Caitlin Sanchez, the teen who formerly voiced the Dora The Explorer cartoon character starting in 2007, has filed a lawsuit against Nickelodeon alleging that the network bilked her out of millions of dollars. The suite claims that Sanchez’s parents were pressured to sign a 14 page contract within about 20 minutes without the presence of a lawyer. According to the Sanchez family, they were told that if they didn’t sign the contract immediately the position would go to another girl. Sanchez was paid around $5,000 an episode, but was allegedly stiffed out of hundreds of hours of pay and given just $40 a day to travel around the world promoting the show. Here’s more:
Caitlin Sanchez, 14, who voiced Dora on Nickelodeon’s Dora the Explorer beginning in 2007, and her parents are suing the network, claiming they were pressured into signing a complicated contract and then cheated out of millions of dollars, reports New York’s Daily News.
The suit claims Sanchez was woefully underpaid, not compensated for hundreds of hours of recording, and forced to promote the show for a “meager travel stipend of $40 a day.”
Sanchez’s lawyer, John Balestriere, tells the paper she was cheated out of “millions, perhaps tens of millions” of dollars after being pressured to sign an “unconscionable” 14-page contract that the family had just 22 minutes to review without a lawyer’s help.
“I’ve never seen as convoluted and inscrutable contract as I’ve seen here,” Balestriere says.
The suit charges that Nickelodeon, MTV Networks and Viacom International “used Caitlin, unjustly enriching themselves of millions of dollars in profits from the series and branded products, which Caitlin performed and promoted.”
David Bittler, a spokesman for Nickelodeon, called the claims “baseless.”
“Unfortunately, Caitlin’s voice changed and she was no longer able to portray the Dora character, as happened with the actress who originated the role,” Bittler said in a statement Thursday. “Caitlin’s contract was extensively negotiated through her agent and in compliance with her union. She was well-compensated for her work and for personal appearances. We have enjoyed working with Caitlin on Dora the Explorer these past three years, and we did in fact offer her a contract for other work with us.”
Sanchez was the second voice of Dora. Did the first actress who voiced the part get stiffed too? The original Dora, who started with the show on its premiere in 2000 and was the voice of Dora for 10 years, was a now 19 year-old named Kathleen Herles. I found an interview with her after she left the show, and she had a lot of positive things to say about her experiences as Dora. That doesn’t mean that Sanchez wasn’t scammed or that her parents weren’t strongarmed into an unfair contract, just that the original Dora doesn’t seem to share her experiences. Still, it’s a multi-billion dollar franchise and it seems like the voice actresses should be compensated accordingly. If Herles didn’t get a cut of the profits, and she probably didn’t, she got screwed too.