Muppeteer, Sesame Street
On Thanksgiving 2021, Kathleen Kim made history: She performed Sesame Street’s first-ever Asian American muppet—Ji-Young, a seven-year-old Korean American girl. Ji-Young made her debut during a special called Sesame Street: See Us Coming Together.
“To be able to be the representation that I did not have as a kid is…you can’t put words to it,” Kim told NextShark, during a behind-the-scenes interview while she was being filmed meeting the finished Ji-Young muppet for the first time. This representation is so important, she says, because it will help kids be able to see themselves in media and give them a sense of belonging.
Prior to being the muppeteer behind Ji-Young, Kim was the muppeteer for Elena on Sesame Street and plays Toeknee in Awkwafina Is Nora From Queens.
“As a first-generation American kid, I learned so much from Sesame Street, including English. It made me feel seen, spoke to me on my level, and inspired my imagination. For me, Sesame Street was always a place of possibility. My dream was always to work in kids television, but I didn’t become a puppeteer until I was in my 30’s. Ji-Young has become so important to the Asian American community, I don’t think I’ll ever find the words to express what that means to me. The love and support from our young audience and Asian-American adults alike has been utterly overwhelming. My hope is that future generations of kids won’t find anything newsworthy about seeing themselves represented on their favorite show.”