Kathleen Herles, Original Voice of Dora Chats with Voices
For ten years, Kathleen Herles was the voice of Dora the Explorer, one of the most famous voices on television.
Since graduating from high school and moving on to college, she has retired from her role as Dora and is looking forward to what her future career may bring.
Join me in this conversation with Kathleen Herles as she shares what it was like to provide the voice of a beloved character in a runaway hit and how her experiences both in the studio and out impacted her life growing up Dora.
VOX: Thank you very much for joining us here today, Kathleen! I’m grateful that you’re able to share some of your experiences with us. Many people know you best for your work as the original voice of Dora the Explorer. Last September, a new chapter of your career began as you left Dora behind. Was turning the page hard and how have things been going for you since then?
KATHLEEN HERLES: It was definitely sad to leave the show because that’s what I grew up with. However, I knew no ties would be broken between all the friends that I made. During this time I had just graduated from high school. I now attend Pace University. I still go on auditions and just hope for the best.
VOX: As you were the first voice of Dora, literally everything about her personality audibly is credited to you and your voice over artistry. How old were you when you were cast to perform her voice and how did you come to get the job?
KH: When I was 4 years old I was attending a modeling school and I went to the MTA convention and was discovered by my manager Shirley Grant. At 7, years old I went to audition for the voice of Dora and the same day I found out that I had gotten the part. That day was one of the best days of my life. I didn’t have to change my voice when I started Dora. That was my voice as a child. Creating and being a part of this amazing character is such a great honor.
VOX: How many years did you record Dora’s voice for? Did you find it challenging to maintain a certain “voice age” as your own voice was becoming more mature in your teenage years? Why or why not?
KH: I’ve been the voice of Dora for ten years. As I got older it was definitely a challenge to maintain my 7 year old voice, but it was fairly easy after.
VOX: If you could choose 3 adjectives to describe Dora’s voice, what would they be?
KH: Energetic, loving, and passionate.
VOX: Over the years, your voice became synonymous with one of the most captivating, beloved cartoon characters on television for the preschool and primary set, parents and babysitters everywhere. What does this kind of iconic status mean to you, and also, did you realize at the time just how much of an impact you made or is it more apparent now that you’ve retired from the role?
KH: At first I had no idea this was gonna turn out and be such an impact. As I got older I could understand more of what I was part of. When I would do appearances and meet fans and their moms I couldn’t even comprehend the love they had for Dora. Some mothers even started to cry and a lot of those times I realized how much of an impact this show was, and I could not believe it. I was awarded many times for the voice of Dora and being part of it. Knowing that I was a role model for millions of children definitely added pressure but it was cool at the same time.
VOX: Dora speaks both English and Spanish. Being bilingual, this must have been easy for you to do. Are there any words or phrases that were translated on the show for the audience on the series that you count among your most memorable? Why did these particular lines stick out to you?
KH: Being bilingual is another thing Dora and I have in Common. Dora always uses Spanish to encourage kids like Excellente, Fantastico. She always loves to speak Spanish and wants to share it. Bate Bate chocolate is one of my favorite Spanish songs from Dora. Its sticks to me because in the episode Dora and her grandmother make fresh chocolate from cocoa beans and it reminds me of memories I have with my abuelita.
VOX: That’s wonderful! I know that song myself and can attest to how memorable it is. Moving along, was it hard to get other voice over gigs growing up because you were the voice of Dora, or in other words, did the fact that you voiced such a high profile character pose any problems working for anyone else?
KH: No it wasn’t hard at all. I was in Sesame Street and was part of several commercials and print jobs.
VOX: What is your favorite Dora the Explorer memory?
KH: My favorite Dora the Explorer memory definitely has to be the premiere party and just hanging out with the other voice actors. Growing up with everyone made them my second family. We all still keep in touch and the voice of Backpack is my best friend to this day.
VOX: Have you been able to meet any of your fans over the years and are there any special moments you could share with us? Also, what do your fans mean to you?
KH: Yes I have had the privilege to meet a lot of my fans. It’s so overwhelming and amazing when I do. Kids are so cute and so funny and ask the cutest things. One time I made a little cry because he probably had no idea what was going on. It was sad but cute.
VOX: You’ll be judging the Best Child Voice Voicey Award this year. Do you have any words of encouragement or tips for the children who were nominated this year?
