The 44th season of “Sesame Street” will focus on Latino heritage as the show looks for a new, recurring Latino character.
The producers of “Sesame Street” told The Associated Press (via NBCLatino) that they held an open casting call for a recurring character to join the “‘Sesame Street’ family.” The show seeks bilingual actors or actresses between the ages of 18 and 25. It was the first time the show ever held an open casting call and more than 400 tried out.
Rocio Galarza, senior director of content planning, design and outreach for Sesame Workshop, the non-profit organization behind “Sesame Street” said it’s too early to talk about the specifics of the new character — which would depend on the chosen actor or actress’ background. Galarza said the show is hiring someone capable of singing and improvising in both English and Spanish and with a good sense of humor.
“Sesame Street” first appeared in 1969 and has versions in several countries, including Israel, Nigeria, Germany and Mexico, where “Plaza Sésamo” is broadcast. The series has traditionally tried to reflect the changing demographics of the U.S. population, which has seen a large increase of Hispanics in the last decades, Galarza said.
According to the Wall Street Journal, “Sesame Street” executives will make their decision before the 44th season starts shooting on Sept. 16. The episodes will air next fall.
Of course, Latino characters are nothing new to “Sesame Street.” As the Wall Street Journal pointed out, Sonia Manzano, 62 years old, who has played Maria since 1971, and Emilio Delgado, who plays the character Luis, were among the first Latino characters in mainstream pop culture.
The Wall Street Journal reports that “Sesame Street,” shown in 150 countries, has seen its ratings grow by 21% in the 2- to 5-year-old age group between 2008 and the spring of 2012, according to Nielsen Media Research. The uptick helped the show climb to 12th from 19th in the children’s programming category.
Photo (c) Sesame StreetChildren’s Television Workshop