Nashville woman is the first Black female puppeteer on ‘Sesame Street’

Though the show aired in 1969, it wasn’t until 2020 that the program had its first Black female puppeteer.
Nashville woman is Sesame Street's first Black female puppeteer
Published: Feb. 28, 2023 at 11:42 AM CST
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - The beloved children’s show ‘Sesame Street’ aired its first episode in 1969.

It wasn’t until 2020 that the program had its first Black female puppeteer, Megan Piphus.

Piphus said she was just 10 years old when she was first introduced to puppetry and ventriloquism by a woman at her church.

“I remember that experience so vividly of making children laugh and smile and also learning something. That became my passion. I really found it as a way for me to open up and to express myself in a different way.”

She appeared on national television throughout the years showcasing her ventriloquism skills.

It was in March of 2020 when Megan got the call from ‘Sesame Street’ for her to learn their style of puppeteering.

“I absolutely never made ‘Sesame Street’ a goal because it is the pinnacle of the art of puppetry,” said Piphus.

Megan’s character is a 6-year-old Black girl named Gabrielle.

Piphus said Gabrielle came at a time when racial injustice was making every headline.

She said ‘Sesame Street’ is able to break down complicated and sensitive topics that children can understand.

“We had the opportunity to respond on the George Floyd civil rights protest. That was my very first project.”

Piphus said the response from Black viewers has been a positive one.

“A woman posted a picture of her daughter next to Gabrielle. Her daughter was 6 years old and her name was Gabrielle and she had 2 puffs, just like Gabrielle. She just mentioned how joyous it made her daughter and made her feel special to see someone like her.”

Megan is also a wife and mother of two young boys who she hopes she’s inspiring with her very unique and historic career.

“I dream of making it work because I don’t want to just tell my boys to dream big, I want to show them how,” said Piphus.