Sesame Street Welcomes Its First Asian American Muppet to the Neighborhood

The beloved children’s show Sesame Street is welcoming a new neighbor. Ji-Young is a Muppet resident joining the neighborhood—the first Asian American puppet to do so in the show’s 52 years. She is a 7-year-old Korean American girl who loves to play her eclectic guitar and skateboard, and she lives with her parents, siblings, and grandma (known as halmeoni in Korean).

Ji-Young’s name is fitting for living on Sesame Street. “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,” she explained during an interview. “But we were looking it up and guess what? Ji also means sesame.”

Ji-Young will officially be introduced in “See Us Coming Together: A Sesame Street Special” which premieres on Thanksgiving Day. It will be a star-studded event with Simu Liu, Padma Lakshmi, and Naomi Osaka as some of the celebrities appearing in the program.

Beyond being an adorable and energetic addition to the Sesame Street family, Ji-Young plays an important role in helping to counter anti-Asian bias and harassment. Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit that produces the television show, created the character to “support families of Asian and Pacific Islander heritage.” Ji-Young’s genesis is part of Coming Together, Seasame Workshop’s racial justice initiative established in the summer of 2020.

Kathleen Kim is Ji-Young’s puppeteer. Kim, who is also Korean American, understands the weight of her role. “My one hope, obviously, is to actually help teach what racism is, help teach kids to be able to recognize it and then speak out against it,” she said. “But then my other hope for Ji-Young is that she just normalizes seeing different kinds of looking kids on TV.”

“See Us Coming Together: A Sesame Street Special” will be on HBO Max, the show’s social media platforms, and local PBS stations.

The beloved television show Sesame Street is getting a new neighbor: Ji-Young, the first Asian American Muppet.

Ji-Young is a Korean American girl who loves to play her eclectic guitar. She’ll be part of the Best Friends Band.

Ji-Young will officially be introduced in “See Us Coming Together: A Sesame Street Special” which premieres on Thanksgiving Day.

 

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h/t: [NPR, TODAY]

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