The long-running children’s educational program “Sesame Street” is still making history. After 53 years on air, the show hired its first Black female puppeteer: Megan Piphus Peace.
The Vanderbilt University graduate has been with the show since 2020. She became a trailblazing puppeteer when her muppet Gabrielle, a 6-year-old Black girl, was officially added to the show last September. “I would have cried like a baby on the 123 steps if they had told me beforehand. The sets of ‘Sesame Street’ are like walking into a fantasy. To be there is really something,” Peace told Because of Them We Can in an interview shared on social Thursday (Sept. 8).
Peace got her start in the world of puppetry when she was just 10 years old. After attending a puppetry conference, she fell in love with ventriloquism. By the time she was 15, Peace was featured on “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” where her blossoming skillset was shared with the world for the first time. While attending college, she became known as the Vanderbilt Ventriloquist and went on to appear on “The Jay Leno Show” and “America’s Got Talent.”
“What I consider the magic of ventriloquism is getting to share that experience with someone else and have them believe that our conversations are real. I realized what an impact the writing could have on the audience, and that every age could learn something from the show. From then on, my goal was to have a theme woven into every performance,” Peace explained about her approach to her craft.
In 2017, she submitted her first audition tape to “Sesame Street.” Mike Vogel, the show’s puppet captain and voice of Big Bird, reached out to her, but not with a job offer. Instead, he told her to enroll in their virtual muppet-style puppetry class. She did, and it paid dividends when she landed the job.
“It takes time to go through video submissions, but once we do, we earmark people that we’d like to invite to a workshop where we see their skills as a puppeteer and actor in person. Zoom is not an ideal way to conduct a workshop, but we made the best of it and Megan was game to learn,” said Vogel. He added that “Megan was our choice from the beginning. She already had lip sync skills from her abilities as a ventriloquist.” See her skills in action in the video below.