Father Figure, On Camera And Off | Sesame Street’s Emilio Delgado on Being a Role Model and Dad
Imagine, if you will, you’re a young Latino man in your late twenties living in Los Angeles. You’ve just had your first child and you’re pounding the pavement, working your ass off to land any acting gig you can get. And then one day the telephone rings, and the opportunity of a lifetime presents itself… three thousand miles away. That’s the beginning of Emilio Delgado’s journey as both a father and an esteemed actor best known for portraying the beloved Luis Rodriguez on Sesame Street. Emilio joins us on Modern Dadhood to discuss being a father to his son, stepsons, and adopted daughter—and a role model and father figure to millions of kids across the world.
The episode opens with a conversation about paternal influences on kids. Adam shares about how he was not only shaped by his own father’s personality, but by a family friend with a very different parenting style. The guys discuss the communal activity of gathering around the television as kids, and some of the actors who played trusting paternal characters on network television, serving as role models to young people.
Adam and Marc welcome actor Emilio Delgado into the conversation. Emilio is most well known for his role as Fix-It-Shop owner Luis Rodriguez, a Latino actor who joined the cast in 1971 and earned the impressive superlative of “longest running role played by a Mexican American actor in a television series.” The characters of Luis and his wife Maria portrayed the Mexican Americans realistic/accurate/real realistically, which was rare at the time on American television. Emilio’s character literally introduced the Latino culture to millions of American-born children, exposing many to their first Spanish words and providing a launch ramp for further exploration of the many cultures of the world.
Emilio shares fond memories of his time on the set of Sesame Street, the camaraderie with the cast and crew, and working with Jim Henson. Simultaneously, off camera, Emilio was raising his own children and step children, frequently traveling between Los Angeles and New York to keep up with a rigorous filming schedule. We discuss topics including:
• Being a role model to young people
• Becoming “part of the family” to viewers
• The familial set culture on the show
• Working with child actors
• Recognizing the impact of Sesame Street
• Learning what it means to be a father, a husband, and a man
• Bringing his son Aram to the set of Sesame Street
• Raising his daughter Lauren later in life
• Being a mentor to newer cast members
• The stress of being away from home for months at a time
• Knowing Jim Henson
To close out the show, Marc describes in detail saving his naked toddlers from disaster in an installment of “Did I Just (Have To) Say That Out Loud?”