The “Vanderbilt Ventriloquist” has found her way to Sesame Street as the show’s first Black woman puppeteer, and it is truly a historic moment.
It all started for Megan Piphus Peace at the age of 10, when she first learned about the art while attending a puppetry conference with her Vacation Bible School teacher in Illinois. She immediately took a liking to the idea of ventriloquism, as she found familiarity by relating 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 by providing her with great practice materials such as VHS tapes of ventriloquists to learn from, along with a doll from the famous entertainer, Edgar Bergen.
Eventually, the practice led to something bigger and when Peace was just in elementary school, she began performing. Several years later, she was even featured on The Oprah Winfrey show at just 15 years old.
“What I consider the magic of ventriloquism is getting to share that experience with someone else and have them believe that our conversations are real,” Peace shared her story with Because Of Them We Can. “I realized what an impact the 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.”
Through high school, Peace continued to practice her craft, and went off to college at Vanderbilt University where she became known as the “Vanderbilt Ventriloquist.” She demonstrated her talent on several major platforms such as America’s Got Talent, and also performed on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno.
In 2014, Peace graduated from Vanderbilt University, earning her master’s in finance, and also started a professional career in real estate finance. She continued to progress as a puppeteer, performing on various television shows across the country and overseas.
In 2019, She collaborated with the University of Cincinnati on a musical series teaching children basic financial literacy. She was awarded two Emmys for her work as best composition and best children’s short, and now she has landed her biggest break yet.
In 2020, she joined the cast of Sesame Street, and made history last September as the first Black woman puppeteer, playing the role of a 6-year-old character named Gabrielle.
Peace expressed she had no idea this role was historical and she is grateful for the opportunity.
“I would have cried like a baby on the 123 steps if they had told me beforehand…The sets of Sesame Street are like walking into a fantasy. To be there is really something.”
Congratulations Megan! Thank you for sharing your Black Girl Magic!