Think about how people or brands show up on your radar.
Marketing wisdom says it takes 7-10 “exposures” for people to even recognize that you or your business exists.
Other things that come into play:
- an attitude of excellence
- abundance of talent
- willingness to help
- personal contact
- hard work
There’s more, but certainly a person or business meeting the above criteria might be someone you’d want to hire, or associate with, or have in your circle of friends, no?
And so it is that Simone Fojgiel showed up on my radar. First at conferences, then on social media, in forums, and by email. She is progressive, active in the VO community, and on fire to bring Spanish-speaking and bilingual voice-actors into some semblance of organization globally — no small feat given the many countries and dialects that exist in that population.
To my view, no one is better poised for the task. A Uruguayan native, Fojgiel paid her dues in radio and other media in Montevideo before choosing to come to Florida to develop her growing global business. She spends a lot of time between the two countries, and enjoys the associations of professional organizations in two worlds.
Simone is the official translator of the World-Voices Organization newsletter, and that’s just one example of the offers to help she has made to the VO community at large. Simone is busy, and we are all the beneficiaries.
Now, she’s taken on an even more active role in communicating her ideals to the Spanish Speaking VO community…launching a blog specifically for that working set. Next year, she will be the Program Director for the Spanish Day Program in VO Atlanta…the first time, there’ll be an entire day within a conference dedicated to the Spanish speaking VO Community.
I asked her about all that and more in some prepared questions. You can see her answers below.
1) The Spanish language has emerged in the USA as the dominant #2 preferred language for voice-over opportunities. How much of your business is done in Spanish?
90% of my business is done in Spanish. 80% of it in Neutral/Latin American Spanish; 20% in Uruguayan/Argentinean accented Spanish (they both sound practically the same!)
2) How much of a consideration is it to be able to speak the different regional Spanish dialects (re: Puerto Rican, Uruguyan, Mexican, Castilian, etc.)?
Since in the US there’s a huge and diversified Latin American community, companies prefer to use talents who are fluent in Neutral accented Spanish, that is, a Universal Spanish that can be understood by anyone in La Paz, Bolivia, in Montevideo, Uruguay, or in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. And that’s not only a matter of terminology, but also about the “music” and accents used.
Dominating original and regional accents is wonderful if you are recording for a particular country or public… and if you were born and lived there for many years. It’s not the same if you are an expertise recording in Neutral/Latin American Spanish rather than recording in a pure Uruguayan accent when you weren’t born there.
3) Did you move to the U-S to better position yourself to a global Spanish-Speaking voicever market?
When I moved to the US, I was already working for the Global Marketplace a year and a half earlier. I felt I had to move forward in my career because there was no more potential of growth in Uruguay (population: 3.3 million people!). In the meantime, I met my husband (also Uruguayan) who was already living in the US during a trip he made to Montevideo. After we met, we kept a long distance relationship for 3 years with so many trips in between, and we finally decided to get married in 2006.
Of course that this all brought me to a more exciting stage in my career, which led me to establishing myself in this competitive market. I immediately noticed that there was an exciting niche to explore, that the possibilities of expanding my career in the US where for real due to the explosive changes the American economy, culture, and society were experiencing thanks to the Latino influence.
Being a 100% native Spanish speaking VO Talent helped me A LOT, and being an English-Spanish Translator, too. One of the big challenges the US Media has today is to rely on professionals who, besides having the right Spanish voice for their product, also offer the ability of speaking and reading/writing PURE SPANISH. Our language is so rich and beautiful, and unfortunately in America, Spanish is getting more and more deformed. Since we are representing our culture, our history, we also need to defend our language by pronouncing it, reading and writing it correctly. It’s unacceptable to call to an important Cable company and hearing that a Spanish speaking employee has recorded all messages in “Spanglish” when they are offering the option of following all instructions in Spanish. At least, for me is so disrespectful from the company to its customers… and to my culture.
