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The VO Boss podcast blends business advice with inspiration & motivation for today's voice talent. Each week, host Anne Ganguzza shares guest interviews + voice over industry insights to help you grow your business and stay focused on what matters...

May 31, 2022

After holding the first ever #VOBOSS Bilingual Audition Challenge, Anne & Pilar welcome the winners onto the show. Joe Lewis, Milena Benefiel, and Ramesh Mahtani share the process behind their winning entry, what stood out to Anne & Pilar when judging the contest as well as what it means to be a bilingual voice talent in today’s industry.


>> It’s time to take your business to the next level, the BOSS level! These are the premiere Business Owner Strategies and Successes being utilized by the industry’s top talent today. Rock your business like a BOSS, a VO BOSS! Now let’s welcome your host, Anne Ganguzza.

Pilar: Hola, BOSS Voces. Bienvenidos al podcast con Anne Ganguzza y Pilar Uribe.

Anne: Hey, hey. Hey everyone. Welcome to the VO BOSS podcast. I'm your host Anne Ganguzza, and today we have a very, very special episode planned for you. Not only am I here with my awesome special guest co-host Pilar Uribe -- woohoo Pilar!

Pilar: Hi, Anne.

Anne: Thanks for being here. We are so honored to be here with our VO BOSS bilingual audition challenge winners. So a huge welcome to our English audition winner, Joe Lewis. Yay!

Joe: Hello.

Ramesh: Hello, Joe.

Anne: And our Spanish audition winner --

Pilar: Milena Benefiel.

Anne: Yay! Hey Milena.

Milena: Hi.

Anne: And then our best English and Spanish audition, Ramesh Mahtani. Yay! So first of all, congratulations, everybody, on your wins.

Joe: Thank you.

Milena: Thank you, gracias.

Ramesh: Gracias.

Anne: It's very exciting. For those BOSSes that are just joining us and have not joined us before now, Pilar and I ran a bilingual audition challenge contest, which featured a Toyota commercial in both English and Spanish. And this was about, I'm gonna say, three to four weeks ago, and we had a number of submissions. I think it was over what, Pilar, like 130 or something like that?

Pilar: Yeah.

Anne: Or close to 130.

Pilar: Yeah.

Anne: And so first of all, everybody did a wonderful job, but we are so, so incredibly excited to have the winners with us today to talk about being bilingual in the industry today and what it takes. So let's start with our English winner, Mr. Joe Lewis. Yay, Joe. Joe, tell us a little bit about yourself and then I wanna play your winning audition.

Joe: Okay. Well thank you for having me here. First of all, it's great to be with you all. I am a bilingual voiceover and voice actor, born in the US, Spanish father, American mother. And basically I've been back and forth in the States to Spain and from Spain to the States at different points of my life. And it's been a trip or several trips. You learn to adapt where you are and you do as the Romans do. And you learn a lot of stuff because you have to leverage two cultures, two languages. It's a thing.

Anne: Yeah, absolutely. So first of all, let's play your winning audition. And I wanna tell you a little bit about the specs. Our specs indicated that the voice should be confident, knowledgeable, optimistic, never take themselves too seriously, but at the same time, never come off as sarcastic either, warm human down to earth, playful <laugh> spontaneous, conversational, relatable, and above all else, nothing that is typical commercial sounding, movie trailer, or announcery at all. So.

Milena: All the things, all the things.

Anne: All the things.

Pilar: In other words, the kitchen sink.

Anne: All the things. Totally. And I want to give a big shout out to the queen bee herself, Liz Atherton, and CastVoices for her sponsoring this contest and offering our winners a year pro membership to CastVoices. You guys,, go and get yourself an account. Liz is amazing and always has the voice talents' backs. I'll tell you what, she's amazing. So thank you Liz for that. So let's go ahead and play the warm, human, down to earth, playful, <laugh> not typical commercial sounding, movie trailer or announcery English winning submission by Joe. Here we go.

Joe: Beep. Beep. That is the sound of me signaling that this is a car commercial while being considerate of the fact that you may be on the road. It's exactly this kind of consideration that lets you know, you can trust Toyota and our all new 2022 Highlander SUV to get you where you need to be faster and more reliably. Beep beep beep beep beep. Oops. Sorry. I think my burrito's done.

Anne: <laugh> I love it.

Joe: Thank you.

Anne: I think that that really took every single spec into consideration. <laugh> Joe, did you have any particular strategy when you were doing this audition or what is it that you do to prepare for an audition? Because we had so many submissions, but yours just kind of really stood out from the get-go.

Joe: Well, thank you so much for that. I really appreciate it. As far as strategy, if it's automotive, I take it extra seriously because it's a big genre. So no matter what it is, even if it's a dealership, you know, it could turn into a long-term gig. So you take it seriously. It's always a challenge, uh, to see if it's a soft sell or if it's a harder sell, more promotional. At the same time, as you say, there's lot to consider in the styles or the trends that we work with today, uh, which are very different from 10, 15, 20 years ago. And that's as far as in general or as far as English. As far as Spanish, obviously my origin is of Castilian Spanish, uh, from Spain. So knowing that this would be for the American market, I tried to modulate that and go to a more neutral read and, and taking the specs into consideration as much as I could and have fun, have fun with it.

Anne: Yeah. I think that's so important <laugh> that you have fun with it. Pilar, comments about why we love Joe so much.

Pilar: Listening to it again, I think what, what I really liked about it, this is probably not the right word. It wasn't folksy, but I really felt like I was listening to you, and I was listening to a real person rather than somebody reading it.

Anne: Yeah, I agree.

Pilar: Like, and just the small pauses, the little giggle -- there were some amazing entries, but what I found so interesting about yours was that you had this attitude from the beginning. You weren't serious, and then you went to the punchline. You had this sort of upbeat throughout the entire read. That's what really stood out for me.

Anne: Yeah. Really, really warm smile, I think overall.

Joe: Thank you so much.

