She grew up watching ‘Sesame Street.’ Then she made history as the show’s first Black female puppeteer


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By Harmeet Kaur, CNN

Peace's puppet Gabrielle on Sesame Street
Peace’s character Gabrielle (second from left) is a 6-year-old muppet who loves to sing and dance. (Richard Termine/Sesame Workshop)

Megan Piphus Peace has always found magic in puppets.

The self-trained ventriloquist and puppeteer grew up watching the sock puppets on “Lamb Chop’s Play-Along,” the hand puppets of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” and the muppets of “Sesame Street.” As a child, the characters seemed so alive, and it was only later that she learned what it took to create that sense of reality.

“Puppets allow us to enter the imagination of a child,” Piphus Peace told CNN. “You think of a child playing. Their toys can talk. Their cars can move. So you’re speaking their imaginative and creative language when you’re allowing a puppet to come to life.”

Ever since Piphus Peace discovered that puppetry could be an art form, it’s been a passion – one that she’s pursued throughout her life. These days, she’s the voice of 6-year-old Gabrielle on “Sesame Street,” and the first Black woman puppeteer in the show’s more than 50-year history.


In 2020, Piphus Peace said she was contacted by “Sesame Street” performers Matt Vogel and Martin Robinson, who asked if she’d be willing to learn the signature muppet-style puppetry of the show.

It was definitely an adjustment, Piphus Peace said. She was used to doing stage ventriloquism, which involved interacting with puppets without moving the lips. Muppet-style puppetry meant keeping the body out of the camera frame and using monitors to see how the puppets looked on screen.

Keep reading about Peace’s adjustment to working on Sesame Street.

From the screen to the White House, Black representation has increased.

More Black culture news.

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