By Stephanie Ciccarelli
February 9, 2009
Do you know about the great opportunities that are out there for Spanish voice over talent?
The Hispanic market is booming in the US and the demand for voice overs in Spanish and bilingual voice overs has increased exponentially from even just decades ago.
Silvana Lombardini, Spanish voice over coach, says the future looks bright for Spanish voice actors, their families and the bilingual voices of the future... the time to talk about this is now.
VOX: Thank you for joining us here on VOX Daily, Silvana! From what I hear, you're very passionate about bringing awareness to Spanish voice overs in North America and sharing experiences with all the voice over community. How much would you say that the demand for Spanish voice over has grown in recent years in the US and Canada?
SILVANA LOMBARDINI: Hi everybody and thank you Stephanie for this opportunity to share my experiences with the voice over community. I must say that I'm surprised about the Spanish voice over demand in the US and Canada of the last years.
Latin talents are flourishing all over the world, not only in the voice over market but in all artistic expressions. I believe one of the strongest reasons is that now the children born in families of both North American and Latin American origins are growing up to have a
very nice mixture of cultures and backgrounds so they want and need to bring Spanish language to the same level where English is. Within this group there are also producers and creatives, directors, writers and the audience itself, so the whole market is in the process of needing more Spanish voices.
VOX: How much Spanish voice over work is out there?
SILVANA: I discovered a great demand for Spanish voice over work, which is
done online, for English speaking countries, mostly for the USA, United Kingdom and Canada. Getting jobs online is great for Spanish voices that sometimes don't have many opportunities for voice over work in their own countries.
VOX: Taking a step away from the English market, what's it like in the Spanish
speaking voice over world? Can you share a bit about what goes on and how large that market is?
SILVANA: Now there's a lot of work to do in Argentina, where the market has
evolved in the last years with local productions for both National and International Documentaries and Reality Shows, that demand local voice overs who need to have residence here, because the market is not ready for working online, yet. Many voice actors are taking lessons in Neutral Spanish as to expand their possibilities. At first the voice talents were not actors but for the last three or four years producers started choosing actors instead of voice over professionals so talents had to start training.
The market is large but frequently you have one voice recording a spot in Argentina that airs in three or four countries. We can discuss if this is fair but in fact this is how it works today. The podcast and phone cells contents, in which audio is relevant as well as images are on TV, give more opportunities to voice actors and this is growing very fast.
Mexico and Argentina are the two countries that make the biggest artistic productions, for both the international and domestic markets, with a huge level of consumption.
VOX: If you could estimate, how many dialects of Spanish are there that are
spoken in North, Central and South America, and which of those dialects are most in demand?
SILVANA: I'm sure that there are many more Spanish dialects or accents than
the number of countries in North, Central and South America. Indeed, there are lots of accents in the same country with a slight difference in their musicality or intonation, so it's very difficult to reduce them to a definite number.
That's why Neutral Spanish from Latin America was created; it aims to merge all the Spanish dialects into a single one and is based on a kind of formal Mexican Spanish. Nowadays international producers are asking for Argentinean Spanish. So I can assure that the most demanded accents are Spanish Argentinean and Neutral Spanish.
VOX: You offer voice over coaching services for Spanish speaking talent. Could
you tell me a little bit about how you teach and what your specialties are?
SILVANA: I have created my own system because I teach not only what I have
learned long ago but also what I felt and experienced in my career over the years. As each person is unique, I customize the lessons according to what I hear and see in the first interview.
I specialize in detecting what each talent needs and I work in helping them to achieve their best performance. I know about the fears and doubts a student may have, so my goal is to help them realize and understand what their strengths and challenges are so that they can start working from there on, not allowing their insecurities to stop them from growing or even setting them back.
I train my students with everyday situations, with exercises we can find in any magazine, reading any book or newspaper and I pay special attention to songs because there you can find not only the correct pronunciation but also the popular expressions and - the most important - it is a great way to become fluent when speaking Spanish because the rhythm makes you surf with words over the music.
The training has easy and funny exercises - reading, listening, describing as well as writing - in order to expand the vocabulary by using imagination and every day situations. I never forget that a professional voice needs first to learn about vocal cords, relaxation,
breathing, volume training, diction and comprehension. They'll learn the benefits of diaphragmatic breathing for daily life, how to look after the voice in order to avoid fatigue, prevent injuries and improve productivity, and also to practice expressing themselves in an articulate manner with correct positioning of the voice.
I am very passionate about voice over coaching and my goal is giving my students all the tools they can keep forever and use them at any circumstance.
