The girl who voices Dora The Explorer says Nickelodeon cheated her of millions

NEW YORK - MAY 22: Actress Caitlin Sanchez attends Nickelodeon's 'Mega Music Fest' at the Brooklyn Academy of Music on May 22, 2010 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images)
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.”

[From People]

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.

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 26: Actress Caitlin Sanchez arrives at the 41st NAACP Image awards held at The Shrine Auditorium on February 26, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images for NAACP)

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 12:  Actress Caitlin Sanchez arrives at the 40th NAACP Image Awards held at the Shrine Auditorium on February 12, 2009 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images for NAACP)

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30 Responses to “The girl who voices Dora The Explorer says Nickelodeon cheated her of millions”

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  1. Megan says:

    i love her hair!

  2. HotPockets says:

    Viacom who owns Nickelodeon, is a horrible, immoral company,who just cares about maximizing their own profits. Of course this story is true.

  3. CandyKay says:

    Not to be the PC police, but “gipped” is an unflattering reference to gypsies, or Roma. Like “welshing” on a bet, it’s a good candidate for the language rubbish bin.

  4. Proud Romanian says:

    I also believe Nickelodeon execs gladly and knowingly cheat their young stars.

    Btw, sorry, but “gipped” (gypped) is a derogatory term originating from mid-nineteenth century American distrust of the original nomadic salespeople–Gypsies. This blog is better than that.

  5. Kayleigh says:

    Not surprised at all, after reading about Jhonen Vasquez, the creator of Invader Zim, I was disgusted by what Nickelodeon had done to him. Which is sad because I am a huge fan of their cartoons. But after reading that, the appeal of their shows kind of went away.

  6. Johnny Depp's Girl says:

    This girl is cute. They shouldnt have stiffed her like that. Share the wealth you a**holes. There is plenty to go around!

  7. krissy says:

    I think it is sad that her parents would sign that contract to begin with, it’s one thing for a person to do it themselves, but it’s you child’s life you are signing away for god’s sake. Maybe they should have just walked away from that one but they saw dollar signs and weren’t about to pass up the chance to pull a Lohan

  8. mel says:

    This might come back n bite Nic in the azz especially on child labor laws.

  9. GatsbyGal says:

    @CandyKay and Proud Romanian – Are you guys seriously doing this? Go find something else to gripe about.

  10. Roxanne75 says:

    Um….can anyone be happy for what they have these days? A job is a great thing. Appreciate what you have. People always want more more more…

  11. Celebitchy says:

    I’m sorry for the “gipped” usage, I will change that wording and make sure I don’t use it again! I’ve had to write fast today and sometimes mistakes are made. I didn’t know (I did, but I forgot!) and will make sure not to use it in the future.

  12. Jo 'Mama' Besser says:

    So, the first voice actor worked for ten years from the year 2000 on, but the new girl voiced it from 2007 to 2010? Why pay two actresses to do exactly the same thing for three years? A parsimonious company would like that would do such a thing?

    If they want you to sign something so shortly after presenting it you’re getting scammed. That’s not enough time to even read the thing. If there’s a lesson, I guess it’s to always get your own lawyer first, especially where the finances of a minor are concerned. Nickelodeon is staffed by a lot of people who could described as ‘troll bitches from Hell’, but they only did the moustache-twirling that day, it was this girl’s parents who signed her life away. Viacom, ugh. It’s just like ‘Bill Gates’ said to Homer Simpson, you don’t get to be the richest man in the world by signing a bunch of cheques.

  13. lucy2 says:

    I wouldn’t be surprised if they gave her parents a wacko contract and underpaid her. But she is a working actress and had an agent at the time, so how did that happen? Her agent should have known better.
    Somehow I’m getting the feeling that yeah, maybe she was underpaid, but at the same time, maybe her agent and parents were used to the cash rolling in for a few years and now that it’s done, are looking for more.

  14. Tuatara says:

    Dora the character used to be a kick-ass girl who was active and explored and did all kinds of cool stuff. Now it seems that the Dora dolls are all about beauty and hair and clothes.

    Dora sold out. Damn it. I second the “Viacom ugh” sentiment.

  15. Katija says:

    @ Celebitchy

    I may be wrong here, but I believe that when it’s spelled “jipped” it’s not considered offensive. Don’t shoot me if I’m wrong, but a professor told me that.

