(Interview conducted November, 2008.)
I was thrilled to speak with Caitlin Sanchez recently. At 12 years old, she’s an up-and-coming actress whose star is rising by the minute.
Last week, I watched her in an episode of NBC’s “Lipstick Jungle,” but more importantly, she’s the new voice of “Dora the Explorer”! Read on for Caitlin’s thoughts on being a preschool icon, playing jazz piano, and her favorite cartoons.
Jane: Hi, Caitlin, how are you?
Caitlin: I’m good!
Jane: Great! It’s so cool that you’re the new Dora. What’s it like for you stepping into that role?
Caitlin: It’s a great honor to be Dora, because she’s a great role model for children. I feel really honored to be playing her.
Jane: Did you grow up watching her?
Caitlin: Yes, I’m very familiar with the show. It came out when I was about four years old.
Jane: How do you actually do the show? What’s the process like?
Caitlin: I go into a recording studio and into a booth, and I put on headphones and have a script in front of me. I do one line about 10 different times, and then I move onto the next line. We keep doing that until the whole script is done.
Jane: Are any of the other characters there, or are they all done separately?
Caitlin: All the characters record separately, so I’m pretty much alone. Only the directors are in the booth with me.
Jane: Since Dora speaks Spanish, do you speak Spanish, too?
Caitlin: Yeah, I’m Cuban American. My parents were born in America, but my grandparents are Cuban.
Jane: I see you’ve done other things, too. You play the daughter of Rodrigo in “Lipstick Jungle.” Do you plan on continuing to do other things while you’re doing Dora?
Caitlin: Yes, definitely. I plan to continue acting and other projects, and I’m also a musician. I sing and play the piano, so I definitely want to continue that.
Jane: What’s your role on “Lipstick Jungle”? I’ve been reviewing that show for another site, and I’m hooked on it.
Caitlin: My character’s name is Celia, and my father is played by Carlos Ponce. He’s dating Lindsay Price’s character, and I don’t really like her in this episode.
Jane: You also play The White Queen in “Phoebe in Wonderland.” Did you work with Felicity Huffman on that?
Caitlin: I didn’t get to work with her in any scenes, but I ran into her on set, and I’ve met her. I had scenes with Elle Fanning. I play one of her classmates.
Jane: Do you think kids will realize there’s a new voice for Dora? Do people seem ok with it so far?
Caitlin: So far, everything seems ok, but I tried to imitate the original voice of Dora as best I could. I put my own flavor to Dora, but in general, I try to keep with her original character — her confidence, determination, and energy.
Jane: It’s great for kids that age to see a strong girl who’s adventurous and willing to try new things. Do your friends think it’s pretty cool?
Caitlin: Yeah, they actually love it. They’re really excited and happy for me.
Jane: What are your favorite animated shows?
Caitlin: I still watch “Arthur.”
Jane: Oh, we love “Arthur.”
Caitlin: Yeah, I love that show, too. I also watched “Blues Clues” when I was little, and I still watch “The Fairly Odd Parents” and “SpongeBob Squarepants.” And I like “Drake and Josh.”
Jane: We love “Drake and Josh” in this household! Anything else you want to say about Dora or any upcoming projects?
Caitlin: I love being Dora, and once again, she’s a great role model for children. There’s also a new DVD called “Dora Saves the Snow Princess.” It’s a great adventure and really educational for children.
Jane: Ok, sounds great. Well, thanks so much for all your time.
Caitlin: Thank you, Jane.
Image: Caitlin Sanchez, October, 2008; Dora Saves the Snow Princess, Nickelodeon, 2008