'Sesame Street' gets new Hispanic character
Ismael Cruz is the newest addition to the cast of the popular children series.
NEW YORK (AP) — As a child in Puerto Rico, Ismael Cruz was delighted by the colorful characters in "Sesame Street," who not only entertained and educated him, but helped him learn "Inglés." He could not have imagined that two decades later he would be playing with them in front of the cameras.
Cruz is the newest Hispanic addition to the cast of the popular children series, playing Armando, or "Mando."
Gallery: 11 celebrities who speak for animals
"'Sesame Street' is a magical place. It doesn't matter if you are working there or just visiting, or if you're watching on TV, that magic is always there," Cruz, 26, told The Associated Press. "I grew up watching the show, and for me it was a place that really existed and to which as a child I aspired to go, a place so diverse that I could see myself in the faces of the people that were there. Being on the set now is that, but with cameras."
Cruz's character is a writer from Brooklyn who writes everything from short stories to essays and movie scripts. He also loves technology and social media.
The addition expands a cast of Hispanic characters that includes Maria (Sonia Manzano) and Luis (Emilio Delgado), who debuted on "Sesame Street" in 1971 as human characters, as well as Rosita, the charming turquoise monster who joined in 1993 with Mexican puppeteer Carmen Osbahr, who also voices Ovejita.
The show wants to reflect the population changes in the U.S., where Hispanics are the fastest-growing minority. It also features African-American, Asian and American Indian characters.
"It's a show that's always cutting-edge, that is always aware of what's going on with the population, so by including a character that is young, with new perspectives, Latino, and that bring that new generation, it is carrying on with that message," Cruz said.
Cruz grew up poor in Aguas Buenas, Puerto Rico, and his mother tuned in to "Sesame Street" so his son would learn English. Cruz studied music and dreamed of being an actor, eventually attending New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. Before "Sesame Street," he appeared on "The Good Wife" and in films "In The Blood," ''White Alligator" and "Chaser."
The casting call for a new Hispanic character on "Sesame Street" attracted hundreds of bilingual actors last August.
"I hadn't seen it, (but) many people who knew me and read the description of what they were looking for sent me messages through Facebook, email and phone telling me, 'You have to do this audition, this is perfect for you.' And that's how I began this process," he said.
"Mando" will make his debut on the 44th season of "Sesame Street," which starts airing Sept. 16. Carol-Lynn Parente, executive producer of the show, said she and her team knew immediately that Cruz was the perfect addition.
"He has a passion for creative expression and a warmth that comes right through the camera," Parente said in a statement.
More from The Family Room:
Readers: Calling all mom bloggers — we’re looking for fresh voices on MSN Living. Email us your samples and contact info.
Photo: This April 2013 photo released by Sesame Workshop shows Puerto Rican actor Ismael Cruz Cordova, 26, of "Sesame Street," posing with muppets Rosita, left, and Elmo in New York. (AP Photo/Sesame Workshop, Gil Vaknin)
News, stories, tips and laughs for moms & dads
I am probably not the first to tell you this: Kids come with lots of stuff. Even if you try to be as minimal as possible, the little creatures require an awful lot to keep things running smoothly. Here's a master-plan slideshow of ways to cut corners on space in every room to accommodate all the things that come along with kids.
You never know for certain what type of parent you'll be until you've actually become one and your parenting style, as it becomes evident, may surprise you. Here are 4 parenting books to help you figure it all out.
Sunshine! Camping! Pool parties! BBQs! The sunny season is here and to help you make the most of it, we've hand-picked 7 great products to make this summer the best your family has ever had. Click through for our list to inspire your sunny day fun. From our sponsor: Walmart
We all love a picnic. But do one quick search for 'picnic ideas' on Pinterest and you're instantly teleported into a land of overachieving home chefs clearly looking for their big break on Food Network. Well, never mind that, we say. Scratch the 25-ingredient recipes and the incessant trips to the craft store for that perfect tablescape. Here are 5 truly simple picnic ideas that will look great, taste great, and make you feel like the winner you are! From our sponsor: Walmart
Admit it — you do these things, too! And that's OK. But maybe — just maybe — it's time to think about changing things up a little bit, for the sake of your sanity, your relationship with your kids, and because life's too short.
We asked veterinary experts and readers which breeds they think and if it is OK to shave longhaired pets in the summer.
Celeb moms post photos to show off their weight loss, but then they undermine their progress in the captions.
Kriste Lewis was inspired by her kidney disease to try out
Hittin' the road, moms and dads? Plan for these five things to happen...
Who knew parenting would make you feel so dumb?
Bob King, 68, found himself stuck
Witnesses now say they were helping mom, who was on the scene