'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
You're cold-hearted? We'll take care of that for you...read on.
This kid despises poetry and he's not afraid to let you know.
I used to be one of those moms who thought, 'who on earth would bring their child to an event like that?' and then I had a son. Here's why you might become a convert, too.
Take a look at your house for these telltale signs that a cat is running the show.
Check out this list of requirements you should meet before getting a new puppy or adult dog.
Virtually everything you need to know about relationships, you learned in nursery school: Treat people as you want to be treated, clean up after yourself, and don’t be a know-it-all.
Here are our experts' best tips for how to be a positive role model for your kids so that they grow up healthy, strong and confident about the way they look.
Can you relate?
Much like their famous owners, these pooches live a fabulous life. Some are rescues, others purebred, but one thing is certain – these dogs play an important part in their famous parents' lives. Can you guess who owns each of these dogs?
We captured a frame-by-frame look just for you.
Two controversial science projects resembled weapons, school officials said.
Make the most of the summer with these family-oriented activities!