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WSRE Public Square Speakers Series presents Sonia Manzano on Sept. 13

Posted by Mary Riker on

PENSACOLA, Fla., July 19, 2016—Sonia Manzano has affected millions of parents and children since 1971 when she joined the cast of “Sesame Street,” where 44 years as Maria—while also an Emmy Award-winning writer for the show—afforded her a unique look at how children’s television has evolved. The WSRE Public Square Speakers Series will host a free lecture by Manzano about educational children’s television on Tuesday, Sept. 13, 7 p.m. in WSRE’s Jean & Paul Amos Performance Studio. Admission is free.

Manzano retired from “Sesame Street” last year as one of its most recognizable faces and a role model for generations of young girls and women. She had won 15 Emmy Awards for her writing on the show and was nominated twice for her role as Maria. In May, the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences honored her with the Emmy for Lifetime Achievement.

Raised in the South Bronx, her acting career was inspired by teachers who encouraged her to audition for the High School of the Performing Arts. That’s where she got her start, and while a junior on scholarship to Carnegie Mellon University, she starred in the original off-Broadway production of “Godspell.” Within a year, she joined the production of “Sesame Street,” where she eventually became the first leading Latina woman on TV and began writing scripts.

She also has written for the Peabody Award-winning children’s series, “Little Bill,” and for Sesame Workshop with the online parenting column, “Talking Out Loud.” Her 2004 children’s book, “No Dogs Allowed!,” was turned into a children’s musical and followed by “A Box Full of Kittens” in 2007. Other books include her first young adult novel, “The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano,” in 2014 and both her memoir, “Becoming Maria: Love and Chaos in the South Bronx,” and picture book, “Miracle on 133rd Street,” released in 2015.

This Public Square Speakers Series presentation from one of the most knowledgeable people in children’s television will include Manzano’s thoughts on the way children are taught cognitive skills, the impact of how children are depicted on television and how 9/11 affected children’s educational curriculum on “Sesame Street.”

This event is sponsored in-part by Gulf Power Company and has been scheduled in conjunction with WSRE’s participation in American Graduate—public media’s long-term commitment to supporting community-based solutions to help keep youth on the track to a high school diploma and beyond.

Admission is free. Reservations are encouraged and can be made at

Media Relations Contact:
Mary Riker