Meet TJ, Sesame Street’s first-ever Filipino-American muppet

There’s a new kid on the “Sesame Street” block, and he’s ready to rock the boat, or should we say, ride the jeepney! Meet TJ, the very first Filipino-American muppet to strut his stuff down the iconic street. Following in the footsteps of Ji-Young, another trailblazing Asian American character, TJ is making his mark, and boy, does he have stories to tell.

TJ made his grand debut on a sunny Sunday, diving headfirst into the wonderful world of words. With a little help from Kal Penn, our favorite fuzzy monster, Grover, and Ji-Young, TJ learned all about the power of “confidence”.

You know what’s really cool about TJ? He’s not just playing around on Sesame Street, he’s also learning Tagalog, the language of his Filipino family. That’s right, he’s not just a puppet, he’s a polyglot-in-training! But don’t worry, if he stumbles on a tricky word, his “Lola” (that’s grandma in Tagalog) is always there to lend a helping hand.

The mastermind behind TJ’s vibrant character design is none other than Bobby Pontillas, a Filipino American artist and animator. His creations come to life with the expert puppeteering of Yinan Shentu. Pontillas drew inspiration from his buddies, Max and Mateo, to give TJ his unique style. “I had the amazing opportunity to work with the geniuses at the Sesame Workshop to create a Filipino muppet for @sesamestreet,” Pontillas said.

Pontillas couldn’t contain his excitement when he introduced TJ to the world, and frankly, we can’t either. “Meet TJ!” he exclaimed, sharing sketches of our new Filipino friend. Shentu also joined in the celebration, sharing a sneak peek behind the scenes of TJ’s first romp on “Sesame Street”.


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A post shared by Yinan Shentu (@aznshents)

“Can you tell me how to get to Sesame Street?” Well, we can certainly tell you where to find a piece of the Filipino culture! Thanks to TJ, kids all over the world will get to learn and love the rich Filipino culture. Rosemary Espina Palcios, the director of talent outreach at “Sesame Street,” is just as thrilled as we are about TJ’s arrival.

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