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Sonia Manzano      

"Maria" on Sesame Street & Author

For over 30 years, Sonia Manzano inspired, educated, and delighted children and families as "Maria" on Sesame Street. Named among the “25 Greatest Latino Role Models Ever” by Latina Magazine, Manzano broke ground as one of the first Hispanic characters on national television. Throughout her career, she has continued to contribute to enriching diversity on television, on the stage, and in the educational realm. A first generation America of Latin descent, Manzano’s tale is one of perseverance and courage as she overcame countless obstacles to become one of the most influential Latinas in television.

Sonia Manzano knows a thing or two about determination. Now a twice nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Performer in a Children's Series, Manzano didn’t have a lot of resources as a child growing up in the South Bronx. Immensely talented, Sonia never gave up, and within a year of graduating college, Manzano found herself on Sesame Street. An equally impressive and captivating stage actress, Manzano has appeared on stage in several critically acclaimed theater performances, including The Vagina Monologues,” “The Exonerated,” and “Love, Loss, and What I Wore.”

An award winning television writer and children’s book author, Manzano is a master storyteller. She won 15 Emmys as part of the Sesame Street writing team, and also wrote for the Peabody Award-winning children's series Little Bill. Continuing to inspire children off screen, Manzano’s children’s book, No Dogs Allowed, was selected by the General Mills initiative "Spoonfuls of Stories" to become a children’s musical to encourage childhood literacy. Her first young adult novel, The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano, examines the Latino community during the Civil Rights Movement through the eyes of a young girl coming of age in the midst of social upheaval in Spanish Harlem in 1969. As good a writer for parents as she is children, Manzano has also written a parenting column for the Sesame Workshop website called “Talking Out Loud.”

A staunch advocate for education, Manzano shares her extraordinary talent to help children to succeed. A fearless trailblazer, Manzano opened the doors for Latinas on screen. Infusing humor and charm into her presentations, Manzano inspires audiences with her passion, strength and insight into success. Whether speaking out for literacy, diversity, or addressing the issues children face in our media saturated life, she is a familiar, engaging voice that brings new light to her roles and to our lives.

Speech Topics

Building Resilient Children the Sesame Street Way

1,2 3, Who Let Latinos on TV

From the South Bronx to Sesame Street

Would Elmo Make a Good Board Member?

Can Muppets Read?

Coping with Alzheimers

Latinos & The Civil Rights Movement

In this presentation based on her new book, The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano, speaker Sonia Manzano explores the impact that the Civil Rights Movement had on the Hispanic community. She examines how growing feelings of self worth in both the African American and Latino communities gave rise to social programs like Head Start and the United Farm Workers, as well as educational TV programs like Sesame Street. Manzano gives her personal take on how the whole movement made Latinos examine racial prejudices in their own groups and sadly, in their own families.

From the South Bronx to Sesame Street (A Puerto Rican Story)

In this presentation based on her new book, The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano, speaker Sonia A personal tale of the struggles Manzano faced coming from a poor Puerto Rican family to eventually becoming one of the most influential Latinas in television. Based on her memoir, this poignant and inspirational story is told with Manzano’s signature humor and wit, making this a memorable presentation for parents and children alike.

Writing For Children

A television writer as well as a children’s and young adult’s book writer, Manzano faced many challenges writing across all mediums. From writing for Sesame Street and Pulitzer Prize winning show Little Bill to writing the books No Dogs Allowed, a Box Full of Kittens, and the inspirational The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano, Manzano shares her experience and insight on how to inspire and excite children through the written word.

Children and Television

Manzano’s over forty years on Sesame Street has afforded her a unique look at how the landscape of children’s television has changed. She will share thoughts from the way children are taught cognitive skills, to the way Latinos are depicted, to how 9/11 has affected children’s educational curriculum on Sesame Street. This informative presentation gives audiences a rare opportunity to learn from one of the most knowledgeable people in children’s television.


'Sesame Street' losing Sonia Manzano -

It's the end of an era on Sesame Street. Sonia Manzano, who has played shop owner Maria on the PBS series, has announced that she is retiring.

'Sesame Street': After 45 Years, Sonia Manzano to Leave Show ...

Actress Sonia Manzano, who plays Maria Rodriquez on the children's television show "Sesame Street," and the muppet Grover launch the new "Super Grover" ...

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