Meet TJ, the First Filipino-American Muppet of ‘Sesame Street’
by: The Beat Asia
May 13, 2023
In a heartwarming move that celebrates diversity and inclusivity, one of the longest-running children’s shows in the world, “Sesame Street,” has debuted its first Filipino-American muppet, TJ.
In a recent episode of the show, TJ, along with fellow muppets Ji-Young and Grover, as well as actor Kal Penn, had an insightful discussion about the importance of confidence and believing in oneself.
Filipino-American artist Bobby Pontillas took to Instagram to share the initial sketches of TJ. “I had the amazing opportunity to work with the geniuses at the Sesame Workshop to create a Filipino muppet for ‘Sesame Street!’ For his look, I based him off of my lifelong friends’ kids, Max and Mateo. I was blessed to collaborate with master puppeteer Louis Mitchell, the loveliest human on earth,” he wrote.
Meanwhile, the voice actor behind TJ, Yinan Shentu, shared some behind-the-scenes moments of his experience working for “Sesame Street.”
“Well, it’s finally official. Everyone, I’d like you to meet one of the newest visitors to ‘Sesame Street,’ TJ! This is his first ever appearance, where he learns about confidence with Kal Penn, Grover, and Ji-Young,” he said.
TJ’s distinctive physical traits, such as his brown skin, are clear indicators of his Filipino ancestry. He also rocks hair with bangs and a yellow and brown striped shirt, which adds to his magnetic charisma.
Catch TJ and other beloved characters like Elmo and Big Bird every week on “Sesame Street’s” official YouTube channel!
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