Ji-Young, the first Asian American muppet, made her debut on “Sesame Street,” the 45th season of the children’s television show that marks its 45th anniversary on March 2.
“We believe in the power of our stories to build understanding and respect for all children,” said Suzie Wong, president of the Sesame Workshop, in a release. “Asian children are uniquely unique and what we’re working to capture on ‘Sesame Street’ are the rich cultural experiences of our children, including the varied tastes, mannerisms and tones.”
Si, the first Korean American muppet, made her debut on “Sesame Street” in March 2018.
The show has many of its actors interviewed and featured on social media profiles, but this is the first time an Asian American has joined the children’s program. Lee Su Yu, who portrays Ji-Young, said the storyline was an opportunity to create an iconic character from South Korea who also has a connection to the U.S. and specifically to the western world.
“Because it’s American,” Lee said in an Instagram post on Friday. “It’s been translated into Korean and Chinese. She’s Korean-American, and people say she has an American girl’s personality. But her Vietnamese and Chinese names mean she could be Vietnamese, and her Korean name means she could be Chinese.”
The Sesame Workshop said they are in the process of creating a second Korean American character, “Erin.” The new Korean characters are in honor of the Kwanzaa Holiday, which was recognized for its founding during the mid-1960s in an attempt to promote African culture in the U.S.