Kathleen Kim is an actress, TV producer, and puppeteer who performs the role of Ji-Young, the first Asian-American Muppet character on Sesame Street, and Elena, Julia’s mother.
Kim was working behind the camera as a story producer in reality television when her husband encouraged her to take a “puppetry for comedy improv” class. The class reignited Kim’s passion for an art form she had loved all her life, prompting her to pursue more puppetry opportunities. In 2014, she was accepted into a Sesame Puppetry Workshop, where she met and trained with some of the industry’s top puppeteers. Between Sesame Street’s seasons 46 through 48, Kim was brought on as a puppetry assistant and to attend additional workshops. Then, in 2017, she was one of four new performers invited to join Sesame Street’s first Mentorship Program in an effort to train the next generation of puppeteers. Kim received her first on-screen Sesame Street credit for the 2016 TV movie Once Upon for Once Upon a Sesame Street Christmas and was a consulting producer for “See Us Coming Together,” the 2021 special that introduced the character of Ji-Young and celebrated AAPI culture as part of the show’s commitment to teaching racial literacy.
Some of her other puppetry credits include Helpsters on Apple TV+ (2019), A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (2019), the role of Toe-Knee in Awkwafina is Nora from Queens (2020), SNL, and The Today Show. Kim attended Brooklyn College, where she studied TV/Radio and Children’s Studies. She grew up between Manhattan and Long Island and currently resides with her family in Queens.