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With ‘Encanto’, Stephanie Beatriz Finds Another Voice

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With ‘Encanto’, Stephanie Beatriz Finds Another Voice

Actress Stephanie Beatriz said goodbye to her memorable breakout role as a tough detective in “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” in September, as the hit comedy show ended after eight seasons.

“I would be happy if my name is always associated with Rosa Diaz. It is an honor,” Beatriz said of the fan-favorite character.

But 2021 was largely a year of new beginnings for the 40-year-old actress. In early summer she appeared as Carla, one of the saloon ladies in the film adaptation of the Lin-Manuel Miranda musical “In the Heights”. She has also become a mother for the first time.

Voice acting, a skill created when she and her sister pretended to host radio shows with a Fisher-Price tape recorder, also represented a stable aspect of her output, most recently Netflix’s acclaimed animated limited series ” In “Maya and the Three”.

A self-proclaimed “Disney adult”—her bachelor party was held at Disneyland—Beatriz was greatly disappointed when she was chosen to voice Latina heroine Mirabelle in “Encanto,” the studio’s 60th animated feature set in Colombia. pleasure to. Growing up as part of a legacy of magical tales (“Sleeping Beauty” is a personal favorite), she is stunned, in an adventure about her father’s homeland.

“When your real dream comes true, it’s so bizarre,” she said.

By phone from London, with her newborn, the actress discussed finding Mirabelle’s voice and reminiscing growing up on her favorite animated show. Here are edited excerpts of the conversation.

You were born in Argentina to a Colombian father and a Bolivian mother, and you grew up in Texas. How do you understand your Latino identity?

I feel like an American Latino, which means there are things I stick to, especially in my Latinidad sounds American, which is my love for Selena [Quintanilla] And of country music, because I grew up in Texas. But there are things that feel particularly Bolivian and Colombian, and there are things that very much made my experience as an immigrant felt when I was 2 years old. The thing I identify with most about Mirabelle is her lack of sense of belonging. It reflects my own identity in the United States.

In your early years, did you feel represented in the American media?

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We did a bunch of media interviews recently and John Leguizamo and I were hooked together. He is an icon to me and one of the first Latinos I have seen on TV. I saw him in a filmed version of “Freak,” one of his one-man shows. In that production, he talks about seeing the character of Diana Morales in the play “A Chorus Line” for the first time. And so here I am, watching this Latino actor talk about seeing another Latino in a play and deciding that this was the moment he realized he wanted to be a performer. For me, seeing him was when I realized I wanted to be one too.

Tell me about the process of finding and creating Mirabel’s voice for “Encanto.”

I originally thought it should sound short, and I was leaning into a higher pitch. But the directors pushed me to make her voice more mature. We discussed how she often has to take care of herself as there are so many stars in her family. It is up to him to make sure his needs are taken care of, and with that comes a level of maturity. Also, he is fickle. Unlike so many Disney heroes, he doesn’t have a sidekick to guide him through the story. Mirabelle is sometimes the assistant and therapist to her family. She uses comedy all the time. No other characters were doing sight or audio jokes. It was Mirabelle, and she was very free and fun.

You’ve found a career in voice performances for popular animated series such as “Bob’s Burgers” and “BoJack Horseman.” What do you like the most about this job?

Voice work is one of the only places where it doesn’t really matter how you look, which means you can suddenly become a toucan or a princess or a monster. Your face is not the most important part, and your imagination knows no bounds. When you’re in that recording booth, you close your eyes, and you follow the lead of the animators and the director. I have been very fortunate to have been a big part of what I have done and it was something that I could continue to do over the past two years during this global pandemic.

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George R. What got you excited about voicing Chimi, a character with a traumatic past, in Gutierrez’s Mesoamerican-set animated epic “Maya and the Three”?

George is such a giving producer. I would give up anything anytime to work with them again. Chimi has a lot of pain, which gets me excited about both “Maya” and “Encanto.” People underestimate the ability of children to understand and understand their feelings. When we talk to them, we do them such harm. We don’t think of them as these incredible little brains. In their different ways, both projects address this by saying, children are capable of naming, discussing, and moving on to very adult emotions, because they are just human emotions at the end of the day.

Besides Disney classics, what cartoons were you watching on TV as a child?

I saw a ton of stuff: “Animaniacs,” the old Road Runner and Bugs Bunny cartoons. I loved Tom and Jerry, the eternal battle of good and evil. Also, the “Batman” animated series with Mark Hamill as the Joker. It was so smart and adult. That was my block after school. But then I was also deeply influenced by “Sailor Moon,” which was on early morning TV in Texas. My sister and I would get ready for school around 5 a.m. and I would turn on “Sailor Moon”.

Given that “Encanto” features a racially diverse cast of Latino characters, I wonder what your thoughts were on it. The Colorism Controversy Around “In the Heights”,

“Encanto” does a wonderful job of celebrating the fact that Latinidad doesn’t look aside. Not all Latinos look alike. The film we made was really strong and John Chu had a beautiful vision for the film, but I totally understand why the casting of “In the Heights” gave the Black Latino community an issue. Colorism is real, dark-skinned Latinos are not given leading roles. Their stories are at the fore, it’s so important.

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