I can confidently say we’ve all seen at least one episode or remember “The Backyardigans.” The theme song alone would draw us to the screen but, did you know that the creator of the hit children’s show is an African American woman named Janice Burgess.
Burgess was born on December 25, 1954, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.She graduated from Brandeis University in 1974 with a degree in art history. Unsatisfied with her job, she began to work at a local TV station, WQED. Working her way up she got a job at the Children’s Television Workshop. During her time there she heard about a position at Nickelodeon.
Burgess is now a former television executive, writer and producer for Nickelodeon. She worked with the company from 1995 to 2014 and created “The Backyardigans” which premiered on October 11, 2004 and ran until July 12, 2013. The show began it’s creation in 1998 and went through several changes adding things like CGI and ultimately was prepared by 2003. The Emmy winner based the show on her own childhood experiences she spent playing with her friends in her backyard. Outside of “The Backyardigans” she also served as a producer on the other Nickelodeon series “Winx Club.”
Outside of her real-life experiences, Burgess also took inspirations from action films when it came to creating episodes.
It’s always important to remember Black creators, especially those like Burgess who played a huge role in our childhoods. Her work and other creators like her taught us how to use our imagination.
By Monique Petty-Ashmeade, Sophomore, DePaul University