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It took years of learning her craft for Megan Piphus Peace to land the role of Gabrielle on Sesame Street. The puppeteer met with kids at a Your Hot Job career event. Here’s what she had to say.
I started ventriloquism and puppetry when I was 10. I’d watch other ventriloquists and puppeteers. When I saw them tell stories with their puppets and bring them to life, my imagination ran wild. I imagined myself being able to talk to puppet characters. I got VHS tapes from the library and taught myself how to talk without moving my lips.
I got a puppet and took it to school, and had my first performance. I was inspired by the spark in children’s eyes. I learned that I could teach them anything with a puppet. That’s why I always include a message in my performances, usually about character values, like perseverance , honesty, and respect. That became my passion.
A Puppeteer’s Path
I attended Vanderbilt University, in Tennessee, on a scholarship. Even while I was studying economics—I loved math—I never stopped performing with puppets. In my junior year, I auditioned for America’s Got Talent. I made it all the way to the boot camp in Las Vegas, Nevada.
After that experience, I thought I would be able to go full-time in entertainment. But I had to work for several years in real estate. I kept practicing puppetry and never gave up. In 2017, I took a chance. I wrote a letter to the Jim Henson Company, explaining why I love puppetry and ventriloquism. I included a reel of my performance.
In March 2020, I got an email from Sesame Street. They said that because of the pandemic, they had extra time to go through applications. They asked if I’d be willing to try out. So I trained in Muppet-style puppetry for a year. In September 2021, I became the first Black woman puppeteer on Sesame Street.
Until I made it to Sesame Street, I kept practicing. I kept dreaming, never knowing what the outcome would be. I always told myself, “Tomorrow, I will be a better puppeteer. The day after tomorrow, I will be better than ever. Someday, I will be the best me that I can be.” And now, I get to inspire young girls like me, when I was 10.
We all have unique gifts. Keep dreaming, and keep working hard. The right door will open for you, just like the door of Sesame Street opened for me.