Before making the referral decision based on just “meeting” a colleague you do a little research. Dig. Look into their career. I can promise that this will save you a big headache!
Before referring a Spanish-speaking voice over colleague to a producer based on just "meeting” that colleague, do a little research. Dig. Look into their career.
I can promise that this will save you a big headache!
Those who know me at a professional level know that I am a strong advocate of my first language: Spanish. This is a feeling that has grown stronger over time, especially from the moment I decided to reside in the United States.
As a professional Spanish voice over artist – and a curious human being - I became aware that in this profession I was surrounded by talents that, although Spanish speaking, were not 100% native or who didn't have a complete understanding of the grammatical rules and nuances of the language.
However, they were recording for big ad agencies, or even became the institutional voices for top TV and radio networks in the country.
With time, I understood that this phenomenon is, as we say in my native country Uruguay (and hoping that it won't get lost in translation): "It is not the pig’s fault, but rather from the one petting it.”
This means that the responsibility does not lie with the voice over talents, but with those choosing them for their projects (in this case, producers, agencies, studios, etc,) … or sometimes, those referring them!
THE NATIVE SPANISH SPEAKER
In our industry, the Latino presence is growing every day. I would even say that some of these talents are second or third generation of Latino immigrants – people who grew up speaking Spanish at home, but who, with time, lost some of the language's richness.
Therefore, the selection parameters for a good native Spanish speaker voice over and a good (or bad) non-native Spanish speaker voice over are very limited.
Of course, there are quite a few exceptions, but this reflection is based on a general analysis.
What defines a Native Spanish Speaker voice talent?
- The Native Speaker (NS) learns the language from infancy. It IS their first language.
- The NS has intuition of its own dialect (individual variety from the language).
- The NS has trustworthy intuitions about the language that is shared with those in the same linguistic community.
- The NS has an extraordinary capacity to produce fluent and spontaneous speech, representing pauses especially on phrase limits, and a great capacity to store lexical units. Furthermore, both in production and comprehension, a NS shows ample communication competence.
- The NS has an extraordinary creative writing capacity, including literature at all levels.
Taking these characteristics into our profession, those of us who are NS can effortlessly identify when a script has grammatical and composition errors, making it very easy to communicate this to the person(s) in charge. We can help prevent campaign failures.
During dubbing or lip-sync sessions, NS voice overs are in a position to offer quick and accurate solutions to adapt a script, without losing context or message effectiveness.
WHEN YOU REFER A COLLEAGUE ...
I would like to tell to my dear English-speaking colleagues that in the U.S. we have many excellent native Spanish speaking voice over talents who profoundly respect the Spanish language.
But when an occasion arises to refer a Spanish-speaking colleague, don’t be guided by just having met them at an industry conference or event.
I understand it can be a little difficult to refer someone, especially when we do not fully understand his or her language. This is why I strongly suggest that before making the referral decision, you do a little research. Dig. Look into their career.
There is nothing worse than referring someone to a client, who will later come back to you completely disappointed in the results! It is your reputation and your brand in front of your client!
WHAT TO RESEARCH
Here are some suggestions to keep in mind, next time you are thinking about referring a Spanish-speaking colleague:
- Look At Their Website. The quality of their design reflects their dedication and professionalism. Although, sometimes it does not say it all, therefore…
- Read Their Bio. Look for a place of birth, and in case he/she migrated to a non-Spanish speaking country, look for how long ago that happened. The shorter the time, the more pure the Spanish.
- Check Their Client List. Look for important and recognizable brands. This may indicate their experience, prestige and quality of their voice over work.
- Examine Clients' Testimonials. A voice over talent that does not offer client testimonials may do so because: a) does not have them, or b) does not care to share them. Who doesn't want to show what their clients think of their work? This, to me, is extremely important!
- Google Them! Use their name and country of origin. This may give you another way to verify their information. The more results under their name, the bigger the chance will be that their career is a solid, professional one. And a greater variety of scenarios indicates more versatility and trajectory.
- YouTube, Vimeo, SoundCloud ... Where these channels are associated to a voice talent's name, there is high indicatation that their voices have been used in big campaigns, and that he or she is proud to show that work.
BEWARE LAST NAMES!
Latin vs. non-Latin last names can be confusing.
For instance, a Fernández or López last name does not ensure that the quality of the Spanish is NS.
There are many Americans from Latino descent in the U.S. whose first language is English. They might have learned Spanish phonetically (spoken at home), but do not know how to read or fluently speak it.
Look at me: my last name is Fojgiel and you would not imagine that this is a Uruguayan last name. Well, I was born and raised in that South American country, I am from Jewish origin and my ancestors are from Poland. However, I barely speak Hebrew and I do not know a single Polish word - but I speak perfect Spanish!
So do not guide your referral solely by a last name.
SPANISH POPULATION GROWING
As English-speaking voice over artists - and firm believers that English should be perfectly spoken when used on any project where the English language is required - we want you to understand that it is the same for those who speak Spanish and consume their content in Spanish.
However, we have a bigger challenge because we live in an English-speaking country, where it is estimated that in 30 years, the U.S. will surpass Mexico as the country with the highest population of Spanish speakers in the world.
Sadly, in our industry, Spanish loses more and more of its virtue because the "decision makers” don’t know or speak the language, and therefore, cannot differentiate an excellent
Spanish voice over from one that it is not.
Help us raise the level of the Spanish-language voice over quality by referring 100% Native Spanish voice over talents who:
- honor their language,
- understand it and speak it perfectly, and
- are the standard bearers and ambassadors of their culture!
I assure you that with your valuable help, we can make the voice over industry more respected and valued.