Uma is Oobi's younger sister. Her stature is a little shorter than Oobi's, and her attention span is shorter than his, too. She is full of energy and sometimes makes mistakes when she thinks or acts too quickly.
Uma doesn't always consider other people's feelings, and she depends on Oobi and Grampu for help when she can't understand something or needs to calm down. She is very close with her family and can get upset when she has to leave them.
Uma's favorite animal is the chicken, and her passion for chickens seems to border on obsession. She loves to talk about them and imitate them, much to Grampu's annoyance. In the episode "Uma Chicken!", she pretends to be a chicken as part of an Old MacDonald roleplaying game. She ends up getting so invested in her chicken character that she dresses up in a bird costume, complete with a beak and a red glove on top of her wrist, and refuses to eat anything but chicken food.
A running gag throughout the show is that Uma has trouble pronouncing bigger words, like "asparagus" or "majorette". Whenever she learns a confusing word, Oobi helps her figure out how to say it. After she adds a new word to her vocabulary, she tends to say it over and over again, unknowingly irritating everyone around her until even she gets tired of the word.
According to promo statements for season one, Uma is three years old at the beginning of the show. She has a birthday party in the early episode "Uma's Birthday!" but her age is never said. As of "Uma Preschool!", she attends a preschool class along with her best friend Moppie.
Out of all the characters in the show, Uma is the one who changed the most throughout production. When Oobi started out as a collection of two-minute shorts, Uma's character was written as a baby. She had a squeakier, younger-sounding voice and couldn't pronounce the letter 'R' correctly. For example, she would say "Gampu" instead of Grampu and "pince" instead of prince. She also wore no accessories other than her eyes, which sometimes made it hard to tell her from Oobi.
When the show was picked up for its first season of half-hour episodes, Uma's character was reworked so that she could be the focus of longer, more engaging stories. The writing team decided to make her a toddler—still too young to be in school, but able to interact with the adult characters and talk with a wider vocabulary. To make her instantly recognizable, she was given a main accessory: her blue and purple barrette.
In season two, Uma's eyes and barrette were both given a redesign. Her updated eyes were a more vibrant shade of blue, and her barrette was bigger and more flower-like. This season gave Uma some important character development: she started attending preschool and became best friends with Moppie, another student in her class.
Uma was played by Stephanie D'Abruzzo, a longtime Sesame Street puppeteer who also played Inka. Stephanie cited Uma as her favorite role in 2006, joking, "I wish I had the rights to the character, as I would love to do little videos with her where she gets frustrated by the world around her." (source) Stephanie is married to Craig Shemin, who worked as a staff writer on Oobi and is also the president of The Jim Henson Legacy. As of 2014, Oobi is the most recent project that the couple has worked on together. (source)
While Oobi was in production, Stephanie D'Abruzzo was also performing on the puppet-based Broadway musical Avenue Q. In an interview with Playbill, she said "It's gonna be challenging doing both of them, but both of them are projects that are so close to my heart, I would feel really terrible not being able to do them...I'm really hoping that it will all work out." (source)
Luckily, each season of Oobi was filmed over a short two-month period, so she was able to play both roles without neglecting one of them. In 2004, Stephanie D'Abruzzo met the actress Uma Thurman backstage at Avenue Q. She briefly posed for a photo with Thurman while holding her hand up like Uma, so that "Uma and Uma" would both be in the same photo. Afterwards, Thurman revealed that she was familiar with Oobi's Uma, quoted as saying: "Oh, I know who Uma is." This meeting was the subject of a brief controversy when TV Guide published an article that sensationalized it to make it sound as if Thurman had asked for a picture, when it was the other way around. (source)
Like the other members of her family, Uma has fair skin and pink fingernails. Her eyes are blue. Four fingers act as her upper lip, while her thumb acts as her lower lip. In "Theater!", Uma reveals that she sometimes wears nail polish, which she calls "lip gloss."
In the shorts, Uma does not wear any accessories. In season one, she wears a barrette that resembles a peach-colored ring with three swirls on top: two light blue ones on the sides and a purple one in the center. In season two, she wears an updated barrette that looks more like three flowers on a purple ring. The color scheme was switched, with the outer flowers purple and the middle one blue.
Uma has a few recurring outfits that she wears on special occasions. When she goes out to dinner or has to look fancy for an event, she wears a lilac-colored dress worn like a sleeve. She also has a two-piece chicken costume: a plastic orange beak that she wears around her fingers and a red glove, worn on top of her wrist as if it were a chicken's comb.