4) Upon moving to the U-S were you surprised at the level of cooperation, and the friendliness of the native voice-over community?
ABSOLUTELY. I admire the way the American VO Community helps each other, just for the pleasure of doing it. I believe that we Latin Americans have so much to learn from you. I also believe this is a matter of our own History. Latin American countries always had to face hard moments with their economy, there’s always been a big gap between the poor and the rich, the possibilities of being recognized and getting promoted at work are very frustrating. In the US, on the other hand, those possibilities are for real, because this is the largest economy in the world, and the country itself DEMANDS CONSTANT CHANGE, opportunities, new ideas, new ventures, so the whole machine keeps rolling and never stops. That leads to optimism, and therefore people get contagious, and more spiritual as well. I had the chance to meet colleagues in several events, and they automatically felt that I deserved their help, their empathy, their kindness, their love, so my career could open to better possibilities.
Those things are not frequent in Latin America, because people want to preserve their sources for themselves as if that was a matter of survival. Opportunities of growth there are just for a few group of professionals, and they are not that open to share their contacts, afraid of being ripped off by a colleague.
I sincerely believe that that way of thinking promotes professional mediocrity and spiritual poverty. Throughout all these years in which I had the chance to attend to many events and meet recognized colleagues like you, for instance, I learned that the more you give, the more you share, the more bless you’ll be, the more you’ll receive. It’s the Law of Attraction. It works.
Networking in the US is the most common thing to do, because Americans see in every opportunity a chance of growing, of improving. For us, Latin Americans, networking is very hard, because we are shy or very passive. We expect things to happen by themselves, instead of making them happen. That’s why, for instance, our countries find extremely hard to jump to a more proactive level. We think too much about the Past, while the Present is here and now, and that’s the only thing we depend on to build our Future.
5) What are you hoping to achieve in creating better relations among Spanish-Speaking voiceover talents?
We Spanish speaking talents need to become very aware that we represent a big force in this Industry and that we have to organize ourselves as a block, in unity. We need to start creating virtual and non-virtual events so we can exchange ideas, experiences and projects in order to make our work more valuable and respected by all the decision makers.
Unfortunately, Spanish VO Talents don’t get equally paid for the same job compared to their American colleagues. And believe it or not, Latino Media companies despise us by paying rates that for any American talent would be insulting. So this is a vicious circle that makes you wonder who’s responsible for the depreciation of our work: companies, or Latino Talents themselves?
We come from countries where you don’t have the right to ask for a raise, or claim to get paid accordingly for your talent, because if you do so you’re under the risk of being put aside or fired. So we imported this low self-esteem to the US and now not only Latino companies apply that standard here, too, but even American companies assume that we are “Class B” VO Talents, too.
This is something that needs to change, and the only way to do so is by getting organized, improving our skills, exchanging ideas and showing to the rest of the Industry that not only we’re not “Class B” service providers, but that we are as professionals as any other experienced English speaking American Talent as well.
If you have a loser mindset, then everyone is going to look at you the same way.
6) What is the biggest roadblock?
Our idiosycrasies. We have to remove from our attitude the poor image we have built around ourselves, assuming that we don’t deserve to get paid as much as an American Talent, for example. The very moment we change that chip in our brain, the whole system will look at us with more respect. That’s something that can be translated in the Life we create for ourselves: the more self esteem you build around you, the more respect you’ll gain from those who surround you.
We Hispanic Talents need to understand that as soon as we start looking at each other as partners in success and not as a threat, then the entire professional landscape ahead will align with our deserved recognition.
7) You are developing an all-Spanish-language blog. What is the URL?, and how will you use your new blog to help create a new understanding among Spanish-speaking VO talent?
I want to transmit a sense of enthusiasm, optimism and creativity to all the Spanish speaking VO Community in order to build and transform our careers. I feel that we need to talk about topics that reflect our shortages, our deficits, but also I want to “infect” everyone with a sense of challenge.