Anne: I just felt like.

Pilar: Yeah, yeah.

Anne: I felt like we were just longtime friends, which we are, but listening to, I felt like we were, and it really, really stood out from the beginning. So congratulations, Joe, again --

Joe: Thank you so much.

Anne: -- on that.

Joe: I appreciate it.

Anne: So onto our winner in the Spanish division, Milena.

Milena: Hi.

Anne: Tell us a little bit about yourself and where you're located and your VO journey so far.

Milena: All right. Well Saludos, hola, hi. Milena Benefiel. I am currently located in Orlando, well, near Orlando, Florida. I am the first generation born here in the US. Both of my parents came over from Cartagena, Colombia, woohoo <laugh> and they insisted that I learned Spanish as a child, and I never understood why. Why would I ever need this other language? And look at me now, right? My background was actually in television. I worked part-time as a TV host for a Telemundo affiliate in Spanish and did a lot of commercial acting while also being an ER nurse and ICU nurse.

I came from entrepreneurial parents who had multiple careers, multiple jobs, 'cause they had to, right, coming from another country. So I don't know how to not have too much on my plate. So this was kind of my side hustle. And after COVID I, I took it from part-time to full-time. I, I was kind of burnt out in the hospital, and yeah, I had the ability to go from sounding very middle America English, as you can hear in my, in my accent to speaking [Spanish] speaking in Spanish that's very neutral. It kind of like people are like, are you Colombian or Cuban or from where? So I've been very fortunate in that that I've been able to provide both sides for my clients. So it's been a really fun journey.

Ramesh: Super.

Anne: Yeah. Let's have a listen to the winning entry. Here we go.

Milena: Bip bip. Ese es el sonido que uso para señalar que este es un comercial de autos mientras que usted podría estar conduciendo en la carretera. Este tipo de servicio es lo que le permite saber que puede confiar en Toyota y en nuestra nueva SUV Highlander 2022 para que se transporte de un lugar a otro de la manera más rápida y confiable. Bip bip bip bip bip. Vaya, lo siento, creo que mi burrito está listo.


Ramesh: Super.

Anne: Congratulations again, such a wonderful, warm sound. That's what I really got. And I love how, when we said have fun with this or somebody that doesn't take themselves too seriously, I really felt that in the places where you could -- it opened up to have fun, the more conversational like, "oops, I think my burrito's done." I love the way that you guys brought life to that and brought fun to that that wasn't even as expected. Pilar, your thoughts,

Pilar: You had me from the beginning Milena. This was to me displayed so much warmth and reassurance. I felt like when I listen to it, you're taking me by the hand, and you're reassuring me as a consumer that it's gonna be okay. And it's like, oh yeah, I'll do whatever she says.

Milena: Wow.

PIlar: So that's what I got from this read. It was really, yeah, it was, it was really good read. You just, you got me.

Milena: Oh my goodness. Thank you so much. I am so grateful for that feedback. That's kind of my MO when it comes to anything that I do in VO. I just, I, I wanna be warm and caring and reassuring. That's kind of my, my thing. So that you heard that feels so good because it makes me feel like, wow, okay. I'm, I'm doing what I'm supposed to do. So thank you so much.

Anne: I wanna kind of tag on to what Pilar said. Like for me, I do not speak Spanish, but I could hear the story. If I listen, I could hear your story in there. And when we talk about trusting Toyota, I felt that, and I really felt that you took the words beyond just what was on the page, and really you were in the scene. And like I said, for me to not even speak Spanish but to listen and to be able to hear your storytelling, I thought that that was, that was just really wonderful. So yeah.

Milena: Wow. Thank you so much. Such a huge compliment from two women that I admire very much. So this is a very surreal moment for me. So thank you so much.

Anne: <laugh> well deserved. Well deserved.

Milena: Thank you.

Anne: Okay. So onto our English Spanish combination winner. Ramesh Mahtani yay. Congratulations. Ramesh, tell us a little bit --

Ramesh: Well, thank you very much.

Anne: Yeah. Tell us a little bit about yourself and your journey.

Ramesh: Yeah, well, I suppose like most of us over here, very, very varied background. I mean, I was born in Karachi, Pakistan to Indian parents who perhaps were a bit disgruntled with the way things were going out over there, and they decided to move to the Canary Islands. Why, I have no idea, but that takes me back to when I was about four. So I came over here to the islands, speaking a combination of Sindi, of Hindi, of Urdu. Of course I had to learn Spanish rather quickly. And my parents always wanted me to speak English because they knew that English is the lingua franca, and you wouldn't get anywhere in the world without it. So I grew up in an American school over here in the canaries, and I was shipped off to a horrible concentration camp sort of boarding school in England, which was a nightmare.

Um, I would spend four long miserable years there, which is I suppose, where I picked up the sort of vestige of an English accent. And then I went to America to do my university degree, which was a lot of fun. And I saw what the real world was like. And I didn't, I suppose, switch on to the American accent because wherever I spoke to were like, oh my God, your accent's so cool. Where are you from? Well, I'm originally from -- Oh my God. Keep on speaking. We just love your accent. <laugh> So, um, no, I didn't pick up an American accent, I suppose. I just veered towards what, what I call international or neutral. So that's my story.

And in voice, I I've always played around with my voice. I love switching accents between -- I speak to my parents with a bit of an -- well, my mom. My father passed away -- with an Indian accent. So it changes depending who I talk to, if it is very strong Indian community, well, it becomes Indian, otherwise it's what I speak now. And then of course, in Spanish and English and French and all these sort of, you know, weird voices going on in my head, it was but natural that I followed a voice over career. So that's what brings me here today, basically.

Anne: Wow. Well now you did something interesting with your auditions. You did two takes for both English and Spanish. And so one of the things that stood out to Pilar and I were the fact that you did two different takes for each. And so let's go ahead and play now. Um, I'm gonna click on this one. I'm not sure if this is the English or the Spanish. So hang on one second because the name is, is long. So it's kind of running off my little table here.

