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– by Gig Patta

For many actors, it is a dream come true to be a part of a live-action Disney remake in recent years.

As for many Latino actors, it’s also a big dream to participate in the voiceover of the Disney translation.

Jerry Velazquez is a Mexican actor and singer who voiced the character Aladdin in the Spanish language version of the film.

He started his career with the Disney Channel Latin America with the sitcom Cuando toca la campana and the worldwide phenomenon Violetta. His theater credits include Next to Normal, Grease, The Addams Family and Rent. He’s a member of a cappella band Los Savinon and their Disney medley surpassed over 12 million views on YouTube. He’s currently on Comedy Central’s series Backdoor and will make his film debut later this year in a leading role with El vengador Serrano.

LRM Online exclusively spoke to Jerry Velazquez on getting the part as Aladdin, imitating the voice of Aladdin and the business itself.

Aladdin is currently available digitally today. It will be out on Blu-ray and DVD on September 10.

Read our exclusive interview below.

LRM Online: I’m pretty excited that the Blu-ray and DVD of Aladdin is actually coming out pretty soon.

Jerry Velazquez: Yeah, me too. I really want to watch it. I did got to watch it was in the theaters, so I just want to watch it over and over again.

LRM Online: Tell me how you got involved into this project for the Spanish translation.

Jerry Velazquez: I’ve been an actor here in Mexico for 12 years. I’d kind of done a little of everything. I’ve done theater, TV, movies and voiceovers. And I have been working for Disney as well. I’ve worked for Disney channel as an actor for five or six years of my life.

I have a great business relationship. We have Disney Channel here in Latin America that some people might not know that. I did one very successful novelas for Disney channel and I also did a sitcom with them. Then I worked for different voiceovers for series or backup vocals for Frozen and different movies. Disney has been looking for musical theater actors lately for their motion pictures voiceovers. I do a lot of musical theater here in Mexico and known for that. I think that’s what got me into that audition with my previous experience with Disney and being a musical theater actor.

LRM Online: Did you say you’ve done voiceovers, Spanish translation voiceovers for previous movies for Disney before?

Jerry Velazquez:
I had never done a character for a Disney movie. I had done a character for series, but this is the first time as a voiceover for a movie as a character. And it’s the main role. It’s just big and beautiful.

LRM Online: This is very exciting for you. When you heard you got Aladdin, what was your initial reaction?

Jerry Velazquez: I was at the dentist. [Laughs] I was looking at my phone while the dentist is working and suddenly a read that I got the part. I screamed and the dentist said, “I’m sorry. I’m sorry. Did I hurt you?” I was like, “No, no, no. I just got the most beautiful news.” [Laughs]

LRM Online: Were you born when the original animated film was around?

Jerry Velazquez: I think I was [two] years old. I was born in 1990. It was my favorite movie. I just watched it over and over again.

LRM Online: What do you like about the live version of Aladdin?

Jerry Velazquez: It’s always fun to see those characters come to life with real people. The production is just beautiful. It’s a great work. I loved some arrangements of the music that they’re just beautiful. The Prince Ali was such a great musical number. There is this new message live action brings about female empowerment with Jasmine wanting to be the Sultan. I love that.

LRM Online: It sounds like you love a lot of things about this film. What was your favorite scene?

Jerry Velazquez: There’s a scene before A Whole New World in which he invited her to go with her to ride the magic carpet. When I was recording that dialogue, I just cried. [Laughs] I couldn’t believe I was saying those words that I had heard a thousand times when I was young. Do you trust me? It’s a simple line. Yet a beautiful line with the music in the background. It just made me cry. Whenever I see that part, I cry.

LRM Online: I haven’t seen the Spanish translation of the film. Did you have the opportunity to sing also or are the songs in English?

Jerry Velazquez: Yes. I also sang. As I told you previously, Disney looks for musical theater actors precisely to act and sing.

LRM Online: Which musical number was your favorite then?

