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Princeton High School grad makes history as Sesame Street's first Black female puppeteer

Megan and Gabrielle PhotoCredit_Zach Hyman.jpg
Posted at 8:28 PM, Mar 06, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-07 00:05:26-05

CINCINNATI — If you want to get to Sesame Street, try asking its newest resident. Megan Piphus Peace is the first Black female puppeteer on the hit children's show.

"Working on Sesame Street is literally like walking into a dream," Piphus Peace said.

Piphus Peace's dream took shape in Lincoln Heights as a way to contribute to a worship ministry at her father's church.

"There was a lady named Dorothy Smith and she taught at Vacation Bible School and would use puppets to teach the lessons," Piphus Peace said. "She printed out these shirts for us that said Zion's anointed puppets. So we had t-shirts before we knew how to do puppetry."

After some training and a bit of ambition, it became Piphus Peace's thing. She honed in her craft from elementary school all the way up to graduation day at Princeton High School.

"My teachers, specifically the principal, ran up on me in the hallway and said, 'Megan, you know you're doing your speech with the puppet, right,'" she said. "So I became known as the valedictorian ventriloquist."

Now you might know her as Gabrielle, the spunky and sassy 6-year-old on Sesame Street.

"Gabrielle is super confident in who she is, and she loves her community and everyone in it," she said "But also what's special about Gabrielle is that she's a Black girl. So that means that she has a very different experience of her world on Sesame Street."

Whether Gabrielle is talking to her friends about the family mac and cheese recipe or recounting the trying process of "wash day," Piphus Peace is allowing little Black girls to see more of themselves in a popular TV show.

"I would encourage young girls to always have an openness to learning something new, even if there is no one that looks like you that does it," said Piphus Peace. "If you have the heart to learn and the drive, you could be the first."

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