Ramesh: Sure.

Anne: It could be either one. Let's put it that way. There we go.

Ramesh: Beep. Beep. That is the sound of me signaling that this is a car commercial while being considerate of the fact that you may be on the road. It's exactly this kind of consideration that lets you know, you can trust Toyota and our all new 2022 Highlander SUV to get you where you need to be faster and more reliably. Beep beep beep beep beep. Oops. Sorry. I think my burrito's done.

Beep. Beep. That is the sound of me signaling that this is a car commercial while being considerate of the fact that you may be on the road. It's exactly this kind of consideration that lets you know, you can trust Toyota and our all new 2022 Highlander SUV to get you where you need to be faster and more reliably. Beep beep beep beep beep. Oops. Sorry. I think my burrito's done.

Anne: I love it. I wanna just make some comments before we played your Spanish entry. I thought, first of all, you had two completely different takes, and now I understand where the accent came from because you were living in the UK. So I get that now. I was not aware of that, but I really loved it because it really wasn't something that felt to me like it was obviously forced or something that wasn't natural to you. And the fact that you did completely different reads shows just some tremendous acting ability, which I think is any good casting director that can hear that knows immediately that they would be able to direct you to do anything really.

And so that was, I thought was really strong about your English entry. And I also liked you had a different reaction and a different emotion about the burrito, which stood out to me, even though it was like a nuanced change. You're like, oh I think my burrito's done. Or Ooh, I think my burrito's done. It really lent a lot to the different reads and the different aspects and the showcasing of your acting abilities. Pilar.

Pilar: Yeah. I felt like you were talking to two different people in the two different reads and that was really significant. And it's funny because I didn't realize it, but they were two different accents, and I was like, they sounds so different, and it's, it's like, oh yeah, duh, because he's so versatile. But that also colored the read because one was a little bit more business-like. The other one was a little bit sort of more off the cuff, more warm. And so it was really interesting to see them together, but they are very different reads, so yeah, that's great.

Ramesh: Well, thank you. Thank you very much. I suppose one of the underlying elements is that I try and make sure that I'm not trying to sell in this case, sell the car, but just say, tell the story, uh, as something that we will often talk about in voiceover direction. As soon as it sounds sort of salesy, you know, you're going the wrong direction. So spice it up, you know, conjure up some magic, just make it sound as if as Pilar said, you know, you're just basically off the cuff having a conversation with someone, without sell, buy this car sort of thing, you know, which we definitely do not want to go there.

Anne: And you know, I don't know if you guys noticed, but in the middle of that script, the sentences were a little bit long. You know how we always get a script and if it's a really lovely, wonderfully written script, we're like, oh yes, it's so easy to voice. We gave you something specifically that may not have been so easy to voice in navigating a long sentence. So.

Ramesh: Ah, you did it purposely.

Anne: Yeah. All of you handled that so well, so kudos on that. I mean, I'm used to doing that because you do a lot of long format narration and coaching my students, there's always unwieldy sentences. And to make it sound truly conversational and you know, as if you're talking to one person or talking to us, you gotta know your rhythm, you gotta kind of know, you gotta put yourself in the scene and understand where those pauses, where the commas are, even if they don't exist.

Ramesh: Yeah. I realize, I thought, my gosh, who's written this, because it is, there was a part where it got really wordy and thought, you know, you have to navigate that.

Pilar: Those were the traps and none of you fell into it.

Anne: Yes. You know, we are teachers <laugh>. Exactly. Yes. Always a teacher, just saying <laugh> so, so congratulations. All right. So let's play, uh, the Spanish entry, which again, you did two reads, which were different. So here we go.

Ramesh: Soy Ramesh Mahtani. Bip bip. Ese es el sonido que uso para señalar que este es un comercial de autos mientras que usted podría estar conduciendo en la carretera. Este tipo de servicio es lo que le permite saber que puede confiar en Toyota y en nuestra nueva SUV Highlander 2022 para que se transporte de un lugar a otro de la manera más rápida y confiable. Bip bip bip bip bip. Vaya, lo siento, creo que mi burrito está listo.

Bip bip. Ese es el sonido que uso para señalar que este es un comercial de autos mientras que usted podría estar conduciendo en la carretera. Este tipo de servicio es lo que le permite saber que puede confiar en Toyota y en nuestra nueva SUV Highlander 2022 para que se transporte de un lugar a otro de la manera más rápida y confiable. Bip bip bip bip bip. Vaya, lo siento, creo que mi burrito está listo.

Anne: Yay.

Ramesh: I suppose I'll just caveat, uh, the accent there. I mean like Joe, I live in Spain and sometimes if my client's in mainland Spain, I would do a Castilian accent, but I put on a sort of neutral and general Latin American accent for those, which is similar to the Canarian accent.

Anne: Yeah. I was gonna just ask you about that. And one thing that I wanted to point out, which I thought was super strategic, because you did the two takes, you immediately went into your second take to call the attention of like -- Pilar and I listened like, oh my gosh, I think it took us a weekend, right, at least, uh, one after the other one after the other.

Pilar: Several times too.

Anne: Exactly. And the fact that even though, I didn't know, you were having two takes immediately going into that second take was like brilliant because I didn't stop listening. You know, I was just getting ready. Okay. He's finished -- oh no, here he comes with the next one, which I thought was really strategic. And I think if I know you, Ramesh, that was on purpose <laugh>

Ramesh: Would it have been the alternative to have said, take one?

Pilar: No. Most people leave a space.

Anne: A lot of space. Yeah.

Pilar: You don't let the listener down for a second. There's no lag time.

Ramesh: Right.

Pilar: And that is brilliant. I mean, I'm using that in my auditions now as well.

Ramesh: Okay. I've I've always done it that way.

Anne: That's smart.

Ramesh: I, I seldom send off an audition unless I do two.

Pilar: It's wonderful.

