A report by Shayne Rodríguez Thompson for HipLatina.
PBS Kids is getting ready to launch a brand-new animated series for kids that is all about Latinx representation. Sesame Street icon Sonia Manzano developed Alma’s Way all about a 6-year-old Puerto Rican girl growing up in the Bronx, New York. The series is based on Manzano’s own upbringing, and will feature a theme song co-written and co-produced by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Bill Sherman, who has worked on In The Heights, Hamilton and Sesame Street. The main character is six-year-old Alma Rivera, who learns to think critically as she encounters various situations in her diverse Bronx neighborhood.
While the series is designed to help young children to be thinkers and problem-solvers, there’s also a major focus on Latino culture represented in each episode. Whether it’s the food, the music or some other aspect of the culture, it is completely integrated into the series. “As Alma learns in every episode to think for herself, kids at home will find their own voice and the power to think things through, too!,” a post on the series official Instagram account reads, describing what viewers can expect from the show.
Manzano is best known for playing for Maria on the iconic American TV series Sesame Street, which ran on PBS for decades before making the move to HBO in 2015. Maria was one of the very first Latino characters on American television, and Manzano won an Emmy Lifetime Achievement Award for her work on the series back in 2016. She hopes that Alma’s Way will help a new generation of Latino kids, “see themselves authentically represented on-screen,” and share a bit of the Latinx experience in America with a wider audience, she said in a press release.
Alma’s Way is geared toward children between the ages of 4 and 6, and features a beautifully diverse cast of characters, even within Alma’s own family unit, which includes her mother, father, brother and abuelo. It also showcases the various complexions people of Puerto Rican descent come in which is so significant considering the lack of awareness that we come in ALL shades.
Alma’s Way isn’t just about a Puerto Rican girl either, there’s tons of Latinx representation behind the scenes as well. The series is written by Jorge Aguirre who is Colombian-American and has worked on shows like Dora the Explorer and Nina’s World, and the voice of Alma is performed by eight-year-old actor Summer Rose Castillo, who is actually Puerto Rican and growing up in the Bronx herself. We can’t wait to check it out with our own kiddos on PBS Kids on October 4.