’s Greenroom”: NetflixJulie Andrews
is coming back to TV to teach kids the value of arts education with Netflix’s “Julie
’s Greenroom” set to launch on March 17.
The series showcases the impact the arts can have on a child’s life with Andrews playing the fictional leader of a performing arts company made up of a host of puppet characters created by The Jim Henson Company. Created with her daughter, Emma Walton Hamilton
, an author and instructor at Suny Stony Brook Southampton, the show stars herself, Giullian Yao Gioiello
(“The Carrie Diaries
”), and a classroom full of puppets.
In a recent interview with the two women while on a visit to New York City to promote the show, Hamilton said that their collaboration came quite naturally.
“We’re both very passionate about the arts. Mom, of course with her arts background. I have a theater background and work with children. Mom has for a long time wanted to do a show about the arts for children, but for a variety of reasons, the time never presented itself,” Hamilton explained. “A year ago, Lisa Henson
, from The Henson Company, came to us and said ‘let’s do a show, something about the arts.’”
“I said, ‘yes, please!’” Andrews added. “I jumped at it. It’s not a moment too soon. The fact is I’m now doing what I’ve wanted to do for so long. If theater stimulates children even a little bit, I’d be so happy.”
Each episode plucks from the series’ impressive roster of celebrity guests, and the two women said working with them all has been magical. “We bring in wonderfully, powerful guest stars who teach various lessons about the arts,” Andrews shared. The list includes artists such as musician Sara Bareilles
, Broadway star Idina Menzel
, and “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
” actress Ellie Kemper
The show couldn’t come at a better time, with the potential threat of the elimination of the National Endowment of the Arts. “The irony is that the arts are always the first budget to be cut, but we know that statistically there is no better way to teach skills like problem solving, critical thinking, communications, empathy, tolerance, teamwork, collaboration, and the value of the arts,” said Hamilton. “If the arts are in peril, we must do our small part to to fight the good fight and protect and preserve. Plus, if you start exposing children to this stuff when they’re young, it’s much more accessible. Later in life, it can seem elitist or scary, but if you’re submersed early enough, you feel like you belong.”
“The arts are a bridge between countries and cultures,” said Andrews.
’s Greenroom” joins a roster of kids’ series on Netflix that features several DreamWorks Animation
shows, including “All Hail King Julien
” and “Turbo Fast
,” as well as other children’s series such as “Inspector Gadget
,” “Popples” and the upcoming “Beat Bugs
,” “ Lalaloopsy,” “Stretch Armstrong
” and “The Greenhouse.” “Netflix is so amazing because they take chances. They’ll take a risk, be edgy, be quirky,” observed Hamilton.
“They’re worldwide. I love that the show is being released worldwide, instantaneously,” said Andrews.
The mother-daughter collaboration started 30 books ago. “It’s a long time ago now,” Andrews fondly recalled. “My publisher asked me if I had anything for very young children.”
Hamilton eagerly added, ”My son was very young at the time, this was 20 years ago. My mother said to me, ‘If you were looking for a book at the library, what would it be?’ I said it would have to be about trucks, so that was our first book together.”
The book was “Dumpy at School.” The literary mother-daughter duo are now also authors of “The Great American Mousical,” “The Very Fairy Princess
,” and “The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles,” amongst many other titles.
“Now I don’t ever imagine writing without her because it reinforces the process,” Andrews said. “We have different strengths. She’s structure [and] nuts and bolts — the crafts person. It’s so helpful to have another creative mind to bounce ideas off. Can you imagine having had a little girl and having had her cling to your thigh and all that kind of thing then suddenly she grows up and you face yourselves as two equal women with a real connection of minds, stimulation, and respect?”
“She’s the inspiration, the one who woke up in the middle of the night recently and said ‘We need a duck on our show!’ I’m the one who says, ‘Ok, but how do we get from act one to act two?’” said Hamilton.
’s Greenroom” is aimed to preschoolers with thirteen 30-minute episodes. The two women are already hopeful it gets picked up for Season 2 so that they can teach people that theaters are often only steps away from their front door. “We purposely made this little theater resemble a regional theater because for many people, who don’t live in NYC, they might not realize that right down the road there’s a community theater or vocal workshop or dance hall to take advantage of,” said Hamilton.
Andrews added, “If we get picked up, I want to do a day of one of the kids saying ‘I’m bored.’ And we ask them what they want to do if they could, and we can recreate it on stage, using their imagination. I’d like to go to Paris for the day, for example. I also hope children will want to binge and watch these more than once.”
Sounds just like “The Sound of Music
” and “Mary Poppins
,” a couple movies we’ve all seen more than once.
Returns to TV to Teach Kids the Value of Arts Education in “Julie
’s Greenroom” was originally published in Women and Hollywood on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.