NPR reports the introduction of Julia brings the series its first new character in ten years. Three years in the making, Julia’s presence on the series is profound and enlightening as it continues Sesame Workshop’s learning initiatives for children. Other programs to expand the knowledge of varied life and situations include children with incarcerated parents, grieving families and dealing with economic changes in the household.
Julia was initially included as a playmate for Elmo and Abby Cadabby in Sesame’s 2015 Digital Storybook. The four-year-old has a special connection to Stacy Gordon, the veteran puppeteer taking on the role. Her son has a form of autism. “As the parent of a child with autism, I wished that it had come out years before, when my own child was at the Sesame Street age,” Gordon said. “There’s so many people that have given her what she is. I’m just hoping to bring her the heart.”
The character will be featured on two episodes of the latest season and expected to become a main character by April. Speaking with 60 Minutes, Christine Ferraro, a writer for Sesame Street, says the team worked closely with autism organizations to find the best way to portray Julia. “It’s tricky because autism is not one thing because it is different for every single person who has autism,” she said. Julia’s first time on the small screen will focus on her meeting Big Bird, who is confused when Julia doesn’t immediately respond to his welcome.
In addition to its traditional home on PBS, Julia will also be seen on HBO.
Find out more about the debut of Julia below.