By Stephanie Ciccarelli
July 16, 2007
Welcome to the Voices.com Voices of the World Week on VOX Daily!
In today's article, we're featuring anunciadores espaÃ±oles, agentes de la voz, narradores, talento comercial de la voz, y voces de la historieta; las mejores voces del mundo que hablan EspaÃ±ol!
In other words, we'll discover more about the Spanish language, how Spanish voice talent fare in North American markets, the differences between European Spanish (Castilian or Castellano) and Latin American Spanish and much more!
EnsÃ¡mblenos como damos la bienvenida a nuestros amigos espaÃ±oles en el diario de la VOZ!
It's no secret that the Spanish market is booming in the United States, particularly the Hispanic market.
After several generations of people from Latin America and South America establishing roots as American citizens in the southern states and the west coast of the US predominantly, the time has come for society to recognize the rich contributions, cultural and otherwise, that our Spanish speaking brothers and sisters have introduced to North Americans, including the beautiful Romance language of Spanish.
To give you a brief history on the two principal dialects of Spanish where we are concerned, the European Spanish comes from Spain and exhibits a different pronunciation altogether from the more familiar Latin American Spanish of soft C's that sound like S's we have come to know through songs like Feliz Navidad and the like.
The Spanish spoken here in North America is by most accounts the most universally spoken because of its effortless glides and genteel delivery not to mention the exposure it has enjoyed in the Americas. This is the gentle Spanish of Dora the Explorer, Sesame Street, soap operas from Mexico, and the crooning of singers such as Ricky Martin, Enrique Iglesias, Jennifer Lopez and Shakira.
When I asked Simone Fojgiel, a native Spanish speaker and voice talent member at Voices.com, about the role that Spanish plays on the world stage in the world of voice over, she revealed the following:
"Just consider that Spanish is spoken by almost 400 million people natively. It is the fourth most spoken language by total number of speakers, including native and non-native Spanish speakers, which in total is approximately 500 million. The expansion of Spanish is frankly impressive. It is also the second most widely spoken language in the US. Not to mention its beauty and richness! I believe that since globalization has gained more power in our daily life, Spanish is playing a major role in every field you can imagine, spread by the mass and alternative media every single day.
I believe that Spanish is nowadays one of the 3 leading languages in the field of voice over, from a global perspective. Particularly, recent studies in the United States say that the number of Spanish-dominant and bilingual Hispanics in America will increase by 45% over the next 20 years. Considering these amazing numbers, plus the fact that there are more Hispanics living in the US than the entire population of Canada, which is 32.5 million, brings an excellent projection to our profession in America. In fact, I think it's an outstanding, unstoppable phenomenon.
The demand for Spanish talents is increasing everyday especially in the US, but also in other markets like Europe and Asia, although with other specifications. For instance, in Europe companies look for Castilian (Castellano) accented talents, because the influence that comes from Spain is real in their market. In America, in most of the cases, Latin American. Mexican or Neutral Spanish are the most requested accents for obvious reasons."
As Simone says, Spanish is a very complex language to learn because of various vocabulary, grammatical, syntax and semantic rules and conjugations. It has a word for every feeling. From my own experience, all you need to do is watch a Spanish opera or program on television to see the practically endless flow of passion that emanates from each word with purpose and gusto.
Simone also shared that although the language is beautiful and looks effortless, Spanish has a two-gender system and about fifty conjugated forms per verb, revealing "I don't blame those who postpone taking Spanish courses every year!!!"
Another interesting fact is that although there are two main Spanish dialect distinctions, even Latin American Spanish has its own stream of sub-dialects. You can find obvious differences between certain accents, for instance Cuban compared to Argentinian/Uruguayan. They both are Spanish, but the accent and even the way verbs are conjugated is absolutely different.
Case in point is the difference between a native speaker of a Spanish dialect and the lingual abilities of someone who is a descendant of a native speaker living abroad.
As we know and some of you may have witnessed personally, when people move to other regions or pass their mother tongue onto their children after they have emigrated, the purity of the dialect may not be exactly the same or in tune with what is going on where they originally came from.
In Simone's opinion, there are major differences in a native speakers' facility and that of someone who has been taught out of context or has adopted a mixed version of English and Spanish, often referred to as Spanglish (remember that Adam Sandler / TÃ©a Leoni movie?).
Simone also insists that companies should be aware that fact when they plan to work with a Spanish Voice Talent.
She can think of dozens of examples that feature several companies who trust in Spanish speaking employees to translate the original script from English. It is perceived that having an employee with a Spanish heritage doing the legwork of translation will save some money or simplify the process. What an employer doesn't realize is that by relying on a non-native speaker to produce a respectable translation into the language specified is a big mistake, one that could potentially risk their reputation as well as waste resources.
"Someone who was born in the US and has parents who were born in Latin America, or who came to this country at an early age and was born in South America, isn't likely to speak a 100% pure Spanish, or use the right conjugation of verbs. There will be a lack of richness in vocabulary, too. And "Spanglish" will be evident in the way many words (i.e. technical) will be translated. I don't know how other talents manage themselves when a script that's full of grammatical errors comes to their hands. Do they tell the company what's happening? I do, and show my concern. Companies who hire Spanish voice talents need to be very, very aware of these situations. American people trust in others, because in this country your word represents your honour. But they need to know that not everyone has the same ethics. So I suggest them to work with a well educated Translator and Voice Talent, in order to get the results they expect. No matter the target you want to reach within the Hispanic Community. Spanish voice talents should be native, and translators too. Always."
As a native speaker of Spanish, Simone is able to market herself as a professional in the field of Spanish voice over with over 16 years of experience in the media as a native Spanish Voice Talent, Audio Imaging Producer, Creative Copywriter and Translator/Proofreader.