Jerry Velazquez: I loved One Jump Ahead. That’s great number. And A Whole New World. Those are my favorites.

LRM Online: When you had to do a singing translation, did it prove to be a little bit more difficult since it’s not the English original? Or was it tend to be easy?

Jerry Velazquez: Not really. I grew up in the Spanish version, so I always knew how it was. The thing with voiceovers is that you have to be as similar to the real actor you can be. You have a limitation there. It’s not yourself. You’re doing this person in a different language. It should sound like that person. That was challenging. Sometimes I would sing it in a different way and my director would say nope. Too much. We’re not doing that. You too sweet. You need to sound a little more street rat. I would only have to take this kind of direction to sound as much as him as I could.

LRM Online: With this slight difficulty, how much rehearsal do you get before you actually start to record?

Jerry Velazquez: There’s no real rehearsal for voiceovers. It’s a very particular way of working. You just get there. You listen to the music. And then, you go line by line doing it over and over again until it’s good. I already knew the songs., It wasn’t that hard. The hard part was just matching my voice with the actor who played Aladdin.

LRM Online: What objects do you bring with you in a voiceover booth? Since technically you work alone inside of booth by yourself, what do you bring?

Jerry Velazquez: I bring my imagination. [Laughs] That’s all I can bring. You’re there with a script. You have a pen to take notes. You have the screen in front of you with the movie that you’re dubbing. The most important thing is your imagination and your ability of understanding what’s going on very quickly. It’s about feeling the character and understanding where he’s going and where those feelings are coming from so you can actually sound like that.

LRM Online: Do you enjoy doing these voiceovers or more of live acting for yourself?

Jerry Velazquez: They’re so different. There’s a great satisfaction on doing voiceovers, because it’s going to reach out to so many people. It’s a way of making art go a little further. A lot of people don’t speak English or a lot of people don’t know how to read so they wouldn’t watch a movie with subtitles. I feel it’s a great job. As an actor, I love being an actor. My career is more focused on that. The voiceover is something I never want to give though.

LRM Online: How did you get into acting in the first place? Did you always want to be an actor?

Jerry Velazquez: I actually wanted to sing. Then I started doing school plays and school musicals. That’s when I fell in love with the acting too. I did this first TV show with Disney Channel and that’s when I knew. I just love how many opportunities there are here in Mexico for an actor. I’ve been very lucky to work nonstop when I was 17.

Speaker 1: (12:08)
Would you like to break in into the American productions someday?

Speaker 2: (12:17)
I think that’s everyone’s dreams. There are lots of Mexican actors doing main roles in the United States right now. They’re role models for all of us. I spent two months in New York studying acting. I got to know a little more about on how this industry works there. There’s a lot of things that I have to do to actually be able to do audition for some roles. I’ll just getting ready for that, improving my English and improving my acting and getting a great agent in the United States.

LRM Online: Could you talk about some of your future projects after all of this?

Jerry Velazquez: I’m actually in the middle of reading this TV series I’m doing with Comedy Central called Backdoor. It will premiere in September in Latin America. We’re rehearsing for our second season that’s what I’m doing right now. My first movie as one of the main roles will premiere in December. I plan to do more theater there. There are three plays I’m currently reading for. I’m just waiting to know what’s going to happen with them. I’m just planning, working and auditioning and as much as I can.

LRM Online: Hey, thank you for this conversation. I really enjoyed it. Can’t wait till the Blu-ray comes out.

Jerry Velazquez: Thank you so much.

Aladdin is currently available digitally today. It will be out on Blu-ray and DVD on September 10.

Source: LRM Online Exclusive

Gig Patta is a journalist and interviewer for LRM and Latino-Review since 2009. He was a writer for other entertainment sites in the past with Collider and IESB.net. He originally came from the world of print journalism with several years as a reporter with the San Diego Business Journal and California Review. He earned his MBA from the Keller Graduate School of Management and BA in Economics from UC San Diego. Follow him on Instagram @gigpatta or Facebook @officialgigpatta.