Photo courtesy of blogamole.tr3s.com
Sesame Street has announced to the Associated Press that the group is looking for a new reoccurring Latino character. The producers are holding an open casting call on Monday August 20th at the Roseland Ballroom in Manhattan. The audition is open for all actors with a good sense of humour who can sing and improvise in both Spanish and English.
The newest addition's origins are still to be determined. Each persona on Sesame Street is usually based on the actor's own background so viewers will have to wait and see which actor or actress is cast for the role. The series' first Hispanic characters, Maria and Luis, debuted in 1971.
With the rapidly changing demographics in the United States, it is a great idea to add another Latino character. The show also announced that its 44th season would focus on Hispanic heritage and thus wanted to increase their roster of Latino actors. I would love to see a Cuban get the part, especially given the large Cuban population in the US and the ongoing political tensions with Cuba.
The children's emission has always been committed to diversity. The show launched in 1969 with a multiracial cast, including an African-American couple among its main characters. Since its debut, Sesame Street has included casts from different races, religious, language, abilities and cultural backgrounds. The producers have depicted life as it should be in a multicultural society and this viewpoint has shaped generations of children.
One of the best parts of the show is that it takes important issues and presents them to kids without talking down to them. They have tackled single parenthood, international adoption, mixed race families and even death; issues that many adult shows are afraid to touch. Sesame Streeteven tried to air an episode on same-sex couples in 2005 but they faced many complaints from parents. Under threat of losing their funding from PBS, the episode was pulled. Hopefully, they will soon be able to air that episode without facing another backlash.
I grew up with Sesame Street and fondly remember watching the characters on screen. I always preferred the Muppets, but the real life actors brought issues to life for me as a kid. I think the world is a more accepting place thanks to Sesame Street. It has refused to shy away from difficult issues that many adults believe kids can't understand.
Focusing on Latino heritage is an excellent idea and an important step in fighting racism in our diverse society. Each person has their own story that is unique; acceptance of our differences is critical for multiculturalism to flourish in our globalized world. Sesame Street has been pushing the boundaries of 'normal' for almost fifty years. I hope this tradition carries on for years to come.
Kait Bolongaro loves to write about cultures and how people occupy them. She is a Masters student studying Journalism and Media Across Cultures in Denmark. She is a freelance journalist and photographer who is addicted to travelling and developing new stories. To follow her on her journeys, check out her website or follow her on twitter.