When promoting her talent to North Americans, she makes sure to promote her fast turnaround service as she is working full-time as a voice talent and is exclusively dedicated to this job all day long. It is possible to get a script translated and recorded in minutes, she says.
Simone likens herself to small agency where you can either design a radio campaign, do the copy, translate it, have the voice recorded and then have the entire spot produced with the highest standards for a reasonable price, studio fees included - a process that wouldn't take longer than 3 hours!
Her impressive client list is also a fabulous marketing tool when introducing herself to new clients as references of her work.
Some of these clients include: Microsoft, IBM, Home Depot, McDonald's, Siemens, Liz Claiborne, Donna Karan, Cingular, Verizon, Sylvan, Allstate, Alltel, L'OrÃ©al, Wella, Visa, Mastercard, Comcast, Frito Lay, Phillip Morris, Ballantine™s, Gillette, Maybelline, Firestone, Arizona Amber Alerts, The South Florida 511 Traffic and Transit Information Service (SEFL), Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, and so on.
Simone's resume coupled with acclaimed versatility is what makes her a very competitive professional in the market. Her versatility is the defining talent that she likes to show to the world and to herself each day.
Simone Fojgiel, a native of Uruguay (a country whose population is barely 3 million), moved to the US from South America to pursue more opportunities as a Spanish voice talent and is proud of being a native Spanish speaker who works as a voice over professional in the North American market.
When asked about her success in the North American marketplace and Uruguay, Simone shared the following:
"The economical situation in Uruguay has aggravated in the past 10 years, and in 2002 we faced the worst financial crisis in our history. This affected, of course, the entire media business. I worked for 13 years at Oceano FM, one of the most important local FM's as a DJ, Music Programmer, Creative Copywriter and Main Female Corporate Voice. Besides, I worked for advertising agencies as a Voice Talent, but due to the crisis budgets were driven lower and lower. Therefore, these companies booked talents who were desperate for money, or were dishonest with other colleagues affiliated to the same union, impeding others to compete openly.
I even founded the only official union of voice talents in Uruguay and, perceiving this situation, I decided to quit my membership. I also quit at the station after realizing that I was stuck in the same place for a long time, and that I had a whole new world ready to conquer. That's how I decided to study Neutral Spanish and Audio Techniques, and built my home studio. That happened 3 years ago.
Today, ninety percent of my clientele is located in Canada and the United States, and most of my voice over work is related to Training Videos for big companies like Home Depot, DVD Tutorials for Microsoft, E-Learning projects for IBM, FedEx, online video presentations for medical and technological products as well. Another important area of my voicework has to do with IVR systems and On Hold Messaging. I'm both the Spanish Voice Talent and the English/Spanish Translator for many corporations who developed a particular market with phone surveys, for example. Some of these companies are Phillip Morris, Liz Claiborne, Sylvan, Comcast, Arby's, McDonald's, Alltel, and Carmax."
It would seem that the US Dollar is the currency of the world!
Upon asking which currency voice actors bill in when a customer is not from their land of origin, the resounding answer nearly always includes the US Dollar as one of the currencies if not the only currency.
While America may be the currency of choice, the world is truly a voice actor's oyster when it comes to the freedoms promoting your talent online presents. Simone has found the much of her success is related to her online marketing efforts as opposed to more traditional methods offline.
The first order of business was to build a home recording studio and create a professional website. She considers her website to be an "indispensable tool" for introducing herself as a voice actor and to display her talents for prospective clients.
Another aspect of Simone's online promotion is Google and on several voice banks. In fact, Voices.com was the first place where Simone decided to promote her voice over services.
"When I first began to sell my services online, I also contacted hundreds of companies by e-mail, creating a nice mailing format and producing a general demo so they could appreciate my experience and quality of service. Fortunately, I had a lot of luck because many of those companies are still my clients, and I work for them on a weekly basis. Uruguay is a country where your talent is envied or underestimated, no matter what your profession. All these factors get automatically projected in the way others treat you. I mention this because when you send your resume or even your demo and if they disregard you for that specific job, they don't keep your info for a possible contact in the future. This doesn't happen here (in North America) at all. After one or two years, I've been contacted by many people who kept my audio demo and brief resume in their files, and even worked for them in amazing projects. For someone who comes from Uruguay, that is almost a miracle. Promoting yourself online is the best and cheapest tool you can use, only if you know how to."
Simone Fojgiel's experience finding work online has afforded her many freedoms, particularly working from her home in the US.
She officially moved to the States a year ago and has since lived in Milwaukee, WI. Speaking of her home state, Simone intimated:
"As you can imagine, the probability of finding voice over work in Spanish here and in person is null compared to markets like Florida, California or NYC. So at this particular stage I exclusively depend on finding work online. Many companies have found me through my website, or lead services... and I found hundreds of them online, too! My experience was exciting from the very beginning. By that time I was living in Montevideo and working from home, and couldn't believe that my clients, who were on the other side of the world, paid for my work at the time agreed, no matter our distance. When you come from a narrow minded culture like mine, and you clearly know you want to cross that gap no matter what, Internet, your talent and beliefs get you to the right place and time to move on. At least, that's what happened to me."
Not just a speaker of Spanish and English, Simone is trilingual, adding Hebrew to the mix of languages offered to her clients. She recognizes that her polyglot capabilities are an advantage because she is able to accommodate projects with certain accents and meet the expectations of her clients.
At present, Simone does not have an agent in North America, but she is definitely open to a conversation on the subject with someone who can promote her voice and Spanish language services in the major US markets of Spanish voice over in California, NYC and Miami.
To learn more about Simone Fojgiel, visit her websites: