A new cartoon is sweeping the internet and a young girl is at the heart of it all. With millions of views on YouTube, TikTok and Instagram, Gracie’s Corner has parents and children dancing, singing and learning together.
Graceyn Hollingsworth’s parents said she has always loved singing. So, they are helping her take her passion and transform it into a cartoon that brings more representation into children’s programming.
“It’s important for children to be able to see themselves in the characters, I think it has an impact on their self-confidence and just having a sense of belonging in society, realizing that they matter just as much as anyone else,” Javoris Hollingsworth said.
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Javoris Hollingsworth said he noticed the need for more Black children in cartoons during the pandemic.
“I was a college professor teaching Organic Chemistry, but because of the situation with the lockdown, I was teaching from home. My children were also learning from home — so everyone was spending more time with each other and because of that I was watching a lot of the content they were watching, and it stood out to me.”
Javoris Hollingsworth, his wife and daughter got to work creating a cartoon where a young girl leads the way with catchy songs focused on learning. They put a modern spin on traditional children’s songs like Row, Row, Row, Your Boat and Bingo.
They also pair catchy hip-hop and pop beats with different lessons about letters, numbers and counting money to name a few. They don’t just meet children where they are at, but they encourage them to keep pushing, the lyrics say things like “you can do it, you can do it.”
Check out the Real Talk, Real Solutions podcast in the media player below:
“One thing I learned is that these little kids are like sponges. We tend to underestimate them because of their age, but when you put certain things in front of them, they will soak that up and then spit it right back out at you. What we are trying to do is to make sure the stuff that they are bringing in and spitting out is something that is going to be helpful as far as their self-confidence and their knowledge,” Javoris Hollingsworth said.
He credits his wife with incorporating positive messages — like the ones in the “I Love My Hair” episode — into their programming.
The song’s lyrics include, “Kinky, curly, cute, I love down to my roots, sweet like lemonade, I love my hair in braids, down to my socks, I love my hair in locs.”
“She’s a psychologist and one of the things she told me was a lot of our children don’t receive those positive words of affirmation,” Javoris Hollingsworth said.
The show also portrays a family that Dr. Arlene Gordon-Hollingsworth said looks like theirs.
“In a lot of media now, it’s always perpetuating this certain stereotype about family, particularly families of color. So it was one of those things where I really wanted to make sure that we showed a whole family unit where there’s Mom, Dad, Grandparents — everyone is active and fully intact. That is a great representation as well for other people to see,” Javoris Hollingsworth said.
The couple said they are getting a lot of positive feedback.
“We’ve had families that have emailed us telling us they have a child for instance that has autism and that our songs and videos have really helped their child learn, this kind of feedback is why we do what we do,” Arlene Gordon-Hollingsworth said.
The family said, so far, the show has allowed them to tap into their educational and musical passions while spending quality time together, and they aren’t done yet.
“(We are) creating a long-form version of Gracie’s Corner where you actually get to know the character herself. Right now we do the songs and videos and what not but whatever concept is being discussed is the focal point, but with the long-form version you will get to know more about Gracie, more about her Dad, her Mom, her grandparents, the whole nine.”
You can connect with Gracie’s Corner at www.GraciesCornerTV.com or listen to the full interview with her parents on the Real Talk Real Solutions podcast.