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Exclusive interview with ‘Sesame Street’s’ first Asian American muppet

Ji-Young, right, “Sesame Street’s” first Asian American muppet, is interviewed with fellow muppet Ernie on the set of the long-running children’s program in New York, Nov. 1, 2021. Ji-Young is Korean American and has two passions: rocking out on her electric guitar and skateboarding. (AP Photo / Noreen Nasir)

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AP race and ethnicity journalists Terry Tang and Noreen Nasir scored a timely and exclusive interview with the first ever Asian American muppet on “Sesame Street.”

Phoenix-based Tang had been watching for race-related news tied to the classic children’s television show, when Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit organization behind the show, reached out about giving AP the exclusive on their first ever Asian American muppet — a 7-year-old Korean American named Ji-Young.

Tang knew the story would resonate after a wave of attacks against Asian Americans and calls for greater Asian American and Pacific Islander representation, and she looked forward to writing “Ji-Young told The Associated Press.” She teamed up with New York-based video journalist Noreen Nasir, who also saw the cultural importance of the story as well as the potential to have fun telling it.

Nasir interviewed both Ji-Young and longtime “Sesame Street” favorite Ernie,being careful not to show the puppeteers,and snapped photos of the muppets. Then she and Tang interviewed Kathleen Kim,the Korean American puppeteer behind Ji-Young,about the impact of portraying a groundbreaking character.

Tang arranged for AP release the text story and photos exclusively at an hour when both audiences in the U.S. and Asia could wake up to the story,followed shortly by the video, generating strong interest from customers and readers.

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