Ramesh: I usually always do two takes.

Anne: Yeah.

Ramesh: And I just do them back to back. So as you said, so they don't have a chance to hit the next button. Yeah.

Milena: I typically call it out in my slate if I'm going, do two takes, which --

Anne: And that's good too.

Milena: -- for most auditions I would do two. Yeah. But I like this. You give them no choice. Give 'em no choice.

Anne: Right, right. Just go right into it. I love it. And you went right into that second character too, which I thought was great for that. Now did you have a strategy English versus Spanish? I know you just mentioned that you did more of a neutral Spanish. What was your strategy for those two different reads?

Ramesh: For the two Spanish reads?

Anne: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.

Ramesh: Um, just, just variation really.

Anne: Yeah.

Ramesh: I mean, I just, I would loathe for them to sound similar so the director would've said, ah, you know, this guy's obviously reading the same thing twice in the same way. I, I just do not wanna fall in that trap. So whatever I could do to spice it up or color it to just make them sound different and believable, relatable and conversational, keeping away from the salesy.

Anne: Sure. So then let me ask you what's happening in your brain? What's happening? What's the process? Are you putting yourself in a different scene maybe?

Ramesh: I've got a different audience and I'm somebody else.

Anne: Okay.

Ramesh: So either I'm a young sort of rich, youthful sort of business dude, or I'm an older person just wanting to sort of have a nice car. So I, my whole persona changes, maybe it helps being a Gemini. I could switch from one, from one personality to the other, but yeah, definitely. I've gotta change the audience and change the speaker. Both of them.

Anne: Oh good. That's a really good tip. I like that. I've always changed the scene, but not necessarily who I was, because I always wanna be conversational and, and tell this story and, and not be salesy as well, but I never thought about changing, let's say I'm a younger Anne, which that would be nice. <laugh> I like that.

Milena: Your voice can be as young as you wanna be.

Anne: That's it. There you go. Yeah. <laugh> I like that.

Ramesh: I guess ever since I was a young kid and, and having been moved around so many different places, I perhaps, and this is for something very personal and intimate, and I, and now that it comes up in context, I don't mind sharing it, but I've, I've often struggled to have a proper identity as an -- sometimes I don't even know who I am because I've had to switch and I do often switch, you know, when I speak, as I said, I speak to my mom, I speak to in an Indian sort of way. I speak to the local Canarian dudes out in the street and become totalmente canario; it's a totally different accent. So I'm always switching, switching, switching, switching in the end, to think, you know, oh my gosh, existential crisis, you know, who am I? <laugh>

Anne: That's a, that's really an interesting point. Yeah.

Joe: You're a chameleon, Ramesh.

Ramesh: I'm a bit of a chameleon.

Anne: Absolutely.

Ramesh: I'm not Spanish and I'm not English, you know? So it's really weird.

Anne: That's very interesting. I always equate that, and again, I'll get maybe a little into it, but I grew up with three brothers. And so being the only girl in the family, I didn't have to share necessarily, but I also didn't have like a sister to kind of like play dolls with or whatever I was gonna be doing.

Milena: Same.

Anne: So I got really good at my imagination.

Ramesh: Yeah.

Anne: And playing with my dolls and teaching and talking to them and really putting myself in different scenes with them. And I think that carries through the adulthood. Right, Milena, you mentioned the same thing?

Milena: Oh yeah, absolutely. I didn't have a sister growing up. And I also just think like with my parents having the multiple jobs, they were both performers. My whole life has been a performance, and I kind of do the same in my two takes. I go into my lower register in that warm, buttery, soft, like my first take will be -- or exactly what the specs ask for, I'll give you in the first take, and then the next one, I'll kick it up to a little bit of a higher pitch, make myself a little bit younger and I'll be a little wackier, like a little more fun, a little more conversational, and just get a little more crazy with it. Just to add some adlibs and some different things too, just for range.

Anne: I think that's great. Do you have more than two personas? I always have two in my pocket, but do you spend time developing, let's say, a third read or a third persona that can give you a different read? I think that's good for the artist in us.

Joe: I mean, I, what captivated me about this piece was the invitation to do effects. You don't usually see that in copy, so I thought that was like, ooh, this is gonna be fun.

Anne: Yeah.

Joe: And then I tried to add layers, do several takes and sort of warm up and then listen to them and see if I can be sprinkling, uh, or adding something. But I do agree that when you kick into another language, it's another dimension of tools and, and tricks that you have. I wasn't privileged to have brothers or sisters.

So being lucky enough to grow up with a, a parent of either side, you know, you, you kind of take it for granted when you're a kid, and then you, you grow up and you're like, wow, this is pretty powerful to switch on and off, switch the languages, you know, with all the cultural and the contextual things that come along with each particular one. Totally there with Ramesh on the strange dichotomy that happens and not really knowing who you are or when it's the, uh, what secret service did you say you worked for again?

Pilar: No, comment.

Milena: I love how he's silent. He's like --

Joe: He's a pro.

Milena: If I tell you I'll have to kill you.

Ramesh: Well, sorry. Did I, did I talk about a secret service? <laugh>

Joe: I was asking you what secret service you work for, my friend. <laugh>

Anne: I love it.

Milena: Crickets, crickets.

Anne: Crickets. Secret service.

Pilar: Speaking of which, that was one of the things that really struck me about Ramesh's Spanish read is that I heard someone speaking in Spanish with the Spanish language rhythms rather than a translation. And that to me was so important because that not being your first language, and I think that that's really important because like Milena, I mean, I was born in this country, but my parents spoke to me for the first five years of my life in Spanish, but it's technically not the language that, you know, I speak English all the time.

So there's something, there's always that strange sort of divide. Like who are you? Are you this? Are you that? And what I really liked about your read was that it was like, I was listening to a Spanish person speaking, not a translation. And that's so important. Everyone is always so concerned with the accent. That really kind of falls by the wayside. Because if you believe in what you're saying, and it has to do with acting, if you're really acting it, how well you speak or how much of an accent you have doesn't really matter. It all falls by the wayside. So that's what to me, what made a very successful bilingual audition. And that's why we picked you, one of the reasons why we picked you as the bilingual audition winner.