KH: My advice would be to just have a lot of energy and fun because it shows a lot in your voice when you do and Good Luck! Buena Suerte!
If you’re a fan of Kathleen’s work as Dora or enjoyed this interview, be sure to leave a comment and let us know what you think!
It must have been quite an experience for Kathleen to grow up with such a popular children’s show. Thanks for the great interview, Stephanie!
all the best,
This is a lovely interview. Kathleen did a great job as Dora’s voice for so many years.
It’s fascinating to see her face! The voice is such a wonderful instrument.
Ohhhh wow… I had no idea who did the voice of Dora… She’s beautiful!
Your original “Mami” here! So glad to see you’ve grown up so beautifully! Continued success Kathleen!
You did such a good work even do I started to hate Dora a little because I was growing up.Even tho im “11” I think youh were very great.I didn’t even knoe who was the voice Dora.I’ll Sure Miss you!
Wow it must be such an honor to be sooo beautiful and talented like you i never knew the person who played dora was soo pretty and good looking unlike me. See when i was growing up everyone made fun of me and i was the four-eyed freak with the ugly hair and pimples all over my face, you think thats all wait until you hear this i had lice all the time no friends because i was always itching my head and sweating because of my nervous reactions when people talked to me i also had spas attacks and peed my pants at math time because i was so scared of getting a bad grades……. you probably don’t want to hear the rest so thanks for your time and listening to my deep feelings.
This was a beautiful interview, keep up the great work Kathleen
and good luck!!
You were great as Dora….Nick Jr was something that I loved growing up and Dora was up ther with Gullah Gullah Island and Alegra’s Window. I cant believe that Im a year older than you and I was yelling the answers to Dora’s questions with my cousin whos about 5 yrs older than me…lol
best of luck w/ college
You did a really good job at playing the voice as dora.My little sister loves dora and even though she is four if their was an other girl as the voice of dora she would know because in all the times she has wached dora you have been her voice. Nice job!
I discovered you very recently my daughter just loves you (Dora) like anything….i wish you all the best for your future days….good luck!!
What a wonderful interview,being a young latina myself I am so proud of Kathleen for being such a great role model for our community. I started watching Dora ten years ago with my little god-daughter who was obsessed with Dora and Boots. Now ten years later I watch it with my 9 month old daughter who also loves it. I’m so glad that this show is still around. Thanks for the interview (brought tears to my eyes-don’t know why lol)
Good luck with school Kathleen!
I have 3 year old twins and Dora has been a huge part of their lives. They love to watch her at home and in my car. When I pick them up at their sitter the first thing out of their mouth as I put the DVD screen down is “Wanna watch Dora”. Since I bought my new car a week ago with a built in DVD my rides home from the sitter have been soooo much quieter. It has also inspired them to stay off the “naughty list” for this coming Christmas. I am now using that to get them to behave. I’m loving Dora and she is so beautiful even at her age now and I want to thank you for helping my girls want to learn Spanish and “be good girls”
and my quiet drives home after a long day at work. Suzy Phillips
Wow this is kind of sad i grew up watching Dora the explorer with my two cousin i real loved watching Dora this brings me lots of memories as a child and i some times watch dora when i have time best wishes to you and good luck im sad and happy at the same times.
Hi kathleen and i am a blind mother and all though this inter view is old i think you are a brave young women you incourage my 6 and 14 that i didn’t realize the change until a few months ago i stop sitting and listening to DORA with my girls because you did not sound the same anymore i thinking maybe you were sick and the just had some on fill in for you i think it was a wounderful idea to carry on your legacy for all of the little kids around the world. i just noticed a few months ago of the change in your voice a few months meaning like january i don’t think the kids realized it either witch is great. be more then great i tell my girls don’t tell me what you can’t do show me what you can do at the end of every show you say we did it and i use that statement not just with my girls but with my friends as well i wanted to just say good luck great job and way to go i hope this finds you. Ps please excuse any missed spelled hand writting some things aren’t spell the same way in braille
Hi there this was a great interview i enjoyed it and good luck with what such u do now 🙂
Wow my little sister loves Dora.
