"Maria" on Sesame Street & Author
For over 30 years, Sonia Manzano inspired, educated, and delighted children and families as "Maria" on Sesame Street. Named among the “25 Greatest Latino Role Models Ever” by Latina Magazine, Manzano broke ground as one of the first Hispanic characters on national television. Throughout her career, she has continued to contribute to enriching diversity on television, on the stage, and in the educational realm. Read More >
Diversity in TV
The Responsibility of Children's TV
WJCT Cathedral Arts Project
In this presentation based on her book, The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano, speaker Sonia Manzano explores the impact that the Civil Rights Movement had on the Hispanic community. She examines how growing feelings of self worth in both the African American and Latino communities gave rise to social programs like Head Start and the United Farm Workers, as well as educational TV programs like Sesame Street. Manzano gives her personal take on how the whole movement made Latinos examine racial prejudices in their own groups and sadly, in their own families.
In this presentation based on her new book, Becoming Maria: Love and Chaos in the South Bronx, Manzano shares the personal tale of the struggles she faced coming from a poor Puerto Rican family to eventually becoming one of the most influential Latinas in television. This poignant and inspirational story is told with Manzano’s signature humor and wit, making this a memorable presentation for parents and children alike.
A television writer as well as a children’s and young adult’s book writer, Manzano faced many challenges writing across all mediums. From writing for Sesame Street and Pulitzer Prize winning show Little Bill to writing the books No Dogs Allowed, a Box Full of Kittens, and the inspirational The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano, Manzano shares her experience and insight on how to inspire and excite children through the written word.
Manzano’s over forty years on Sesame Street has afforded her a unique look at how the landscape of children’s television has changed. She will share thoughts from the way children are taught cognitive skills, to the way Latinos are depicted, to how 9/11 has affected children’s educational curriculum on Sesame Street. This informative presentation gives audiences a rare opportunity to learn from one of the most knowledgeable people in children’s television.
"[Her] presentation was entertaining, inspiring, provocative and ultimately a reminder of the benefit of resilient hope and courage. I am grateful that [she] was able to bring [her] story to our campus and that our students and other participants in the conference were able to hear [her] speak. We all will carry memories of [her] story with us, and we will find in [her] story a source of hope and inspiration in times of challenge."
"Sonia was a pure delight! Her speech resonated with the kids, parents and donors in the room but more than anything with our educators. Her talk with our kids prior to the event was genuine and she gave them great pointers as they prepared to speak to an audience of 650. We were very happy to have her!"
"Sonia was wonderful! It was evident from the reactions of our guests that she had been a great draw. They loved sharing their memories of Sesame Street with her and the impact they felt it had on their children. Sonia was gracious and very accommodating when people wanted to have their photo taken with her. She helped to make our luncheon one of the most successful ever!"
"Outstanding! Sonia was great, we had about 150 at the evening presentation. I think the highlights were her reading to the preschoolers and talking to the students. Thank you for all of your help on it!"
"We would like to thank you for being a dynamic and inspirational keynote speaker. You set the stage for libraries to reflect upon the importance of true and honest portrayals of communities of color and popular culture. We were inspired by your cutting-edge work in bringing the Latino and Nuyorican experience to life on Sesame Street. Thank you for sharing your humor, passion, and experience with us."
"We very much enjoyed having Ms. Manzano at Indiana University. She was an engaging speaker and a lot of fun. The Sesame Street clips went over very well. Thank you for all of your help with making it a success."
"She was fantastic!!!!!! Thanks so much for recommending her. She told me that she'd hit a home run for us and she definitely did. I appreciate all you did to make it possible to bring her to our conference."