Ramesh: Oh, thank you. I'm privileged. Thank you very much.

Anne: And again, I'll just kind of tack onto what Pilar was saying is both of the Spanish versions of your audition, I could hear the story that you were telling. And again, I listened very carefully, especially in the unwieldy sentences, because that's what I do every day with my students. I'm working on these crazy, long format narration scripts that aren't always written well. And so I would really be listening carefully throughout all the entries for that navigation. And I still felt the story. I felt the rhythm, and I felt the words that needed to come be a little more present in my ear that were important, like the brand name, the fact that you trust Toyota on all of your reads. Believe it or not, listening to all of the entries, that was kind of a key I was listening for, to trust Toyota.

And I wanna feel that trust as opposed to trust Toyota. And I really wanted to feel that little nuance of emotion or trust. And I think every single one of you in every one of your English and Spanish gave me that trust feeling and that warm feeling and that kind of having fun with it, especially at the end, and the beeps too. I mean, I like the fact that we gave this script out because of the beep beep and what people did with the beep beep was really telltale, especially in the beginning, if you did something that maybe wasn't a traditional beep beep or you had fun with it, or you just kind of smiled at yourself. I think Joe, you're, right off the bat, you're kind of chuckling a little bit and it just was so warm and I fell in love with that from the beginning and all of your interpretations of the beeping at the front end of that and the back end of that, I loved it. You know, you had fun with it like we asked in the specs.

Joe: Well, I was just gonna say Road Runner, you know, I mean, it was irresistible to me. It was irresistible.

Ramesh: Absolutely, absolutely.

Milena: Yes, that's exactly what I pictured in my head too.

Ramesh: Yeah.

Milena: That's funny.

Ramesh: I think after doing this for, I mean, you know, you're speaking to people who are super professionals. I have great respect for Joe and Milena and Pilar and yourself, Anne, of course. I mean, when you listen to somebody who's just started off and doesn't have much training, that's when you realize, oh my gosh, this is a poorly done audition. But after a while it just becomes intuitive, I think, plus the script lend itself, the beeps, the mic proximity that you can, the burrito whole thing. I mean, what does the burrito have to do with the car sale, for God's sake? So you can do so much with that. You know, you can just, as you said, have fun and the more imagination you have, and the more years of experience you have tucked under your belt, you can do crazy things within parameters, of course.

I often don't overthink it because that's usually when it doesn't usually work. It's usually my first and my third take, which are good. Uh, the first one, because I'm just off the bat, I'm fresh and I'm just being really spontaneous. The second seems to be similar to the first ,and the third, usually I've had a bit more time to imagine nuances, and those come out quite magically. So, but yeah, the script was nice. It lent itself to, to having fun and being creative.

Milena: I completely agree with that, the instincts, I know Anne, you had asked earlier, you know, what was your method? How did you attack this script? How did we look at the script? And I actually will do a read prior to even reading the specs, just to get my natural inclination of like, okay, I'm looking at the script without overthinking it. Let me just do a read. And then of course looking at the specs, and then kind of picking apart, you know, I listened back to my read and picking apart, what words do we wanna highlight? Like you said, trust, right? The brand, faster and safely, getting there fast and safely. Those are important things, right?

Joe: Exactly.

Milena: So then I go through with it, but I completely agree with Ramesh, it typically is my first read. And then maybe my third or my fourth. The second one always sounds like the first one, or it's like, so off the wall that it's like, why did I go totally left field on that one? But yeah. I completely agree with you, when you just go with those once you've been doing it for a while, when you try to be someone you're not, it's not authentic.

Ramesh: Exactly.

Milena: And you can hear it in your read.

Joe: Yeah. By family tradition, my parents came from the academic and the publishing world. So script analysis, I put at the top of the list, you know, the top three, because the burrito for example was what invited me not to do it in Castilian. And that was my choice. I thought it was great that you did two takes of each, Ramesh. I, I shied away from the Castilian because I just wanted to have a burrito <laugh> and, and that's Mexican, and I just -- and it's international by now., yes, but it's traditionally and originally Mexican. And I wanted, I wanted to go there.

If you told any person in Spain, you know, burrito just stand alone, they might not get it. If it's contextual, they'll be, oh yeah, yeah, Taco Bell, you know, whatever, but, or Mexican restaurant, but that's, that's the reason I, I shied away from Castilian and I, I made an attempt at my best neutral Spanish.

Milena: I had no choice. I don't do Castilian <laugh> You don't wanna hear me trying to do Castilian accent.

Anne: So that brings an interesting question, which I had asked of Pilar early on in our series, about when specs come in for Spanish, is there a strategy? Are specs clear? Do you sometimes have to say, well, is there a particular dialect that you're looking for? What do you guys do?

Joe: First and foremost is the market. What market is it hitting? Because if it's a state, it's gonna be 99.9% neutral Spanish. It's very exceptional to do Castilian. I've spent many years living in Spain, and sometimes they call me to do Spanish and Catalan. And for many years they wanted an American accent, even though I don't really have one when I speak normally. So I, I had to kind of impose, impose an accent like this or something like that. You know, you know what I'm saying?

Milena: I love it. Being in the US, I think it's kind of less of a question for me. I know Ramesh and Joe are overseas. For me here in the US, typically my specs are always gonna say either neutral Spanish or Latam Spanish, Latin American Spanish. That's 99%. I think I have gotten a couple auditions that have asked for Catalan or Castilian Spanish. And it's very rare, but I am pretty upfront with them that I'm like, you're not gonna be happy with my read, if you want me to try to pull one of those off. But yeah, I think for me over here in the States, it's almost always, it's gonna be neutral or, or Latin American Spanish, which is what I do. And I can put a little bit more of that Paisa, you know, Colombian accent on it, if they're asking specifically for Latin American, but yeah.

