Cookie Monster and Elmo has a competition on Sesame Street. The popular children’s series has its first Asian-American character. Skateboarder Ji-Young is smart, brave, and courageous, going by her name. And yes, Ji is Korean for sesame.
Ji-Young is only 7, but he is already making waves on Sesame Street. The Korean American is passionate about 2 things, skateboarding and rocking with her guitar. The world got a first look at the adorable new entrant to the program that started 52 years back.
We will get to see Ji-Young in the special See Us Coming Together. A host of celebrities will make a special appearance, including Naomi Osaka, Simu Liu, and Padma Lakshmi, going live on HBO Max on Thanksgiving Day. It will also be on Sesame Street social platforms and the PBS stations.
Ki-Young Brings To Sesame Street A Bit Of Her Creator-Puppeteer
Ki-Young gets a lot of her personality from Kathleen Kim, her creator-puppeteer. Kim is a Korean-American and is into puppetry for over a decade. She was part of a Sesame Street workshop in 2014. Her involvement grew, and she evolved into mentorship and became a team member a year later.
Sesame Street was the fulfillment of a dream for Kim as she became part of a show that she had watched growing up. But creating a whole new puppet character was something unique.
Ji-Young comes in after much discussion on the ground, including anti-Asian hatred and the murder of George Floyd. Sesame Street has reflected on best it could represent the moment.
A couple of task forces were established by Sesame Workshop, the non-profit behind Sesame Street. One looked after the content while the other was into diversity. It culminated in Coming Together, a long initiative teaching children the correct way to address ethnicity, culture, and race.
Tamir, 8, was the first used Muppet on the show, dwelling on issues like racism, though he wasn’t the first Black Muppet on the show.
Kim says that they avoided lumping Ki-Young into a monolithic Asian. She was Korean American. Being a good upstander is one of the things that Ji-Young will teach. She will act and speak in support of an individual or a cause and intervene every time a person is bullied or attacked.
Ji-Young will have a strong presence in the new season of Sesame Street, popping up in live-action, animated, and digital programs. She will definitely be there for matters of racial justice.