The “Vanderbilt Ventriloquist” has found his way to Sesame Street as the series’ first black puppeteer, and it’s truly a historic moment.
It all started for Megan Piphus Peace at age 10, when she first encountered the art while attending a puppet lecture with her Vacation Bible School teacher in Illinois. She immediately took a liking to the idea of ventriloquism, as she familiarized herself by linking it to some of her beloved childhood TV shows like Sesame Street and Lamb Chop’s Play Along.
Peace’s mother noticed her enthusiasm and supported her with great training materials such as VHS tapes of ventriloquists to learn from, as well as a doll by famed artist Edgar Bergen.
Eventually the practice led to something bigger and while Peace was only in elementary school, she started performing. Several years later, she was even featured on The Oprah Winfrey show at just 15 years old.
“What I see as the magic of ventriloquism is sharing that experience with someone else and making them believe our conversations are real,” her story shared with Peace Of Them We Can. “I realized the impact writing could have on the audience and that every age could learn something from the show. From then on, my goal was to have a theme… woven into every performance.
In high school, Peace continued to practice her craft and went to college at Vanderbilt University where she became known as “Vanderbilt Ventriloquist”. She has demonstrated her talent on several major platforms such as America’s Got Talent, and has also performed on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.
In 2014, Peace graduated from Vanderbilt University, earned her master’s degree in finance, and also began a professional career in real estate finance. She continued to progress as a puppeteer, performing on various television shows across the country and abroad.
In 2019, she collaborated with the University of Cincinnati on a musical series teaching children basic financial literacy. She received two Emmys for her work as Best Composition and Best Children’s Short, and now she’s landed her biggest break yet.
In 2020, she joined the cast of Sesame Street, and made history last September as the first black puppeteer, playing the role of a 6-year-old character named Gabrielle.
Peace expressed that she had no idea the role was historic and that she is grateful for the opportunity.
“I would have cried like a baby on the 123 steps if they had warned me… The sets of sesame street are like stepping into a fantasy. Being there is really something.
Congratulations Megan! Thank you for sharing your Black Girl Magic!