Interview: Marabina Jaimes (2011)

Marabina Jaimes is a busy woman. When this Emmy Award-winning talent isn’t re-voicing characters for Spanish-speaking audiences, she’s contributing to popular Latin Internet shows or working on blockbuster feature films. In her spare time, she’s also the subject of an upcoming documentary. Working Author caught up with Jaimes to learn more about her history in the entertainment industry, her current projects and what life is like for voiceover talent.

“The voice is extremely powerful,” says Marabina Jaimes, regarding her voice work, “and if you don’t believe me…just think of anything negative that’s been said to you…is that message still a powerful force in your subconscious?  And then think of Glinda (from The Wizard of Oz) saying, ‘There’s no place like home’…are you immediately transported to the first time you heard that line?” Speaking Spanish, Jaimes currently re-voices Brenda Strong who plays Mary Alice Young on ABC’s Desperate Housewives. Audiences can also hear Jaimes on Lifetime since that channel also carries the simultaneous broadcast. Her voice has also been heard on other popular shows and films such as The Good Wife, Law & Order, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, and Mark Ruffalo’s Sympathy for Delicious.

“When people ask me how I got into voice work, I jokingly say, ‘all I’m doing is reading’, but of course, there is more,” Jaimes says. She explains that when she speaks, people aren’t simply hearing her voice; they’re hearing an accumulation of all the classes she’s taken, vocal techniques she’s learned and the nuggets of wisdom compiled from jobs and auditions. “It makes sense that voiceover can be very lucrative when you consider that one voice is responsible for setting a tone, encouraging you to buy or convincing you to care about characters you’ve never heard of.” Jaimes says the most attractive quality of her voice is its “warmth…except when I’m screaming my head off which I’m very good at too.”

Like many others in entertainment, Jaimes started young, doing commercials. She had always wanted to be on television. “As a matter of fact, my true goal was to visit Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood,” she confesses, “and lo and behold, I made it to PBS on Storytime!” Jaimes was awarded an Emmy for her work as Mara, one of the co-hosts on the show. It was her commercial work, however, doing voiceovers in Spanish that set her on her path to voice talent. “I…segued into dubbing foreign cartoons into English and Spanish, which then led to re-voicing foreign films into English, which then led back to originating English cartoons, which then led to voice-matching and looping, which then led to re-voicing series and movies in either English or Spanish.”

Jaimes says, “Entertainment encompasses everything,” explaining why she didn’t go into a different field. And with such a large industry, Jaimes seems to be involved in every aspect of it. She was recently one of the co-hosts on Let’s Talk, a Latin Heat Internet show and the Latina answer to daytime talk shows like The View that lacked a Latina point-of-view.  “I knew Bel Hernandez, the publisher of Latin Heat, and Dyana Ortelli, a hilarious actress/comedienne….” Jaimes explains. Bel approached her during the premiere party for another project and Jaimes agreed to do the show. Let’s Talk would later garner a 2010 Norman Lear “Imagen Award” nomination for Best Internet Program. “It’s been a blast to work with Bel, Dyana, and actress/host Kikey Castillo:  co-hosts I respect, admire, and applaud!” Jaimes also wrote the theme song for the show.

YLSE is another Web series that Jaimes is working on, which was created and co-written by Ruth Livier. The show is about “a smart, go-getter Latina butterfly journalist caught in her own cultural cocoon.” Jaimes originally hosted and co-produced YLSE:  Behind the Scenes, but was later written into the show after the first season. With so much content on the Internet competing for viewers’ attention, Jaimes believes that people should watch it because it’s funny and offers “relevant bicultural dialogue addressing the biggest demographic” which is young bilinguals age 18 – 39. It’s also worth noting that YLSE won the 2010 Norman Lear “Imagen Award” for Best Internet Program.

Jaimes is also featured in an upcoming documentary titled Now En Español directed by Andrea Meller. “This documentary is about the voices behind the Spanish dubbed version of ABC’s Desperate Housewives, which is done simultaneously with the English version…. The five of us, Ivette Gonzales (Gabrielle), Marcela Bordes (Edie), Gabriela Del Carmen (Lynette), Natasha Perez (Susan) have been followed around by Ms. Meller since she read about us in The New York Times.” Jaimes didn’t want to give away too many details, but she did pique interest with this cryptic morsel. “All I can tell you is that Desperate Housewives has been transformed from a simple title…to a badge…of courage.”

The film’s Facebook page offers this small blurb:

NOW EN ESPAÑOL is an independent feature-length documentary that follows the lives of six Latina actresses who dub television and radio into Spanish for millions of American viewers. The film chronicles the ups and downs of being a Latina actress in Hollywood and creates portraits of these women as they struggle to succeed in a Hollywood that is finally beginning to pay attention to the massive Latino market. NOW EN ESPAÑOL addresses questions of Latino identity and representation in the media while telling the all-American story of trying to make it in Hollywood.

Regarding the struggles of being a Latina in the Hollywood entertainment industry, Jaimes says that the biggest trial is “being “tested because of our ethnicity first and as actors second. It’s a hurdle that has made this wonderful profession that much more challenging.  The awesome thing is that there are so many wonderful writers, who just happen to be Latinos [such as] Luisa Leschin (George Lopez Show/Everybody Hates Chris), Peter Murrieta (Wizards of Waverly Place), Javier Grillo Marxauch (Middle Man/Lost) [who are] making it easier to just act without having to carry in the obligatory feathers, sacrificial chickens, and cactus!” Jaimes is hopeful that the film will be ready for audiences by the end of the year.

Despite enduring the hardships that seems to haunt most minorities in the entertainment industry, Marabina Jaimes has found a wonderful match in her chosen profession. Even after so many years, she still loves what she does. “I enjoy acting and performing immensely.  I feel very blessed to go from a voiceover session, to an on-camera shoot, to a print job, to hosting, to singing. There are so many areas in this business, who could ever get bored?”

Learn more about Marabina Jaimes at

Watch YLSE at

Follow Now En Español via the film’s official Facebook page.