“My children and just about every child in America has grown up learning their ABC’s from the iconic character of “Maria,” on Sesame Street played by Sonia Manzano,”said Bob Mauro, President, NATAS. “Sonia not only brought the life events of marriage, having a baby, and being a mother to viewers young and old, she also brought a seldom-seen diversity, a Latin role-model, unlike anything on television at the time. She is one of the most beloved female performers in the history of Sesame Street, and the National Academy is proud to be honoring her with our prestigious Emmy Award for Lifetime Achievement.”
"Honoring Sonia Manzano has a special meaning for me - as we both started our professional careers doing the play, Godspell, though in different casts when we were practically children," said David Michaels, SVP, Daytime (NATAS). "Her talent both in front of the camera and as a writer, bringing the themes of diversity to a national audience on Sesame Street, is an extraordinary achievement worthy of this well-earned recognition!"
Manzano will be joining an illustrious group of previous Lifetime Achievement Honorees including, Betty White, Oprah Winfrey, Barbara Walters, Merv Griffin, Dick Clark, Bob Barker, Alex Trebek and many others.
Sonia Manzano (Maria) is a first generation Puerto Rican who has touched the lives of millions of parents and children as "Maria" on Sesame Street and helped them grow smarter, stronger and kinder.
Manzano 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, where she began her career as an actress. She came to New York from Carnegie Mellon University to star in the original production of the off-Broadway show Godspell. Manzano joined Sesame Street in 1971 and holds 15 Emmy Awards for her previous work as part of the Sesame Street writing staff.
Manzano has performed on the New York stage in The Vagina Monologues, The Exonerated and Love, Loss and What I Wore. She has written for the Peabody Award-winning children's series, Little Bill, and her 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. Her second book, A Box Full of Kittens, was published in 2007. Manzano’s first young adult novel The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano, published by Scholastic in 2012, was chosen as a Pura Belpre Honor Book. A Christmas picture book, Miracle on 133rd Street was released September 2015. Her memoir Becoming Maria: Love and Chaos in the South Bronx was published September 2015 as well.
Manzano received the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Award in Washington, DC and the Hispanic Heritage Award for Education in 2003. She is proud to have been inducted into the Bronx Hall of Fame in 2004. She received an honorary doctorate in fine arts from Notre Dame University in 2005. She was voted one of the most influential Hispanics by People Magazine en Español (February 2007) and Ballet Hispanico awarded her their Inspiration Award in April 2011. She received the New York Women in Film and Television Muse award for outstanding vision and achievement in December 2013. Manzano was twice nominated for an Emmy Award as Outstanding Performer in a Children's Series.
She has served on the March of Dimes board, the board of the George Foster Peabody Awards and the board of Symphony Space, a New York City theatrical institution. Manzano also volunteers for The Bronx River Alliance, an organization dedicated to cleaning up the Bronx River in the South Bronx. She also volunteers to make a The Bronx Children’s Museum a reality.
The Daytime Emmy Awards recognize outstanding achievement in all fields of daytime television production and are presented to individuals and programs broadcast from 2:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m. during the 2015 calendar year.