Jasmine Roth Stars in Special Episode of 'Sesame Street'
Designer and host of Help! I Wrecked My House Jasmine Roth recently stepped onto the set of a show very different from her own: Sesame Street. Ahead, she shares what it was like to host the special.
This wasn’t the first time Jasmine Roth, host of Help! I Wrecked My House, received a phone call about working on a makeover show, but it was a time unlike any other. “Sesame Street was looking to team up with HGTV to renovate a theater classroom in an underfunded school. I immediately said yes,” reveals Jasmine.
Elmo and Tango Holiday Helpers airs on Max starting Dec. 7 at midnight. During the episode, Jasmine assists Elmo and his dog Tango as they renovate a classroom for some talented theater kids and their hardworking teacher. Ahead, Jasmine shares what it was like giving back to a school community — and working with Muppets.
HGTV: Out of all the HGTV talent, you were chosen to host a show with Sesame Street’s Elmo and his dog Tango. How excited were you?
Jasmine: So excited! I was honored to represent our network in this collaboration with Max. You could say it was on my hosting bucket list. I’d never worked with puppets before, and then, when I found out we’d be bettering students’ lives, I was all in.
HGTV: Tell us a little about the show.
Jasmine: The theater program at the Beaumont Magnet Academy in Knoxville, Tennessee, was built from the ground up over the past six years by a superhero teacher named Miss Taylor — but the room she and her students work in needed a facelift and the funds were simply not there. Miss Taylor prides herself on using the theater as a way to help fourth- and fifth-grade students develop life skills, so it was important to get this room right.
HGTV: How did it all transpire?
Jasmine: There was an upcoming theater performance, so our goal was to renovate the room over one weekend so when the kids returned to school on Monday, they’d be surprised. We asked a lot of questions, and Miss Taylor and her students gave us great feedback in terms of what they needed and what was working and what wasn’t in the classroom. It was a consultation just like I'd do with a design client at the beginning of my own show, but in this case, my clients were a theater teacher and her kids and my team were puppets!
HGTV: What were some of the projects you tackled during your renovation?
Jasmine: It was immediately apparent the room needed to be better organized. For example, there were costumes all over the platform where they practiced. The room had a high ceiling so I wanted to take advantage of that space and include shelving. I also brought in lockers to store all the essentials needed to put on a performance. We gave them fresh furnishings and a different seating setup for all the activities they were involved with.
HGTV: Did you have a color palette in mind?
Jasmine: Miss Taylor loves color, but she also likes the idea of a calm classroom. Miss Taylor noted many of her kids are overstimulated and don’t have a lot of opportunities to quiet their bodies and take a beat. She told us she often turns the lights off in her classroom to create a more peaceful, tranquil environment. Her wish was for a sophisticated, serene color palette, which, in the end, was dictated by a mural created with the help of a local artist. The art was colorful, but it was expressed in muted tones and included some of Miss Taylor’s powerful mantras and words of affirmation.
HGTV: What surprised you the most about filming this segment?
Jasmine: The puppeteers! Especially how they can take a complex subject and break it down, making it digestible for children to understand. At one point, I was struggling to articulate and Elmo, who likes to speak in third person, said, “You know, Elmo feels like…” and then he went ahead and shared exactly how he felt. I thought, “I get it!” I never really gave a lot of thought to what it takes to be a puppeteer or what goes into making these characters come to life. There’s so much work involved. Every time a hand moves or an eyeball goes left or right or blinks, somebody is behind that. At the same time, these puppeteers are doing the voices and sticking to the story lines. Such talent!
HGTV: Did the puppets help with the renovation?
Jasmine: This may come as a surprise, but furry puppets aren’t necessarily suited for construction. All that sawdust and the glue — it was a little tough on them! But seeing the Muppets decked out in construction gear like gloves, safety goggles and hard hats was a lot of fun.
HGTV: Did you grow up watching Sesame Street? If so, who was your favorite Muppet?
Jasmine: Sesame Street was a big part of my life. My favorite Muppet was Oscar the Grouch because he was my mom’s favorite — which was surprising because he is so out of character for her — while Cookie Monster was a close second. My 3-year-old daughter Hazel loves Elmo and Tango.
HGTV: You wrote on Instagram, “I’m auditioning for the ‘coolest mom’ award this year, while also making all my childhood dreams come true. Somebody pinch me.” Is Hazel aware you’re going to be on Sesame Street?
Jasmine: Elmo and I actually FaceTimed Hazel when we were in the classroom. But honestly, the coolest thing was helping Miss Taylor and her students. The excitement and interest were indescribable. I mean, Sesame Street was at their school!
Jasmine: I did tickle Elmo! [laughs]. I also had a cookie with Cookie Monster and was able to pet Tango. Grover was in the classroom, but he was super grumpy.
HGTV: How can we all get more involved with local schools?
Jasmine: You don’t have to do something big to make a difference. You don’t need superhero powers to help out in a classroom. It’s really all about volunteering your time, getting to know your schools and teachers and then figuring out how you can assist. It can be as simple as packing a lunch for a busy teacher. Because watching Miss Taylor, she doesn’t have time to go grab lunch! She has kids in her classroom from the minute she gets to school to the minute she leaves. Thinking about how we can support teachers in even small ways was one of my biggest takeaways from this experience.
Elmo and Tango Holiday Helpers airs on Max Dec. 7, 2023.