VOX: Are you able to help Spanish talent who have regional accents adopt a more cosmopolitan accent, and if so, which accent(s) preferred?
SILVANA: I have experience in training Spanish talents to adopt cosmopolitan
accents. A professional Spanish talent nowadays must learn to speak Spanish Argentinean and the Latin American Neutral to be competitive. As said above, these are the accents on demand and I'm sure this will last for a long time.
The cosmopolitan Spanish accent its easier to adopt if you learn it in a global way, not only trying to catch the correct pronunciation but to understand Spanish identity through their music and popular artistic expressions. That will make someone be fluent and quicker to think in a cosmopolitan Spanish way.
VOX: While we're on the subject, how hard is it for a native speaker of Spanish to
neutralize their accent when speaking in English? It must be difficult to adapt, especially if a person is a native speaker of Castilian Spanish. Any thoughts on this?
SILVANA: Well, this is very interesting. I've noticed that native Spanish speakers have more difficulties with pronunciation when they learn English in their adult life and I experienced that the best way to learn and adopt the correct pronunciation and English ways is when you are young, preferably at school or somewhere else, with intensive training and by listening teachers speak in English. However, training always pays off, so adopting an accurate accent is possible with the correct exercises for each kind of difficulty you may encounter. This will improve - as well as in Spanish - if you "rehearse" listening to music and watching films in English.
VOX: How do you perceive the English voice over market? How hard is it for a
Spanish voice to break through?
SILVANA: I celebrate the Internet as an international connection because this
allows Spanish voices to introduce themselves in the English voice over market but so far this is only possible if they can communicate fluently in English. Nowadays being bilingual is mandatory, talents must be bilingual to be competitive in the International Voice Over
Market. We face a Very Big Black Hole.
VOX: There are many people in the market who say that they can speak Spanish
who are not native speakers. How would a customer be able to tell the difference?
SILVANA: I think the difference is notorious for a native Spanish speaker but
may not be for a customer that doesn't know the language very well and yet needs a Spanish voice. In such case it's necessary to have a Spanish consultant that can detect if the pronunciation is correct and accurate. I've noticed that some big companies have their own Spanish Linguistic Committee, which subjects recordings to listening and revisions before airing them. They have tested me in several opportunities and I think this is a great process for them to assure the quality.
VOX: Lastly, I was wondering if there are any associations or groups that Spanish voice over talent can join to keep connected and informed. Are you part of any organizations or unions that serve Spanish talent in particular that you could refer?
SILVANA In Argentina there's a voice over professionals association but it is not
so helpful when it comes to finding jobs or connecting voices with producers. So each voice has to distribute demos anywhere possible (studios, production companies, or elsewhere even remotely related to the market) in the hopes of being "discovered" and eventually hired, if producers remember they have the demo when the opportunity
Becoming a voice over certified professional is very difficult and hard to achieve in Argentina, but then I feel professionals have an even harder time looking for a job in the marketplace.
The other fact is that there's a law in Argentina that says a voice over professional must be certified to name the brands so not all the voices are allowed to work for this market. This reduces the local possibilities.
So the Argentinean market is very competitive and in addition the voices that work are - in general - the ones producers and marketing executives already know so this derives in fewer opportunities because only a small group is able to work. Typically you can hear a TV producer say "I needed a new voice for a TV show and I didn't know where to find it so I hired the one I already knew!" while out there lots of talents are waiting for a chance.
It is also true that not every voice is talented but there are many voices with expertise. This is the biggest challenge for Spanish voices in their own market. Only a few voices do most of the work, and the media ends up with a narrow range of talents.
This is one of the strongest reasons why I think it is necessary to create a Spanish site to allow voices to audition for different countries.
VOX: Is there anything I left out that you'd like to share with our audience?
SILVANA: Your questions inspired me to think about the Spanish talents' real
challenges more in depth. I think our community is in need of a Spanish Voice Over site, in our own language, and in this way making it available for all the Spanish speaking actors in the whole market.
I would be thrilled to be part of a site like this, where Spanish talents from all over the world could be connected, sharing experiences and learning more in their own language for equal opportunities and much more voices for the producers to contact, hiring who best fits for each piece.
It will also be a great experience for the local voice over talents to get used to auditioning together with different voices.
The market is in constant expansion and the best we can do is to share the knowledge and help professionals to develop their careers not only in their local markets. I hope I can help with this mission because I really think in this way everybody wins.
Looking forward to hearing from you!
Silvana and Stephanie
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