New Faces NJ: Call Me Dora

Most twelve-year-old girls are too embarrassed to keep their childhood Dora the Explorer collections. But Caitlin Sanchez is not just a fan of the precocious Latina heroine—she is Dora’s new voice.

Caitlin Sanchez, 12, of Fairview was chosen from among 600 hopefuls as the new voice of animated TV character Dora the Explorer.
Photo by Michael Benabib/ Nick Jr.

Dora the Explorer, an animated phenomenon on Nickelodeon’s Nick Jr. network, is entering its fifth season with a new cast of voices and a goal of maintaining its status as the top-rated preschool program on television.

“I was four when Dora first came out, and I loved it,” says Sanchez, who lives in Fairview with her parents and two siblings. “I had the Dora bedroom, curtains, backpack—everything!”

Dora the Explorer features the adventures of seven-year-old Dora and her pals, who enlist the help of their audience through Spanish-language and educational lessons.

“There were about 600 girls who auditioned for Dora, so I was a little overwhelmed,” says Sanchez.
Born in Englewood of Cuban-American parents, Sanchez has appeared on TV’s Law and Order, and stars with Felicity Huffman and Elle Fanning in Phoebe in Wonderland, a film hitting theaters this fall. Sanchez is also an accomplished pianist and singer, and has performed at the Victoria Theatre at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center.

“I absolutely gave preferential treatment to anyone who auditioned from New Jersey,” jokes Chris Gifford, a Montclair resident who is Dora’s co-creator and executive producer. Rounding out the cast are Regan Mizrahi, 8, of Closter (playing Boots), Alexandria Suarez, 8, of Union City (Backpack), and Jean Carlos Celi, 8, of Elizabeth (Tico). The new cast can be heard in a new prime-time movie, Dora Saves the Snow Princess. It premieres November 3 on Nick Jr. and is already available on DVD.

Sanchez, who likes to play soccer and tennis and shop with friends, is proud of her role. Most tweens might be hesitant to admit they have a seven-year-old alter ego, but she says, “My friends all call me Dora now, but I love it! ”

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