“Sesame Street” introduced its first Filipino American muppet on Sunday as part of a segment about showing confidence.
The new character, named TJ, was featured alongside actor Kal Penn and Ji-Young, the show’s first Asian American muppet. In his debut, TJ shared an example in which support from his family had boosted his confidence.
“I’m learning Tagalog. It’s a language my Filipino family speaks. And I have confidence because I can always ask my lola for help when I don’t know a word,” TJ says, using the Tagalog word for grandmother.
TJ, played by voice actor and puppeteer Yinan Shentu, is the brainchild of Filipino American animator Bobby Pontillas.
TJ joins another history-making muppet Ji-Young, a 7-year-old Korean American skateboarder and guitar shredder, in 2021. Ji-Young, performed by puppeteer Kathleen Kim, in part helped kids process and discuss the concept of anti-Asian racism.