While no one will ever be able to fill the void Sonia Manzano, aka Maria, left after retiring from Sesame Street in 2015, a new character will continue to put Latinas at the forefront. When the show returns for its 46th season on its new home on HBO, Cuban-American actress Suki Lopez will make her television debut. Lopez will play Nina, a bilingual Latina who will help the Sesame Street gang with their problems.
“Nina is a millennial, and she has a bunch of jobs,” she said to NBC. “So I guess she is like me. She is a babysitter for Elmo, and she works at the bike store and the Laundromat.”
Though she has only filmed one season, where she got to work with Gina Rodriguez, Lopez is hoping for a long-term stay on Sesame Street. Meanwhile, she is enrolled at The New School and is enjoying the ride.
“When we are filming, I can’t see the puppeteers, so I just relate to the characters,” she said. “It really changes my demeanor. I get a big smile, and it is very natural, it just happens. I see that with a lot of people. If you see the puppets at an event, people’s faces change. It is like a free pass to childhood for a moment, every time you see a Sesame Street character.”
Check out NBC’s feature on Lopez here, and learn more about her audition process and the actor that left her starstruck.
Sesame Street’s new season premieres January 16, 2016 on HBO and will play on PBS Kids this fall.