The a-DORA-ble actress Fatima Ptacek recently stopped by the J-14 office to chat. She Dished about her role as the iconic Dora The Explorer character and how she landed the part, the way she stands up to bullies and what we can expect from her in the future.
J-14: How did you get the role of Dora?
Fatima Ptacek: I went to the Nickelodeon offices and in the beginning they said it was just a secret project. They didn't tell us anything, but I had to prepare songs, so I sang "Grenade," by Bruno Mars and then read a couple of lines, and I noticed that the lines were the Dora lines, but I figured they were just recycling lines. There was a second audition and it was the same lines and a different song. About two months later, I got the call and they said, "Well, you're officially Dora the Explorer." I was just screaming, I was like, "Are you kidding me? That's ridiculous!" It was really, really exciting.
J-14: Can you tell us a little about the process of voice acting and what's different about it?
FP: With voice acting, it's definitely different because I'm only with the voice director in a booth and I don't have to work with anyone, I could come in wearing pajamas because I'm not on camera, it's just about the voice. With regular acting you have to come in an hour early for hair and makeup and for voice acting you have your own time and you just get started. But I love that they're both super fun!
J-14: Which do you like better regular, acting or voice acting?
FP: Well this is the first time I've actually really done voice acting seriously, and it's been a really, really fun experience. I definitely think I'm going to be continuing this because Dora keeps building up. But I think I just prefer acting in front of the camera because I like to show my emotions and I like to show that I can act and do a variety of things. But I love them both either way.
J-14: A lot of young kids look up to Dora. Who's one of your role models or one of your heroes in real life?
FP: When I was younger, Dora was definitely kind of a hero for me. I love that I get to take in that role and get to do it for other kids because I know how it felt. So that's an honor. I put a smile on millions of kids' faces just by talking, which is fascinating. But a role model --Miranda Cosgrove, I'm actually very proud of her for what she's doing. She's had a very successful run with Nickelodeon and iCarly and now she's taking the time off to go to college and I think that's super important. Because for me, education is the most important thing -- before any of this, and if I didn't have good grades, then I wouldn't be doing anything that I'm doing.
J-14: Do you have any advice for readers who want to get into acting?
FP: Never give up. It's definitely a tough business and there are roles that are looking for specific things and sometimes directors don't know what they want yet. They're just trying to get a whole variety so they can minimize the amount of people and go down the last three for a role. Even if you get close a whole bunch of times, you just have to keep going because one day that role is going to come for you and it's going to be the right role and you're going to love and enjoy it. You're going to remember that's why you wanted to do this, because you wanted to feel that moment of glory.
J-14: Dora's known for her adventures, obviously. What's the most adventurous thing you've ever done?
FP: Maybe not adventurous, but the most bold thing I've ever done, I think, is standing up to bullies at school. Friends of mine have been bullied and they've been picked on and sometimes even a teacher will make a comment that might be a little offensive and they may not realize it. So when it's another kid, I make sure to tell them that what they're doing isn't right. And I'm not afraid to tell them to stop it and I'm not afraid to tell the principal, I'm not afraid to tell the guidance counselor, so they should just stop right there and apologize. So I'm the peacemaker at my school a lot of the time, too. I try to encourage my friends to stand up too, because I don't want them to be scared. I want to show them that they can be just as powerful, and bullies don't have the right to do anything.
J-14: What's next for you?
FP: I have a couple projects that I'm not allowed to say, but I can't wait to tell you guys about them, so you have to bring me back! I guess. Curfew, the short film I did; we're going to be filming the feature during the summer. I'm pretty excited for that because if the short film is getting a whole bunch of buzz, with the whole story behind it, I think it's going to be even more exciting. I can't wait. And I have a couple other things, Nickelodeon, a lot of things pending. I'll keep you up to date!