    And anyways, this girl is really pretty. I hope she has a good career.

  16. call-in says:

    Excuse me, I find the word “screwed” incredibly offensive. It is derived from the patriarchal tradition of oppressing women. Totally not PC.

    Also, I resent the use of the word “stiffed.” And “cheated.” And “Nikelodeon.” So un-PC.

  17. lu says:

    Hay no Dora!

  18. gabs says:

    I believe the story. If they asked her to sign within 20 minutes then obviously it was a scam

    This is a gossip blog I cant believe people are bitching about being politically correct

  19. Chris says:

    Swiper, no swiping!

  20. Proud Romanian says:

    “This is a gossip blog I cant believe people are bitching about being politically correct.”


    Gossip blogs are always on PC patrol. A few examples: K-Stew’s likening being papped to being raped–the blogs had a heyday with that one. Or what about Mr. Cent’s recent tirade against men who don’t perform oral sex on women–the blogs turned that into an anti-gay comment. Just today there was a post about Anderson Cooper’s plea to end the media’s casual use of the word “gay” as a defamatory adjective describing something that’s uncool. Then there’s just about everything John Mayer has ever done or said… My point is that gossip blogs report on celebrity PC guffaws all the time.

    Celebitchy is one of the few intelligent gossip blogs. I’m sure they would rather not be blatantly hypocritical, even if unintentional, which was demonstrated by CB changing the wording.

    Sheesh. Why the rage, people? It’s not like Candy Kay and I were being jerks about it.

  21. Aquarius says:

    Having a relative who worked for the Nick/Viacom machine, which yes, cares more about filling its pockets than its employees, this doesn’t surprise me at all. I hope she gets what she’s entitled to.

  22. Bee says:

    @Proud Romanian and Candy Kay I appreciate the both of you for enlightening everyone on the racist origins of those words. I had no idea those words were offensive, and I will be sure to never use them. I don’t understand why other posters were so hostile towards you for pointing this out. Why is it so hard for some people to remove offensive words from their vocabulary? I would much rather cut a word from my vocabulary than “cut” someone emotionally by using those words. Thank you again.

  23. Isa says:

    I had no idea about the word as well. The things you learn at Celebitchy…..

  24. Celebitchy says:

    LMAO @Chris – I should have thought of that!

  25. Andrea-2 says:

    My take on it is that people are starting to feel that they need to google every single thing they say before someone gets offended.

    I mean, the word’s origin has no meaning to the person saying it. In other words, when I say I got “gipped”, I’m not envisioning a caravan and some bangle-wearing nomad. I just mean I didn’t get what was coming to me.

    My question is: Where do we stop?

  26. ! says:

    @25 agreed. It’s one thing if people know the origins and continue to use it, reinforcing old stereotypes. But in this case, hardly anyone knows what it means. Doesn’t that mean the word has lost its power? Aren’t we giving that power back by getting all hush hush OMG I’ll never use it again! over it?

  27. The Bobster says:

    Since when are cartoon voices worth millions or have product rights? She didn’t create the character or make the merchandise.

    I wonder how much Alan Reed or Mel Blanc ever made. This girl has made $100′s of thousands for reading a script in a booth.

  28. tripmom says:

    There is no way in hell our girls will be allowed to watch this show. Dora doesn’t talk, she shouts in an irritating intonation, and I really don’t want our kids mimicking it. The kid on “Lil’ Bill,” the Bill Cosby kids’ show did the same thing. He yelled rather than talked. I do seriously fault shows like this for contributing to a generation of kids that are not learning to represent themselves as intelligent, articulate adults. They sound like brain dead valley girls.

  29. Wiley says:

    From the Columbian Encyclopedia:

    “Gypsies or Gipsies [from Egypt, because of an inaccurate idea that Gypsies came from a so-called Little Egypt], a traditionally nomadic people with particular folkways and a unique language, found on every continent; they often refer to themselves as Roma. Their language, called Romany, belongs to the Indo-Iranian family and is closely related to the languages of NW India. Their blood groupings have been found to coincide with those of S Himalayan tribes, and genetic mutations they possess are otherwise found only among Indians and Pakistanis. Gypsies worldwide are estimated to number between 10 and 12 million.”

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