Before joining a new adventure in Middle Earth on The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, actor Ismael Cruz Córdova was paving his way in the entertainment industry along a different kind of path.
In 2013, Córdova landed a role on the long-running and award-winning children’s TV show Sesame Street. For 12 episodes, Córdova played the role of Mando, a Latine writer and techie who would interact with kids and Muppets on the series by teaching them how to rhyme in Spanish and lessons about identity and Latine traditions.
In one Sesame Street episode, Córdova goes over a list of words that rhyme with his character’s name. “How about hilando?” a bilingual Muppet named Rosita asks. Córdova then starts singing a song about other words that rhyme with his name. “Here’s one word that rhymes with Mondo/And that word is cantando.” Other words that work: bailando, jugando and saltando.
In another episode, Córdova sings a song with a young Black Muppet named Segi about how much he loves his hair.
“My first experience with television was in Puerto Rico [where] I only spoke Spanish,” Córdova told Good Morning America when he was first cast. “I learned to speak English [by] watching [Sesame Street].”
Over the years, Córdova has been one of a handful of Latine actors to share their talents on the series. Others have included Sonia Manzano, Raúl Juliá, Gabriela Rose Reagan, Alexis Cruz, Jaime Sánchez, Carlo Alban, Desiree Casado, and Emilio Delgado, who passed away earlier this year.
“Sesame Street is a place to have diversity where kids can see themselves on the screen,” Ismael Cruz Córdova said. “It’s so important to bring that culture and perspective to a new generation of Americans.”