Ramesh: I've had a very strange situation with many of my castings in Spanish. I've booked jobs. And then they come to me and say, you're not Spanish, are you? I said, they say, you sound very Spanish, but by your name, we had doubts. And a few times they're, they're brave enough to say that.

Anne: Yeah.

Ramesh: They're like, your name sounds Indian or Pakistani. I'm like, well, it is. What you want do about it? <laugh>

Milena: What you want?

Ramesh: You bookedme. You, you booked me, you liked my audition, but are you just curious? You just wanna start a conversation over here? <laugh> And, and I struggle with that. And the same thing with my English, like, oh, this guy's Indian. He probably, he doesn't have a proper English accent. I'm like, well, so I stopped trying to be very British at one point, and I said, well, I'm international English. I mean, what can I say? Yes, I'm Indian. I can't, I could change my name. And at one point I tried to go as Robert Martin, but I thought it just sucks.

Joe: No, you should be Pepe Mahtani.

Ramesh: Pepe Mahtani de las islas canarias... so, yeah. So that's another sort of strange one, but like Joe's, But I mean, I also do a lot of times they, they ask you to do a span with the English accent. So you have to do what they, what the client wants and you hope they're happy.

Joe: You have to. You have to.

Ramesh: You have to.

Pilar: You have to.

Ramesh: Yes.

Milena: Oh my goodness.

Ramesh: Without a doubt.

Milena: Ramesh, that did strike me. Remember, our first conversation. That's what I said. I said, I'm completely blown away. As soon as I saw your name, I was like, well, he's not Spanish or American.


Ramesh: No, I totally understandable, yeah. It's like, where are you from? [speaking Spanish]

Milena: Cómo puede ser, pero no entiendo.

[banter in Spanish]

Joe: For me, it's the same, Joe Lewis. Right? You know, talking in Spanish, like, come on. This is --

Pilar: You could be José Luís.

Joe: Ridiculous, ain't it?

Milena: José Luís.

Joe: José Luís, exacto.

Ramesh: Whenever I speak to Joe, whenever I, the first thing I tell him, when we get on the phone is like, hello, Mr. Joe Lew-is. <laugh>.

Joe: I try to do my best Southeast Asian for Ramesh because I love him so much.

Ramesh: Listen, all my white friends who try and do an Indian accent are just terrible at it. You guys suck big eggs because you cannot do an Indian accent. Even Mr. Peter Sellers, who I have great respect for in the movie "The Party," he also did not pull out a decent Indian accent. I'm sorry. It's crap.

Joe: A thousand apologies. But I do -- I do this with, with love. I do this with love. I promise you.

Ramesh: Joke around.

Anne: Oh my goodness.

Ramesh: You can joke around because we are good friends, but your Indian accent, I'm sorry, is not very convincing.

Joe: Totally. Totally agreed.

Anne: Oh my goodness. Well, you guys --

Milena: Friends don't let friends go around with terrible accents. <laugh>

Anne: There you go. There you go.

Joe: Precisely.

Anne: <laugh> So I wanna ask each of you, what would be your best tip? Like how do you market yourself as -- like people that are coming in to the industry now, if they're bilingual, what best tips can you give us to market yourself as a bilingual voice talent?

Joe: I've spent many years trying to equate both. I have them at the same level, both languages. It was a thing of responsibility. That's a big R word, responsibility. And this was instilled through my parents directly and indirectly. So I was very lucky with that. It all went astray when, uh, a number of years ago, I started to get requests from clients to do accents that are not my natural accents. Oh, I wait, are you sure? I'm like, yes, no, please.

And then you do it and they love it. And like, Hmm, well, maybe there's something here. Maybe, maybe it's a thing. So you can never sleep in your laurels. You can never get too comfortable. You can never get too overconfident because it's like music. I come from music. It's ultimately unattainable. You're not gonna finish it. Just keep on pumping. That's what you can do. That's my best advice. Keep on pumping.

Ramesh: 100%.

Milena: I guess before this interview, we talked about this a little bit. I actually shied away from doing Spanish when I first started, despite me literally being on Telemundo, right? <laugh> like having my own segment in Spanish. I always was a little bit insecure about my Spanish, and I would get requests to do things both English and Spanish, and producers kept telling me like, you've got something here. You've gotta do -- when you can offer both sides, it's more efficient. It's mutually beneficial for you and the client. You've really gotta push this. And I did.

So I try to -- and I'm trying to get better at it -- I try to, when I'm posting things, say to social media, or, you know, whenever I'm doing things, I'm trying to do more showing the spots that I do in English and in Spanish so that people can see both sides, especially right now. There's this huge shift in the last few years here, that is this huge push for diversity, huge push for bilingualism, especially with Spanish in the US.

And I don't know if you guys are seeing things over there too, or internationally, 'cause of course I just know here in the US, but there's this really big push. So I've been very, very fortunate in that everyone that I connect with, as soon as I mention that I'm bilingual, they then mention that to somebody else. So my biggest tip would be let people know. Don't do what I did for the first, you know, five years and shy away from that. Practice it.

And if you don't feel as confident in that second language, which I didn't, start reading books out loud, watching movies, speaking -- I told my parents do not speak to me in English. We're speaking in Spanish, and I would read technical things so that it would be more difficult, you know, words that I didn't use in conversation, and just let people know, but plaster it everywhere and make sure everyone knows.

Anytime I send an audition on say Voice 123, 'cause I do use that as a pay to play in addition to my agents and other things, anytime, even if it's an English audition only, I always, always, always write, hey, and if you ever think about hitting the Hispanic market, I also speak neutral Spanish. Please go to my website and here's my stuff. Even if it's only an English spot, I always let people know. And you know what? 50% of the time, they come back to me and say, you know what? We posted a separate for the Spanish. We'll just go with you for both of them. So whatever language that is that you're in, use it. And even if you don't think they'll ever use you in -- let people know, 'cause they're not gonna know unless you tell them, right? So that is my biggest piece of advice is just brag on yourself, man. Let 'em know.

