‘Sesame Street’ adds an Indian American characterMarch 26th, 2008 - 7:05 pm ICT by admin
New York, March 26 (IANS) “Sesame Street”, the popular children’s television series, has added an Indian-American character to its cast of muppets and humans. An Indian American actress, Nitya Vidyasagar, has bagged the role of Leela, who runs the local laundromat on the award-winning Sony Pictures Family Entertainment Group (PBS kids) show produced by the New York-based Sesame Workshop.
Vidyasagar, a New Yorker, is currently taping the 39th season of the show, which will start airing in August. “I’ve shot three or so episodes,” Vidyasagar told India West, an ethnic Indian weekly in California.
Elements from Leela’s cultural background and Indian holidays will make their way to “Sesame Street”, and Vidyasagar is collaborating with its writers to educate them about the Indian American experience.
The educative show has an Indian version titled “Galli Galli Sim Sim” in Hindi that was launched in 2006. It was aired on Doordarshan and Pogo. “Sesame Street” has local language editions in 120 countries.
The role of Leela was created by chance. Answering a casting call for a new character that said nothing of ethnicity, Vidyasagar made such a strong impression on the show’s producers that they were willing to create her role from scratch.
Vidyasagar said the natural and spontaneous mood of “Sesame Street” may seem improvised, but each episode is the product of many hours of research and consideration by child education experts.
Vidyasagar was brought up in Kolkata, Hyderabad and Bangalore before she moved with her family to the US at age 12.
Among the stage actress’ recent roles was that of a Sri Lankan research scientist in the off-Broadway comedy “Serendib” presented at the Ensemble Studio Theatre.
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