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'Sesame Street' adds third Spanish-speaking character

Sesame Street characters are seen during the 40th anniversary street naming celebration in New York, November 9, 2009. REUTERS/Shannon Stapl
Sesame Street characters are seen during the 40th anniversary street naming celebration in New York, November 9, 2009. REUTERS/Shannon Stapl

(Reuters) - Children's television series "Sesame Street" said on Friday it was adding a third Spanish-speaking character to its cast and will put a special focus on Hispanic heritage in its upcoming season, in an acknowledgement of changing U.S. demographics.

Bilingual character Armando, who will be portrayed by 26-year-old Puerto Rico-born actor Ismael Cruz Cordova, will debut in September on the long-running series of people and puppets that airs on public broadcaster PBS.

"Like his character 'Mando,' Ismael represents a culturally fluid and deeply layered new generation of Hispanic-Americans," Carol-Lynn Parente, executive producer of "Sesame Street," said in a statement.

"He has a passion for creative expression and a warmth that comes right through the camera," Parente added.

"Sesame Street" previously added two bilingual Spanish-speaking actors and one bilingual puppet, Rosita. Puppet Ovejita, who only speaks Spanish, appears occasionally.

The United States is on a path to becoming a "majority minority" nation as minority babies topped 50 percent for the first time in 2011, with Hispanics the largest and fastest-growing minority group.

"Sesame Street," which is entering its 44th season, is produced by the non-profit Sesame Workshop in New York.

(Reporting by Eric Kelsey; Editing by Piya Sinha-Roy and Vicki Allen)

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