Joe: And if I may quote Jaco Pastorias, the great late bass player, it ain't bragging if you can back it up.

Milena: Heyo.

Ramesh: Absolutely.

Anne: Ramesh, your thoughts?

Ramesh: Yeah. Well, I think in my case, I was speaking to Joe about this actually a few, a few days back, it, it's very market specific. I mean I live in Spain and I don't really market myself to Spanish clients in Spanish, I suppose because I know there's, there's a whole plethora of Spanish voice artists here. Why would they necessarily go to me? So they come to me for English and as Milena said, once they come to me for English, then I'd bring out the Spanish. I'm like, here you go. I can do it in Spanish for you. Oh great. That saves us so much trouble and hassle finding somebody who can do it in Spanish. And likewise with international clients that I book in English, you know, I tell them I, I can do the Spanish, but I think you, as Milena said, you have to let it be known that you can do both and do whatever you're good at.

If you're good at corporate, well, sell yourself at corporate and be even better at corporate, and then perhaps branch out to something that you may want to aspire to. If you wanted to do some animation in Spanish, you've never done that before, get coaching, but focus on your strengths and build your strengths and be really confident that my strong piece is this. And I can promote that openly and confidently, because confidence is, is 90% of the game. If they see that you say I can do Spanish for you as well. And you know, you don't have a belief in yourself, it's gonna seep through. I mean, I do French voicing, but I tell the clients, I'm not a native French speaker. I've got a very good accent, but it's not native. And I try and pull it off because I have confidence that I can do it.

Joe: I totally agree. We don't read minds. And I, I was in a corporate multinational advertising agency for a while, and bilingualism in the States is a really important thing. I mean, I don't know what you think, Ramesh, if you agree with me, but for certain reasons, I think there's more of a bilingual ambient in the States than there is in Spain. 'Cause Spain is too busy with politics and they're busy with co-official languages. They're not dialects, they're official languages like Catalan, Gallego, or Galician and, and Basque.

And the, the thing is that, uh, because of the way English is taught in Spain and, and because of dubbing, this is the reason why English is not a second nature, uh, language in Spain. So you always have to have client education in mind in the good sense to try to explain to them because they may not read your mind. They may not understand to what level you are in the other language. It's not easy.

I mean, it's, we live in a world that is very multiplied because of social media. And you know, I see this from the musician standpoint, again, you know, the advent of pop star. You do a 3000 line casting. You, you get in, you're on TV, it's instant stardom. I mean, there's a lot of ways to get known really quickly and dramatically in this world. And a lot of people are strutting their stuff. So it's a complicated thing to market yourself effectively. It's not just marketing, and here I would like Anne to take over on the marketing thing because you're a master at this, but it's a really important question, what you ask. How do you market yourself in English and Spanish effectively and be taken seriously? You know?

Anne: Well, I mean spoken by the guy who has the bilingualvoiceover, right? I mean me@thebilingualvoice -- so that I'll tell you, right in your URL, you're advertising, and you've got multiple URLs. And I know that, you know, all of you on your websites are focusing or you have the fact that you are bilingual. And I think that's number one, I mean, in this online world and Pilar, I know does an exorbitant amount of not just bilingual voiceover, but also dubbing. So Pilar, any specific, additional tips that we haven't talked about that maybe you could offer as advice to, let's say, bilingual voiceover talent that are coming into the industry now?

Pilar: Um, well a lot has been said about it. When I first started in the industry, in voiceover, I was encouraged not to do a bilingual voiceover demo for example by a very, very well known coach here that Anne and I both know who shall remain nameless who said, absolutely. You never mesh the two together.

Milena: I've been told that too.

Pilar: You have Spanish on one side and English on the other. So I did, not with them. And so then I, I was like, okay. So I went with somebody else. I did it, Spanish, English, fine. And then I thought, no, I'm gonna go ahead and do a bilingual voiceover demo. And I did, and that is one that's booked me so many jobs. The other one is really good. The other two that I did, the Spanish and English and it, my agents prefer me separating them. So that's fine. But the Spanglish one is what has booked me so many jobs.

And so for somebody starting out, I think it's just important to keep at it, just to keep putting yourself out there. And also you never know what the client's gonna ask. I just, I find it so hysterical that I get booked for something. We'll do it in English. We'll do it in Spanish. And then they'll say, well, can you just give us a little accent? I'm like, you're kidding, right? And I don't have an accent in either. I mean, in Spanish, I always think I do, but I don't. I know I don't, it's just, it's so minuscule, but they're like, can you just make it a little bit more for us? And then in English, can you just give us a little bit more, a little thicker? I'm like, okay, fine. If that's what the client wants, that's what the client gets.

So I think that the key is to be elastic and to say, yes, I can do this. I can do this. Never say no. A lot of times I've come up against artists who sit there, and they say, oh, well, I passed on that because I can't do it. And I was like, well, why can't you do it? Well, I didn't, I didn't think I could. Well, if you don't think you can, then you're not gonna be able to. Right. Exactly. So always be available and let the person who is casting see if you're right for it or not. And you know, keep putting yourself out there, no matter what.

Milena: I wanted to ask, 'cause this is the question that I have and I think maybe some that are coming in would appreciate an answer to this -- in the US, the majority of my buyers are speaking English, right, whether they want Spanish or not. Now I do work with buyers that speak Spanish, but the majority of them are in English. So I've struggled with the decision to make my website, do a Spanish website, all Spanish website, or just an all English website.

So I've chosen to do an all English website that says I'm bilingual and I'm gonna have an about me page that's just in Spanish, just my about me page. And I just wanted to get your feedback on that, 'cause I think that's a question that a lot of people have coming in as well. Like do I need to have these two separate entities like I have for my demos? Or like I said, for me, the majority of my buyers speak English regardless whether their client is or they -- their primary language may be Spanish, but my buyers are usually in English.

