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A new Latina heroine is set to hit PBS KIDS in 2021. Photo: PBS

Sonia Manzano returns to television with the animated series 'Alma's Way'

The New York-based Latino artist is behind the new children's series that aims to bring the diversity of Latino communities to children ages four to six.  

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Sonia Manzano, known for playing Maria on Sesame Street for more than 40 years and recognized by the Emmys in 2016 as one of the first important Latino characters on TV, is returning to the small screen.

According to a recent announcement from PBS KIDS, Manzano will return as part of a new animated series, Alma's Way.

The series is a more personal and pointed project, and the longtime actress and screenwriter has said she's poured her own memories of her youth with the intention of creating a new inspirational character for Latino children.

Alma's Way will be geared towards 4-6 year olds, and in 2D.

The series will land on PBS's various channels in 2021.

The press release also delved deeper into the character of Alma. 

She is a confident, six-year-old Puerto Rican girl who lives in the Bronx with her parents, her little brother, a cast of friends and a tight-knit community. Throughout her various journeys, Alma tries to be a heroine with humor and awareness that comes her creator.

Manzano herself was born in 1950 in New Jersey and raised in the South Bronx by parents from Puerto Rico. She later studied in Manhattan until 1971, when she started working at Sesame Street.

Recently, as a monologist, she also took part in The Exonerated and The Vagina Monologues

Each episode is 11 minutes long and the protagonist often breaks the fourth wall to speak directly to viewers to make them participate in her adventures with the different members of her community. The hope is that they can reflect the richness and diversity that extends through all 50 states.

Alma also shares her reflections and, most importantly, her emotions, offering a window to authentic cultural reflection. There are currently 40 confirmed episodes in production that explore aspects of Latino culture such as its festivals and celebrations, music, food and language. 

Manzano is executive producer of the show with Ellen Doherty, COO of the production company, who was equally enthusiastic about the public meeting Alma and seeing her solve their dilemmas. 

"The show is funny, warm, and relatable. We love how it showcases the diversity of New York City, too, and authentically reflects the cultures of all the characters.”

 Jorge Aguirre (Goldie & Bear) is the main writer and Popeline Studios is producing the animation. It is also scheduled to be released on platforms, along with several children's games, in English and Spanish.

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