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Yvonne Condes is the Editor and co-Founder of MomsLA.com. She is a Los Angeles mom of two, a former newspaper reporter, and occasional marathoner (which means she did two races and is still talking about it). She writes about keeping her Latino culture alive with her two boys and keeping herself alive when they are hiking, biking, or camping. She also writes for YvonneinLA, Tecca, CBS Los Angeles, and makes videos on MomLA’s YouTube Channel.

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Sesame Street’s New Latino Character Plus 7 Latino Role Models

By Yvonne Condes |

Ismael Cruz Codova and RositaI can count the number of Latino role models on television on one hand. There was Erik Estrada on Chips, and Sonia Manzano and Emilio Delgado (Maria and Luis) from Sesame Street and of course Rita Moreno on Electric Company. Those were the only Latino role models television had to offer when I was a kid.  They were great, but there weren’t that many.

Starting in the Fall, Ismael Cruz Cordova will join the growing number of Hispanics on television when he becomes Sesame Street’s first Latino cast member that has been added since 1971.  He’ll play Armando, a bilingual poet and singer who will share his poetry skills with Rosita, the show’s Latina Muppet that was added to the show in 1993. I was able to interview Cordova and Rosita from Sesame Street at the PBS Annual Meeting last month.

From what I’ve seen of Cordova, he will be an amazing role model for kids and young adults. The actor and singer was picked after Sesame Street held its first ever open casting call in search of a bilingual character for the show. They wanted the right person, not necessarily a male or female from a specific Latino culture.

Cordova wanted to be part of the show because it had such a huge impact on him as a child. He grew up without a lot of money in a rural area of Puerto Rico where illiteracy was not uncommon. He felt disenfranchised. “You don’t really grow up with the notion that you have a voice,” he said. Sesame Street was the first place on television where he saw people that looked like him and that’s so important for kids to see themselves represented on television. “I felt like I mattered.”

He grew up with the show and credits it with helping teach him English. He was a nationally ranked swimmer in Puerto Rico and got into a private high school. For him “swimming was the bridge to the upper class.” He discovered performing and knew he wanted to be an actor. He described it as what many people feel when they’ve met their mate, the feeling of being accepted. After high school he went to NYU as a transfer student and later went on to work on off Broadway plays and guest star on “The Good Wife.”

Performing isn’t just about being on stage for him, it’s also been a tool for advocacy and social change. Cordova doesn’t take his role on Sesame Street lightly.

From everything I heard from him and read about him after, I think he will be an amazing addition to the show (plus he sings and dances!). Here are a few other Latino role models on television and in the media who are doing great things.

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Sesame Street’s New Latino Character Plus 7 Latino Role Models

Eva Longoria

Yes, she’s known for being a Desperate Housewife, but her documentary Latinos Living the American Dream was a thoughtful love letter to hard working Latino Families. She also produced the documentary The Harvest/La Cosecha: The Children Who Feed America about migrant children foregoing school to work on farms with their parents. Her foundation helps Latina students and entrepreneurs reach their potential. She’s getting a lot of flack right now for being the Executive Producer of the Lifetime Show “Devious Maids,” a nighttime soap about 5 maids working in Beverly Hills. It looks campy and fun to me, but I’ll reserve judgment until I see it.

DisclosureI interviewed Cruz Cordova as part of my role as a PBS Kids VIP (Very Important Parent) at the PBS Annual Meeting. I was provided transportation and lodging but was not compensated. All opinions are my own.

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About Yvonne Condes

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Yvonne Condes

Yvonne Condes is the Editor and co-Founder of MomsLA.com. She is a Los Angeles mom of two, a former newspaper reporter, and occasional marathoner (which means she did two races and is still talking about it). She writes about keeping her Latino culture alive with her two boys and keeping herself alive when they are hiking, biking, or camping. Read bio and latest posts → Read Yvonne's latest posts →

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One thought on “Sesame Street’s New Latino Character Plus 7 Latino Role Models

  1. Monique Frausto says:

    I love Sesame Street!!! I agree with all your role models…except one. LOL…cause he was a little rude to me once. hahaha…

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