Kidscreen » Archive » How Alma’s Way and Rosie’s Rules are celebrating Latin culture

Kidscreen » Archive » How Alma’s Way and Rosie’s Rules are celebrating Latin culture

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Producers can’t afford to ignore the Latin American and Hispanic market, with almost 18 million kids in the US alone who want to see their cultures represented on screen.

Shows that speak to those viewers can also have more universal appeal, break down age barriers and promote cultural diversity.

But where do you start with this kind of content? According to Alma’s Way (pictured) head writer Jorge Aguirre and PBS KIDS execs Adriano Schmid and Tommy Gillespie, the key is capturing the nuances of more than just a single Latino culture.

Alma’s Way (65 x 30 minutes) is aimed at children ages four to six and follows a Puerto Rican girl in the Bronx who experiences many aspects of Latin culture, such as celebrating Christmas Eve and preparing traditional meals. Sonia Manzano (Sesame Street) is the creator of this 2D-animated series co-pro from Fred Rogers Productions and Pipeline Studios.

The show had a stellar launch last year on PBS KIDS, where it ranked as the top-rated and most-streamed PBS KIDS series during its premiere week, according to the company. Since then, the Alma’s Way brand has expanded with three video games that regularly make it a top-10 performer on the pubcaster’s digital platforms.

Jorge Aguirrehead writer and an executive producer on Alma’s Waysays the series appeals to kids and families because it respects the fact that Latinos aren’t a “monolith.” Latinos are proud to see their culture represented in detail on screen because the distinctions between their communities are not made in the media, says Aguirre.

One of the regional differences the show demonstrates is word usage. In the episode “New Neighbors,” for example, Alma discovers that her Puerto Rican family uses different words for “great” than her new neighbor Beto, who is Mexican-American.

Shows like Alma’s Way also break down age barriers, Aguirre adds. The series has received positive reviews from young people, adults and grandparents, who are all attracted to it because they can see their flag or hear their slang.

Looking ahead, Aguirre says he is working on new episodes that will deepen the relationship between Alma and Beto, and show the differences between Puerto Rican and Mexican-American cultures.

Another show targeting the Latino market is Rosie’s Rules (pictured), which is looking to achieve similar popularity following its launch this fall on PBS KIDS.

The 2D-animated preschool series (40 x 30 minutes) stars a six-year-old Mexican-American girl from the Texas suburbs. In each episode, Rosie learns about social studies concepts at a preschool level, including community, economics, government and history. 9 Story Media Group and its animation studio, Brown Bag Films, are producing the show.

PBS KIDS content VP Adriano Schmid and senior director of current series Tommy Gillespie say content like Rosie’s Rules and Alma’s Way is critical because it teaches preschoolers about cultural diversity and empathy.

They also have global appeal. Whether or not kids share the same background as the protagonists, all viewers can benefit from learning about the important role that a character’s culture plays in shaping their personality, according to Gillespie and Schmid in a joint statement. And when children from underrepresented communities see positive portrayals of themselves in the media, “it has a measurable impact on their self-esteem and long-term success in school and life.”

The PBS KIDS execs say grounding the characters in a nuanced culture makes them more complex, adding that they plan to develop more content that celebrates different aspects of Hispanic life. “No single program will be able to reflect the wide diversity of experiences and backgrounds lived by all children in the US.”

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Jorge Oliveira

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