Get to know Sonia Santarelli, a producer at Brown Bag Films for Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood. She chats about her favorite television shows growing up, and how even gives a tease of the forthcoming Season 5!
How did you become a producer of children's television shows?
I always knew I wanted to pursue a career in television! In high school I gravitated to media arts classes where we learned everything from operating TV cameras and using editing software to producing our own mini segments for the school’s own TV network (which I hosted). Naturally, I thought my path in television was to be on camera—a charismatic and poised television host of a daytime lifestyle segment! Boy was I wrong.
After completing an undergrad in English Literature, I headed into a Post Graduate program for Television Writing and Producing. Throughout the post graduate program, I discovered the world of animation, and I was intrigued to learn more. The world was fast paced and exciting, but also rewarding! After an internship in Development, I was offered the Production Coordinator role on a pre-school series—I was hooked! From then I went on to serve as Production Manager and produce various animated shows. Each new show allowed me to build my skill sets and knowledge—always learning and growing every step of the way.
Being a part of a team that creates content for children that entertains, educates and impacts their lives is so rewarding, and I am lucky to have a career that doesn’t feel like a job. I enjoy every moment and am so glad that the choices I made as a young adult have led me down this path!
What was your favorite television show when you were growing up?
I watched A LOT of Barney as a child. I knew all the songs and dances. It’s a bit embarrassing, but I can still recite the song, “I love you, you love me…” – haha! I also watched Pasquale, the Italian chef! I was glued to the TV when he was on. His singing was so captivating, and he was always cooking up something delicious.
What steps go into your role in producing Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood?
Daniel Tiger is a show that has so many moving parts, and as the producer on the series, I oversee all stages of the production from script to screen. Working alongside the production team, I ensure all notes are addressed and carried through each department from script to design, music, voice records, Leicas, and animation—to name a few.
Coupled with working closely with the production team, I also work alongside the 9 Story New York team and the Fred Rogers Productions team to ensure each stage of the production remains on brand, on schedule, and on budget.
While the producer on any series has the important responsibility of managing the production, it really is thanks to the talented team on Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood that we are able to create such fun, inspiring, and rewarding content for children across the world.
What is your favorite episode of Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood?
There are so many fabulous episodes of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, each with a positive message that teaches children to be kind and how to navigate through new moments—all values and teachings that will last a lifetime! Currently, we are working on a very special episode for season 5 that lives close to my heart. It’s all about celebrating our differences, and I can’t wait to share this episode with the world.
What do you like to do when you're not working on the show?
I love to travel!! Exploring (or as I like to call it, wandering) new countries and cities is so rewarding. I collect experiences and moments on each trip—near or far! I have been so fortunate to visit some truly amazing places from Europe to Asia.
I also love to cook! I find peace in the kitchen—experimenting with different ingredients and sharing meals with friends and family. Maybe that’s all because of Pasquale?
Watch Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood daily on PBS KIDS.
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