The Exciting World of Spanish-Language Dubbing

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The Exciting World of Spanish-Language Dubbing

On Feb. 22 at SAG-AFTRA Plaza in Los Angeles, the union’s national Spanish-Language Media Committee, chaired by Hernan de Beky, presented a panel titled Show Me the Money: The Exciting World of Spanish-Language Dubbing to a packed house. The event, which brought together female Spanish-language dubbing artists, was co-sponsored by the Television and Equal Employment Opportunities & Diversity departments.

The evening kicked off with a screening of the 2015 documentary, Now En Español, created by Andrea Meller. It follows the lives of the five Latina actresses responsible for dubbing and recreating the principal roles of ABC’s Desperate Housewives.  

The screening elicited a raw, reflective and at times humorous panel discussion on the challenges faced by these actors, as well as those faced by other women and voiceover artists in the industry. Topics discussed included learning to speak with a “neutral American Spanish accent," women in the workplace and general health concerns faced by all voiceover artists. The panelists shared in detail the demands they face as bilingual voiceover artists to speak in a neutral accent in order for the language to be understood across dialects that differ from country to country and region to region. An English-language example would be the differences in word meaning, spelling, slang and context between English spoken in the United States versus English spoken in Britain. In various Spanish dialects, the same distinctions are at play and thus Spanish-speaking voiceover artists are asked to shed their culturally specific colloquial accents in order to speak in a uniform manner. 

Aside from learning to speak in a neutral Spanish accent, these women faced additional challenges that are specific to voiceover work. Long work hours for less-than-ideal wages paired with running a home, paying bills and raising children has been a struggle for all the panelists. 

As for health concerns, voiceover artists across the board are typically concerned with vocal stress and damage to the throat, which can put an actor out of work. This is currently a focus of the union’s video game strike.

De Beky expressed to the crowded room that the mission of the Spanish-Language Media Committee is to bring together and empower SAG-AFTRA members who work in Spanish-language media and to provide leadership by identifying challenges and spotlighting opportunities that the Spanish-language media market offers our members. This event successfully met its mission to support this growing segment of our membership. 

 
Spanish-Language Media Committee Chair Hernan de Beky, who organized the Feb. 22 Spanish-language dubbing panel at SAG-AFTRA Plaza, with panelists Marcela Bordes and Marabina Jaimes; panel moderator and 30-year Spanish dubbing veteran Denise Lebre Hefti; SAG-AFTRA Director, Policy Strategy and Analysis, EEO/Diversity Consuelo Flores; panelist Ivette Gonzalez; and Director, Television Contracts David Besbris.

Panel
The Feb. 22 Spanish-language dubbing panel was moderated by 30-year Spanish dubbing veteran Denise Lebre Hefti, who has lent her voice to such Tinsletown royalty as Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts. Panelists included the principal Spanish dubbing actresses Marabina Jaimes, Natasha Perez, Ivette Gonzalez and Marcela Bordes, as well as Erika Robledo and Chilean-American documentarian Andrea Meller (not shown)

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