Get ready to meet a new face in the neighborhood! Julia, a new muppet with autism, is set to join the cast of Sesame Street in April.
The news was announced yesterday on 60 Minutes, where Julia, Big Bird, Elmo and Abby Cadabby spoke with reporter Lesley Stahl. Big Bird described how nervous Julia was to meet him and how he mistook her actions.
“I thought that maybe she didn’t like me,” said the big yellow star.
But, Elmo stepped in to explain Julia’s actions to Big Bird.
“We had to explain to Big Bird that Julia likes Big Bird. It’s just that Julia has autism. So sometimes it takes her a little longer to do things. We’re pretty good at understanding people. We live with a grouch,” said Elmo.
Julia, a cute redhead who loves to sing and play with her doll, first appeared in an online book in 2015 called Sesame Street and Autism: See the Amazing in All Children, as reported by Entertainment Weekly. They even have their own website that provides free autism resources for parents (click here to find the materials). Julia’s appearance online was so successful that Sesame Street decided to bring her onto the show.
Actress and Autism Avocate Holly Robinson Peete tweeted out her support for Julia. Peete’s father was the original Gordon on the children’s show and has since passed away. But his grandson, and Holly’s son RJ, 19, has autism and seeing the disease represented on television is encouraging and would have made “Gordon” proud.
— Holly Robinson Peete (@hollyrpeete) March 20, 2017
The creative team worked with autism groups to accurately portray the character. Even Julia’s puppeteer’s son has autism, which makes it easier for her to manipulate Julia’s movements.
The official Sesame Street twitter tweeted out this video introducing Julia to fans all over the world. Check out the adorable new character as she sings along with her friend Abby Cadabby.
— Sesame Street (@sesamestreet) March 20, 2017
Sesame Street writer Christine Ferraro sees big things for Julia’s future, but only really wants one thing.
“I would love her to be not Julia, the kid on Sesame Street who has autism. I would like her to be just Julia,” she said.
The special “Meet Julia” episode will air on HBO and PBS Kids on April 10th.