We’re in the right place, in the right time. Spanish is almost the second official language in the US; Latinos are the largest minority in this country; politicians would do anything today to get the votes of millions of Latinos, because they understand that they are a huge economic force in America who progressed and conquered amazing roles in this society.
The Latino Media is getting richer and richer, too. So we need to be prepared as much as we can for all the changes that are happening right now.
That’s why I believe we need to talk about the use of our language, for instance. Are we recording scripts that are professionally translated? Are we accepting jobs that are horribly written, that underestimate our culture, and we say nothing…afraid of the possible reaction the client may have?
Do agents really know how to manage the career of Spanish VO Talents? Do they know how to promote them? What happens in a studio when there’s no VO Director helping a Spanish VO Talent to bring out her/his very best?
These are just a few topics I’m planning to talk about in a near future on my blog J
8) You will be coordinating the day-long focus on Spanish Speaking voice-over talent at the upcoming VO Atlanta conference. What are your goals?
First, I want to thank Gerald Griffith for believing in me and giving me all his support for making this happen. I’m so grateful to him, because for me he’s a dream maker. It’s been a few years since began trying to put this together. The more conferences I attended, the more I convinced myself that definitely our VO Community needs and deserves an event of our own. The problem is that we Latinos are very slow to put ideas to work, so having Gerald as my mentor is a privilege, because he’s so executive, pragmatic, and passionate about what he does.
I have too many goals: the first one, is to have at least 40 Spanish speaking VO Talents attending to VO Atlanta from all over the country, and FINALLY put ourselves to work for our future. We need to focus in our needs, address our own concerns and reality. We need to start being more inventive so we can incentivate our careers.
Where are we right now? What’s our own reality today? What’s our real demand? Are Spanish VO Talents getting fairly paid? What’s the Industry doing for us? What’s the economy saying about our potential market and what can we do to enhance our professional possibilities? These are some of my own concerns.
Top Producers, Agents, Advertising Creatives, Latin Media executives, that’s the profile of special guests we have in mind to invite for our Spanish Day Program. Also, we want to dedicate some time to improve our techniques with top Spanish speaking coaches, so as you can see, a day just won’t be enough!
I’m convinced that everyone who attends to our Spanish Day Program will feel so excited and will ask: “Why didn’t we do this before?”.
9)What can North American Voice Over talent do to help you facilitate greater unity to the Spanish-Speaking VO community?
This question talks about how generous American VO Talents are, as we were talking before. Thanks for asking!! The first thing that comes to my mind is “creating more room in your media for us”. I’m pretty sure many of you don’t know how to approach that subject in your blogs, in your forums. Well, here is Simone! I sincerely need your support so we’ll slowly be reaching many talents who are 100% bilingual, for instance, and they have no idea about all these projects we’re working on.
We Latin American talents living in the US are part of the VO Community as well, and I’m pretty sure there’s a lot of experiences that we can share with you too, that can make your careers richer!
10) Do you see a willingness of Spanish-speaking voice talent to join an advocacy group like World-Voices Organization?
There’s a Spanish speaking voice talent group already working. We got together a couple of times via Skype and the results were amazing. On this first stage we understand that we need to work in a small group in order to organize with detail all the subjects that demand more urgency so we can introduce them to the board. We are determined to invest our knowledge, experience and time to make things happen for the well being of all the Spanish VO Community around the world. We understand this is not just a discussion virtual café, but a very proactive group, looking for tangible results. The World-Voices Organization is absolutely one of the reasons why I’m so inspired this year, too. Giving all my best to promote the artistica, professional and economic success of freelance Spanish voice actors around the world, represents a spiritual challenge for me too. I’m so grateful to WoVO for having the confidence in me to give me the responsibility of being like a US Ambassador for Latin America and expand our beliefs among other Spanish VO Talents in the US, is a blessing for me today.