"Maria", Sesame Street
Sonia Manzano (Maria) is a first-generation American of Latino descent who has affected the lives of millions of parents and children since the 1970s, when she was offered an opportunity play "Maria" on Sesame Street.
Sonia was raised in the South Bronx where her involvement in the arts was inspired by teachers who encouraged her to audition for the High School of Performing Arts. She was accepted there and began her career as an actress. A scholarship took her to Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh, and in her junior year, she came to New York to star in the original production of the off-Broadway show Godspell. Within a year Sonia joined the production of Sesame Street where she eventually began writing scripts for the series. Sonia has 15 Emmy Awards to date as part of the Sesame Street writing staff.
Sonia has performed on the New York stage, in the critically acclaimed theater pieces The Vagina Monologues and The Exonerated. She has written for the Peabody Award winning children's series, Little Bill, and has written a parenting column for the Sesame Workshop web site called "Talking Out Loud." Sonia's children's book, No Dogs Allowed, published by Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing in 2004, was selected by the General Mills initiative Spoonfuls of Stories. It has been turned into a children's musical, with productions at the Actor's Playhouse, in Coral Gables, Florida. Her second book A Box Full Of Kittens was published in 2007.
Sonia has received The Congressional Hispanic Caucus Award in Washington DC, and the Hispanic Heritage Award for Education in 2003. She received an honorary doctorate in fine arts from Notre Dame University in 2005. Closer to home, she is proud to have been inducted into the Bronx Hall of Fame in 2004. She was voted one of the most influential Hispanics by People Magazine en Espa?ol (February 2007).
She was twice nominated for an Emmy Award as Outstanding Performer in a Children's Series. She has served on the March of Dimes Board, and the board of the George Foster Peabody Awards and the board of Symphony Space, a New York City theatrical institution.