” Ji-Young explained during a recent interview. “But we were looking it up and guess what? Ji also means sesame.”
Ji-Young will be officially introduced during “See Us Coming Together: A Sesame Street Special,” which will arrive Thanksgiving on HBO Max, Sesame Street‘s social media platforms, and local PBS stations. Stars like Simu Liu, Padma Lakshmi, and Naomi Osaka are also set to appear.
The character was created amidst plenty of behind-the-scenes discussions surrounding how the show could react to major 2020 events like George Floyd’s death and anti-Asian hate crimes. In response, Sesame Workshop created two task forces â one to examine its content and one to reflect on its own diversity. The result was Coming Together, a multiyear initiative designed to teach children about race, ethnicity, and culture.
Ji-Young was also partially inspired by her puppeteer, 41-year-old Kathleen Kim. The Korean American artist got into puppetry in her 30s, eventually scoring a mentorship and gig on the show.
“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. But as her costars reminded her, “It’s not about us … It’s about this message.”
She added that it was important Ji-Young not be “generically pan-Asian.”
“Because that’s something that all Asian Americans have experienced. They kind of want to lump us into this monolithic ‘Asian,’” Kim said. “So it was very important to us that she was specifically Korean American.”
The post ‘Sesame Street’ Debuts Korean-American Ji-Young, Show’s First Asian American Puppet appeared first on Decider.