Pilar: So this might sound a little radical.

Milena: I like it.

Anne: Already.

Pilar: I'm not thinking about who my buyers are. I'm thinking about me. And if I go, and I did this, 'cause I had two separate websites 'cause I actually followed what this person said to me at first, and I had an English website and I had a Spanish website. And all that does is dilute you. That does nothing for your SEO, does nothing for the persona. And if you're talking about branding, for me, this did not work. It might work for other people, but I just park everything in one place and I have different categories. That's just me.

Milena: Perfect. I like it.

Pilar: And that has worked better. I think it's worked better in consolidating everything because at one time I had like three different websites. It was just crazy. And it just diluted --

Milena: It's a lot to manage. Yeah.

Pilar: Exactly.

Joe: I mean, Milena, you could put a tab -- you could have your website in English and then put a little tab of in Spanish and then they can click, and then they'll, they'll go to that same site, and you'll have it all translated into Spanish. What I'm not an expert is an SEO and how it behaves looking at a, at a site in one language and if it can complement SEO ratings on the same site. So just because I could, I have the Bilingual Voiceover Guy, but I have both Voces Bilingue, and right now I'm redirecting them. But the idea is to have Voces Bilingue in Spanish and then have it linked to the English one.

Anne: And then Joe, you have a page on your, the Bilingual Voiceover Guy, English that also is translated in Spanish, correct?

Joe: Yes, because I hadn't had this thing that I just talked about yet. That, that, that was a sort of a patch in the meantime. And funny enough, that page is what's ranking.

Anne: I was just gonna say that, if you have that page, if it's all in Spanish, because if somebody doesn't speak English, and they're typing a search term in Spanish, that would match your page, your landing page. And it still comes to your central, you know, I call it the central website, but you've just got another page. Yeah, a separate tab, a landing page. And I think that's a really good strategy that you'll be able to capture the best of both SEO worlds. Yeah.

Pilar: Yeah. The tab is essential.

Joe: Yeah. The tab, mm-hmm. Anyway, I mean, my thing is work in progress too, but the way I choose to think is that there's 2 billion English speakers, and there's 600,000 Spanish speakers. So that's a market of 2.6 billion.

Anne: Yeah.

Joe: For each one of us. And sky's the limit.

Pilar: Absolutely.

Anne: Ramesh, how do you work your website? Do you have a special page dedicated?

Ramesh: I just have it in English actually. I think that's, that's definitely something I need to work on to see how I can, but I've -- to be absolutely honest, I'm quite happy with the level of work that I've got right now. So --

Milena: If it ain't broke.

Ramesh: -- smooth sailing, I don't wanna sound arrogant, but I'm comfortable. So I, I could perhaps do all these lovely suggestions that you guys have come up with, but perhaps another time.

Anne: Well, I don't have another language page, but I have literally four other genre specific pages like website, because I specialize in corporate narration or I specialize in e-learning. So I have the I have, phone voice. And so even though I may not get a ton of activity on those sites, the words on those sites get indexed, and it contributes to my SEO. And each of those sites also maps back to my core site, which I think is my core brand of in addition to my VO BOSS and VO Peeps brands. So I handle probably 11 sites.

Pilar: That's next level marketing. Go to for next level marketing, that's, that's that's our next, our next job.

Anne: But yeah, it just helps to be found and it kind of just works on its own. And every once in a while I do have, as a matter of fact, I'm looking to refresh those pages just to make sure they keep generating people, pointing at my website. And again, it's a wonderful position to be in. If you have a, a good amount of work, I think that's amazing. Then things are working for you. And so that's why your advice and everything we're talking about today is so valuable for people that are coming into this industry. So we thank you, guys, so much for joining us.

Milena: Thank you for this contest --

Joe: Thank you for having us.

Milena: -- and this swag. Hello!

Ramesh: Thank you for having us.

Anne: I know. So yeah, I do wanna mention the swag. So not only did you guys get, uh, thank you again to Liz Atherton, but also you guys got BOSS swag, which Pilar and Milena are wearing right now.

Ramesh: Yeah. Mine's on the way. It'll be here in about next --

Anne: Which it is on the way. As a matter of fact, I will tell you because you're on that little island there, Ramesh, it might take a little longer to get you.

Milena: It's gonna come by carrier pigeon.

Ramesh: Keep on looking at the skies to make sure the drones are dropping in.

Anne: I can't wait to see pictures of you in that t-shirt.

Ramesh: Oh, I will.

Anne: And Joe with your mug. That's awesome. So.

Ramesh: I love it. Super.

Anne: You guys, amazing job. Thank you so much. It's been, this has been so wonderful, and we thank you for sharing your wisdom with us, and yeah, I wanna do this like now every six months.

Milena: Down for it.

Anne: Think we should --

Joe: -- amazing.

Anne: You know, right? <laugh>

Ramesh: It would be pleasure.

Anne: So what's been going on in six months in the bilingual world? So yeah. Awesome. Well guys, I'm gonna give a great big shout-out to our sponsor, ipDTL. You guys can connect and network like we have on ipDTL. Find out more at And also I will say that this was recorded today with Riverside. So I'm extremely happy to have given this a try, and thanks for the wonderful video and audio tracks that we're going to get. And one more sponsor, 100 Voices Who Care. If you want to use your voice to make an immediate difference and give back to the communities that give to you, find out more at Thanks, guys, so much for joining us again. It's been amazing and we'll see you next week.

Ramesh: Thank you very much.

Joe: It was lovely.

Milena: Thank you.

>> Join us next week for another edition of VO BOSS with your host Anne Ganguzza. And take your business to the next level. Sign up for our mailing list at and receive exclusive content, industry revolutionizing tips and strategies, and new ways to rock your business like a BOSS. Redistribution with permission. Coast to coast connectivity via ipDTL.