We met Fatima Ptacek, who does the voice of Dora on the Nickelodeon TV show "Dora the Explorer," at Planet Hollywood in Manhattan recently. We first spoke to her in English, and then did the same interview with her in Spanish.
How do you know what a character's voice should sound like?
I watched her until I was a little old for Dora, until I was 7. So I already knew how she spoke. With Dora, I speak in my own voice. I don't copy exactly. I just do the same kind of thing that they do. Some are really high pitched and super excited all the time, smiling and having a lot of fun all the time, going on adventures and trying to inspire young kids, and I guess older kids too because I'm sure there are a lot of kids out there who still watch Dora at an older age like I did.
Who taught you Spanish?
Spanish was my first language. Both of my parents speak Spanish. My mom is Ecuadorean. I learned English when I went to school. My dad is actually American, but he learned Spanish from my mom, which I think is really romantic. So I just learned from home.
What is the most rewarding part of being the voice of Dora?
It is being able to put a smile on millions of kids' faces just by talking. If you think about it, there are millions of kids watching me and just by talking I make them smile, and laugh and stand up and dance and play and have their own little imaginary world. I think it's so exciting because when I was younger I did the same thing, so now I get to do that. And also I get to educate children. Some kids they might not be able to go to school, but they might have a TV or they know someone who has a TV and Dora can teach them English and Spanish.
What happens if you have a sore throat?
If I have a sore throat then they definitely don't make me do any sessions because they don't want me to hurt my voice -- they just want me to get better. So usually I just have like a cup of tea or something at home or do homework. I don't go to sessions because they don't want me to strain my voice, they don't want me to hurt it anymore. So they're really good with that. They make sure that I'm well taken care of.
How did you meet Boots?
Boots, his name is Regan Mizrahi, the actual actor behind the voice of Boots. I've known him since I was 5. I knew him before he got the role of Boots. It was pretty exciting because we were really, really close friends. We did a bunch of jobs together, and then when I turned 10 I found out that he was the voice of Boots and I was the voice of Dora. We were both really very excited because we absolutely adore each other. We've been friends for such a long time. So when I found out, it was really, really exciting.
What do you think of the show?
I love the show and I'm not just saying that because I'm the voice. I absolutely love the show. Ever since I was little I totally adored it. I think it's great that Dora's teaching children Spanish and sometimes even English. There are so many different languages all over the world. There are different voices all across the country. And also, I just feel that Dora is amazing. She's so inspiring and she's super adventurous, brave and loyal. She has all these great traits that she gets to teach other children.
Are you the voice of any other characters?
Currently, no, but I have done some voice work in the past for Nickelodeon, and I also did -- have you guys heard of the show "Team Umizoomi"? I did a couple of voices for that. I was like a little piggy or a turtle or something. But this is my first real voice character.
Did you always want to be in show business?
When I was little I guess I didn't really think about it because I started when I was 5. When you're little you don't really think about being famous, or at least I didn't. It was just recommended to me. So my parents and I figured, well, we might as well just try it and see how it goes. And I was successful from the beginning, and I fell in love with it right away. I absolutely adore what I do, and I wouldn't do it if I didn't like it.
When you are recording a show, do each of the characters record their part separately or do you record them together in the studio?
We all record it separately. There's so many kids on the show, it would be kind of hard to have all those kids in one booth. We have a couple of booths in the studio so the first booth is really, really big, so technically it could be done, but I think it would be more productive if we do our lines separately. We have a voice director, so the director says all the other lines and then when it's my line, I say my lines.
How long have you been the voice of Dora?
I've been the voice of Dora for three years now. It's been a great journey and I hope I get to continue with it as long as possible. I actually just found out that they're making a new version of Dora -- in this shows she's 8 -- and now they're making a new show where she's 10. It's called "Dora and Friends: Into the City," and I was offered the role of Dora in the older version, so I'm going to be working on that a couple of years. too.
How did you meet Swiper?
Swiper, fun fact, he's the same voice as the voice of Map. If you watch it over again you will hear like a little similarity in the voice. But I work with a whole bunch of the different team members, so he's actually part of production as well. I not only met him as the voice, but also just working on Nickelodeon.
How do you feel about having your own TV show?
I love it. It's so much fun and it's fascinating that I get to be a lead in a show. Hopefully I could do my own live action show as well with Nickelodeon. I hope because I absolutely love the family that I'm with, but sometimes I feel like "iCarly," "Victorious" . . . I love those girls. That's always kind of been one of my goals. I want to continue with what I do no matter what exactly it is that I do.
How did you get the talking backpack?
I guess they just kind of came up with some . . . they wanted a little gadget or something for Dora to have, so now that she has the backpack, it helps her out all the time.
How is Diego related to Dora?
Diego is Dora's cousin. He's really, really important to her because he's the older one. He's kind of like an older brother, kind of to her, they're always together. Maybe not as much in the episodes, but always in games and stuff and toys. They're always together because they love each other so much. They're really special to each other because they're both explorers, and they go on adventures and they teach kids really important things.