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Why you need a bilingual voice over actor?

Updated: Jan 22, 2023

The need for bilingual voice actors that speak both English and Spanish has grown as the world becomes increasingly interconnected. Hiring a bilingual voice over actor for your project has many efficiencies and benefits (like saving time and money).



How do you choose a bilingual voice over actor for your project and what qualities should they have? 


First and probably most important, you should pick a voice actor who is proficient in both languages,and remember,proficient doesn't mean flawless English or Spanish, just that they have native understanding of the language(s). In light of that, It is important to note that  sometimes, producers are looking for accented English or Spanish to give their production a global, more exotic flair.  


In addition to fluency (if that's what you are going for), it's important to consider the voice actor's accent into account. You should select a voice actor for English or Spanish productions who has a "neutral" accent in both languages. This should help minimize any potential cultural misunderstandings and assure that the voice over is clearly understood by listeners in both languages.


In some cases,as stated above, a voice over job requires a specific accent or dialect within the chosen language(s). For instance, an ad campaign may want to make "good fun" of a Boston or New York


accent to catch the attention of the audience. The copywriter or ad agency executive (or the client), may also call for a Southern American English accent (some voice over actors are good at impersonating accents, even if they are not from that area) to evoke a certain


feel for their brand or message, for a very specific audience that identifies with the idiosyncrasies of that dialect and region. 


In the United States, usually the most sought after "accent" is Midwestern English, which is known for its flat, monotone way of being spoken. It is often associated with the "neutral" (there's not such a thing) American accent used widely on TV, radio, web and other media.


Conversely in Spanish, there are hundreds of variations depending on the country (or even regions within a country) of origin of the speaker . 


In Latin America, the "mother language" is Castilian Spanish (Latin was the main "granma language" along with Arabic plus other Indo-European languages),but in the United States, Castilian is not commonly used for audio productions (unless you are specifically creating a campaign with that "feel" for impact).


Being the melting pot that the USA is, the most used accent used for voice over productions is the "Neutral Latin American Spanish" (again, a neutral accent doesn't exist, but this is the accepted term).


There's an urban myth that talks about the origins of the "Latin American Neutral Spanish" that may have some truth to it.


Story goes, that back in the early days of Hollywood, movie studios, and Walt Disney particularly, wanted to dub their movies to Spanish and wanted to distribute them to Latin America. They were then made aware of all the different variations, colloquialisms, meanings and slang that was used in the American continent.


Since it was not economically feasible (nor practical or efficient) to create a unique version for each country and region; Disney Studios (and all other movie studios as well), decided to use a standard version of Spanish that would include only "fully pronounced and articulated, "dictionary" Spanish (Latin American that is) without any particular modisms" (definition is ours), so that moviegoers from Mexico to Patagonia would understand and enjoy their productions (without being distracted by unusual words or regional lingo). So that's that, please take it with a grain of salt.


The truth is that each project is unique and the casting calls nowadays reflect an increasingly diverse palette of accents; that's why it's important to listen to the voice actor's demos and read reviews or client testimonials. This should give you a pretty good idea of the voice over actor's linguistic abilities to produce the results that you (or your client) are looking for.








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