Wow what can i say like i always tell my 2 year old daniela doras getting rich and im getting poor lol every were we go to the store dora toy,dora dora and scream excitedly it drives me crazy she watches her dvd allday from seven am until i get off work five pm and every one saying janey take it off hurry hurry before she sees and crys her head off she even dreams off dora,calling her name in her sleep or when she has nitemares i have to put it on at 2 am she has every thing dora guitar,cars,pajamas,cloths,shoes, slippers,hair and jewerly stuff,calendars,watches,underwear,back packs,dvds,bed set,tents,posters, toys,socks you name it shes got it she might have evry dora ever made shes your biggest fan i hope you have a great future
I like that your best friend is the voice of backpack. Something in that is amusing to me. You brightened the day for millions of kids (including mine). My family wishes you the best with all that you decide.
My 18 month old loves Dora! she wakes up saying “doda peease” pointing at the tv lol
YOUR THE BEST IM ONLY 16 YEARS OLD IN I STILL L-O-V-E
D-O-R-A I MEAN SHE ROCKSSSSSSSSSSS
Me encanta Dora la Exploradora. Su voz es excepcional! 🙂
when i was younger i used to wake up early in the morning and watched dora.Now that i am 11 yrs. old i still watch dora only when im up for school
QUERIDA KATHLEEN PARA MI ES UN ORGULLO QUE SEAS HIJA DE PERUANOS TU MADRE VIVIA AQUI EN MI BARRIO EN LIMA MUCHO MENOR QUE YO , ALGUNA VECES TE VI CUANDO VENIAS DE VISITA AL PERU, TAN LINDA Y SENCILLA UNA PERSONITA DE CARNE Y HUESO SIEMPRE DEMOSTRATE ESA AMABILIDAD QUE VIENE DE LA CRIANZA QUE TE DIERON TUS PADRES , AHORA ERES YA UNA SEÃ‘ORITA Y SE QUE SIEMPRE VAS ALCANZAR TOOODOOOO LO QUE TU REALMENTE QUIERAS TE DESEO LO MEJOR ,AVANZANDO POR LOS CAMINOS DE LA VIDA, AFECTUOSAMENTE ANA MARIA.
What a great interview! I personally enjoyed reading about Kathleen and her career as the voice of Dora the explorer. I remember watching the show with my oldest goddaughter when she was younger. She loved everything Dora. Thank u Kathleen for many great years of Dora the Explorer. God bless you and take care
I had the pleasure of meeting Kathleen in 2006 when we recorded her (and Diego and SpongeBob) for a touch screen game. She was bright, pleasant and easy to work with. I wish we had been able to do other products with her, because she was more professional than many adults with who I have worked.
i love your voice
I really love you as being Dora because I have learned many things from you an dI enjoy the rest of the cast member. I think that I had learn so many things I didnt know before and I thank you and also I hope that will help my little sis a lot she is 3 years old.
Thank You For This Wonderful Teachings ilu
In my fifties now and have twin girls 2years old
And they love Dora. Its also in Chinese so they
are learning both languages. Theres many
More years to go and Dora will live on through
them as well. Good job there will never be another
Wow I used too watch to Dora and I always wanted to know who is the voice of Dora but you were the first one to be the voice of Dora.
I used to watch Dora the explorer with my niece and nephew wow…. they love it so much its just a music to our ears our day won’t past without DORA it is the best ever!… very educational it teaches the children to be loving, passionate above all discipline and respect. I just love watching it over and over again even though I’m a grown up…Good luck to you dear Kathleen on your venture and THANK you for being a part of my nephew and niece as they grow up may God bless you more as you continue your journey…we are one of your big time fans….
im so upset they changed the voice of dora i grew up with
I love Dora so much, I love her show. It’s very funny. I am her biggest fan ever.You did a great job playing the role of Dora:)
Hi Kathleen my 3 year old Joycelyn love Dora a lot she watch it all the time all she know is Dora Dora she know the song but she will miss you but I hope there is one good like you so when you will do the Dora voice
Although I’m a decade late ( I was 4 when this interview was posted), as you were publishing this article I was most likely watching Dora, drawing in a Dora colouring book, playing a Dora game or anything Dora. As many kids were my age, I was obsessed with Dora the Explorer until around the age of 6 and 7. I think you did great for the voice of Dora and a lot of the Dora toys i had your voice recording lol! Although Diego is also great, it’s sad they didn’t make any Dora / boy products… everything was always bright pink and girly. Diego didn’t give off the same energy Dora gave but they were both great for being the two first Nickelodeon latino characters!
Dora The Explorer