Actor and Author Sonia Manzano Will Appear this Spring in the Creative Life Series

Sonia Manzano, in a purple sweater, leans in and smiles at a large, fuzzy, light blue Muppet
Sonia Manzano was Maria on Sesame Street for almost five decades.

ALBANY, N.Y. (March 29, 2022) — Sonia Manzano, the actor and author who played Maria for nearly five decades on Sesame Street will be the guest in this spring’s edition of The Creative Life: A Conversation Series at UAlbany, appearing at the Performing Arts Center (PAC) at 4 p.m. Saturday, April 30.

The Creative Life series is a major arts initiative of the University Art Museum, New York State Writers Institute and UAlbany Performing Arts Center in conjunction with WAMC Public Radio. Sponsored by The University at Albany Foundation, the series features live onstage interviews conducted by WAMC’s "Roundtable" host Joe Donahue with artists of national and international prominence in conversation about their creative inspiration, their craft, their careers and the demands of sustaining an artistic practice over time. A question-and-answer period closes each program. 

Manzano, a first-generation American of Latino descent, was raised in the South Bronx and graduated from the High School of Performing Arts. She went to Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh on scholarship and in her junior year, came to New York to star in the original production of the off-Broadway show Godspell. Within a year, Manzano joined the PBS children's show Sesame Street and eventually began writing scripts for the series.

Performances on the New York stage include the critically acclaimed theater pieces The Vagina Monologues, The Exonerated and Love, Loss, and What I Wore. Movie credits include Deathwish, Follow That Bird and Elmo in Grouchland.

Manzano has written several children’s books, including A World Together, A Box Full of Kittens, Miracle on 133rd Street and No Dogs Allowed!, which was made into a children’s musical. Manzano also penned the young adult novel The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano and the memoir Becoming Maria: Love and Chaos in the South Bronx. Her forthcoming novel, Coming Up Cuban, will be released by Scholastic in August. 

Manzano has won 15 Emmys for television script writing. She received the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Award and the Hispanic Heritage Award for Education, and was inducted into the Bronx Hall of Fame.

On the same day as the Creative Life conversation, Manzano will perform at the PAC at 7:30 p.m. in Selected Shorts,the weekly public radio show, joining actors Patricia Kalember and Bhavesh Patel.

Creative Life guests span disciplines, including writing, music, dance, choreography, visual arts, architecture, theater and filmmaking. The series celebrates the depth and range of artistic practices, helps to demystify the creative process for the audience and explores what it means to dedicate one’s life to a creative pursuit. It is also intended to bring attention to the vibrant arts community on the University at Albany campus.

The event is free and open to the public.

Previous guests include fiction writer Joyce Carol Oates, tap dancer-choreographer Savion Glover, jazz violinist Regina Carter, choreographer Garth Fagan, Broadway star Patti LuPone, Andy Warhol film star Bibbe Hansen, sculptor Jean Shin, journalist/author Susan Orlean, comedian/actor Paul Reiser, high-wire artist Philippe Petit, rapper Rakim and novelist Jhumpa Lahiri. Chef/food writer Ruth Reichl, designer Debbie Millman and author/social commentator Roxane Gay were guests earlier this season. 

Major support for The Creative Life is provided by The University at Albany Foundation with additional support from University Auxiliary Services. 

For more information, call the PAC box office at (518) 442-3997.