Hello, Yeni, why don’t you begin by telling our readers a little about yourself?
Hola!!! I’m Yeni Alvarez and I am a voice actor. I am proud to call myself a geek. I am obsessed with Nikola Tesla, Escape Rooms, time travel theories and anything sci-fi. I am the voice of Carmela in Handy Manny, Viperine on Monster High, Lego’s video games’ Wyldstyle, Mystique, and Black Widow, Lt. Morales in Heroes of the Storm, and the female Spanish voice Disney Theme Parks worldwide.
How did you begin your career in voice acting?
I was doing a Garcia Lorca play in Miami and they needed to put together a radio commercial to get people to the theater. The studio guy, Carlos De Yarza, liked my voice and kept calling me to audition for other work. We became great friends, and when I left Miami to “make it” in Hollywood, he put all my work on a demo and said “Trust me, you’ll need this in LA.” And he was right. My voiceover career has been a series of happy coincidences.
Is voice acting, or acting in general, something you have always been interested in?
Absolutely! When I was a little girl in Cuba, I used to think cartoons existed on some other realm. Then I grew up and that realm turned into a far away dream… to be the voice of a cartoon. I used to view voiceover as the perfect career, but because I happen to be Latina and had an accent, (which not many character on TV had a Spanish accent back then) I never thought it could be a reality for me… until I booked my first video game, Freedom: First Resistance.
You recently worked with Blizzard on Heroes of the Storm. What was it like working with such a high-profile company?
Heroes of the Storm and Blizzard are at the top of the video game food chain. Working with Andrea Toyias was a whirlwind. She is a superhuman of a director and as bada** as her heroes. She directed Lt. Morales like a female tour de force, focusing on strength and character rather than boobs and bad words.
Do you consider yourself a gamer?
I was the queen of Frogger back in the day! Then Star Trek came out with a cd rom and it was so bad, I decided to pick it back up when technology caught up with my expectations. Just this past week I discovered Oculus Rift, and I’m obsessed! I can’t wait to get one and then you can ask me this question again. ;)
Do you have any upcoming projects you would like to talk about?
Get Blake! Is coming to Nickelodeon (It’s all over the world - except in the US) and I play Carmen De La Cruz, one of the lead character’s mom. Stay tuned and let me know what you think!.
I understand you’ve worked on other large projects, like Happy Feet and Static Shock. I was a big fan of the Static cartoon. Any fond memories you would like to share about such projects?
I looooved playing the villain. Aqua Maria was half girl – half water, and a bada**! I loved that boys cowered around her. HA! The director was Andrea Romano. She was amazing directing me and even though I started out super nervous, worried about my accent, she made me feel at ease. One of the best animation directors I have ever worked with.
Has it been difficult breaking into voice acting as a minority or is the industry pretty welcoming?
Breaking into voice acting is always difficult. Add to that female AND an accent! There aren’t many Spanish accented characters in games or cartoons, but thanks to projects now specifically calling for diversity (multilingual) and authenticity (cross-cultural), those odds are getting better. Yeah, it was a bit rough in the beginning, but the industry can be very welcoming when you work hard on your craft, behave like a professional, and don’t take yourself too seriously. I have a sitcom acting background and was able to bring that to the table.
During our email exchange, I was surprised to hear you also worked on Freedom: First Resistance, a game based on the late Anne McCaffrey’s Freedom series of novels. She’s my personal favorite author. What was that experience like?
Freedom was my very first video game. I played Angel Sanchez, which I believe is the very first Latina Lead character in a video game. I’ve been trying to find any other Latina leads before then, but no such luck. There have been smaller roles and supporting Latino characters before, but, to my knowledge, this video game was the first to feature a Latina Lead.
I walked in that sound studio like I knew what I was doing, and watched the other actors do their thing. I threw myself into the character, and jumped in a world where Earth had been colonized by aliens. Being a fan of sci-fi, this was a subject I was very familiar with. ;)
Has your family been supportive of your career choice?
My family is incredible. My parents watch everything I’m on and my cousins buy the dolls, and videogames. They love hearing all about my Hollywood adventures in voiceover. I also married a voice guy. My husband, Mark DeCarlo, voices Hugh Neutron. He knows the business and understands the passion. And yes, it’s a loud funny house we live in.
Do you have any advice for people trying to get into voice acting?
How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice... There’s work in this industry for everyone, you just have to want it badly enough to be willing to work hard and go get it.
Do you have a message for our Latina readers?
Never give up on your dreams. Persevere. It’s no longer just a boy’s game. ;)
Where can our readers follow you to keep up to date on your current projects?