In Julie’s Greenroom, All Are Welcome!
by Holly Myer
“Hi, I’m Hank, the world’s number one baseball fan!”
The first thing we learn about Hank, one of the characters on the Netflix series Julie’s Greenroom, is that he’s a sports expert. Next, we find out he’s a piano-playing virtuoso! The audience at home and Hank’s peers in the Greenroom get an impression of him based on his personality and interests. They also learn that –oh, by the way— he uses a wheelchair.
Diversity and inclusiveness are important awareness issues in today’s world, and show creators are working to better represent people across all forms of media, especially in content for kids and families. The producers of Julie’s Greenroom had this mindset from the start of the show’s development, especially with the on-screen theater arts students, or as they’re lovingly referred to by their teacher Miss Julie, “the Greenies.” Co-creator and executive producer Emma Walton Hamilton explains, “We worked hard to make our Greenies as diverse a group as possible, so that every kid watching might see themselves reflected there, and feel welcome and embraced.” Like Hank, each character is unique and incredible, bringing many skills to the group’s projects. “[Hank] is outgoing, enthusiastic, a talented musician, and he engages with all the creative activities offered in the Greenroom with gusto.”
Fans have been responding to the Greenies with positivity and surprise, like Noah, who, in a video posted by his family, widens his eyes at first sight of Hank on an iPad. “That’s me!” he smiles, pointing at the screen, then himself. “That’s Noah!” Puppeteer John Tartaglia, who performs the role of Hank, says Noah’s reaction was especially heartwarming. “That really reminded me how privileged I am to play a character like Hank. To know that [Noah] feels like there is a character like him is so important and means so much to me.” Tartaglia says that through in-person experience and representation in media, when we strive to be more aware of the diversity of all people, “the more understanding, empathy, and connection there can be.”
Julie’s Greenroom has resonated with fans of all ages and backgrounds, and introduced young children to kind, caring characters with values of inclusiveness, understanding, and collaboration. Hamilton believes strongly that the arts and general education are environments that should encourage everyone. “This is reflective of just how accessible and inclusive the arts are - they literally ‘level the playing field’ from one individual to the next. Even Hugo the duck is a valued member of our company, underscoring the fact that, as Miss Julie says, ‘Theatre never discriminates!’”
Do you have a favorite Greenie? Let us know by using #JuliesGreenroom!