Fashion not interpreting

When most people think of a Red Carpet event they think about Fashion and Celebrities.

Not interpreters.

So, kudos to the E! Network for understanding the importance of allowing their Spanish and French speaking viewers the opportunity to enjoy the Red Carpet in their own language.  Code Switch Media is excited to bring you a behind-the scenes interview from Interpreter Extraordinaire, Esther M. Hermida.  

Interpreting for Simulcast
Esther rocks the Red Carpet

Esther is a federally certified court interpreter who has been in practice for 25 years,  Apart from legal interpreting she does conference interpreting, simulcast interpreting, voice overs, commentating, and works as a dialect coach for actors who need help with their Spanish accents and pronunciation.

She also helped found AIJIC, a nonprofit association that represents independent court interpreters in California in matters that impact the interpreting profession.  A strong voice of experience and support for fellow interpreters, Esther was eager to share her insights about how she has achieved her professional goals.  What were some practical steps that led her to be chosen as a member of the team interpreting for the E! Red Carpet coverage of the Golden Globes on January 10, 2016?

SAY YES!

“I put myself out there.”  Esther said when I asked her how she has accomplished so much in her professional life.  “It’s not that I am so much better at interpreting than everyone else. I just don’t say no when someone asks me to do something I haven’t done before.  Even if it is intimidating, I say yes and then I figure out what I need to do and do it.”  The Golden Globes came about as a result that mindset. While working as an accent coach for the actors on a medical video, the CEO came to her and asked her if she did narration. “I have never narrated anything.” Esther told me.  “But, I told her that I would do it.”  The CEO was very pleased with the results. When the E! Network was looking to hire interpreters for the Golden Globes the agency that had hired her to do the medical video remembered her work on the narration. They called Esther and told her to send a voice sample in. “I really had no idea how to do a voice sample. But, I am actually a fan of the E! Network, so I knew that they would want high energy. I just took out my iPhone and recorded myself doing some Golden Globe related material, then a Q&A type interview. I changed up the tempo, changed the sound of my voice a bit. Kept it fun and energetic.” A day later she was called in for an audition.

“Although I had already done simulcast interpreting for the Latin Grammys, and the Daytime Emmys, and on-camera interpreting for the Dr. Phil Show, this was the first time I had been asked to audition.  It was a little bit scary, but I went in and did my best.”

She was thrilled to hear that she had been chosen for the team of 4 interpreters who would do the Spanish simulcast. While the French team was in the 8th year for the simulcast to the E! audience in France, this was the first time E! has done a simulcast for the Spanish speaking audience in the U.S.

The team consisted of EstherGabriela Sosa, a federally certified court and conference interpreter/actress, Eduardo Welter, a court and conference interpreter/actor/former famous Mexican boy band member, and Sebastian López Hinton, an actor, and a voice over actor.

Esther was chosen to interpret for Guiliana Rancic, Eduardo for Ryan Seacrest, and Gabriela and Sebastian did all of the interviewees.

team Interpreters interpreting for the red carpet
Team Interpreters L to R: Sebastian López Hinton, Gabriela Sosa, Eduardo Welter, and Esther M. Hermida

“I spent the entire day before the event watching all of the Youtube videos of Guiliana doing interviews that I could find.  It was important to get an idea of her style of speaking, but also to memorize the sound of her voice.  Sometimes while you are interpreting, the camera will pan to show, say, Leonardo DiCaprio getting out of his limo. But the hosts are still commentating in the background, which means you have to be able to pick out the voice that you are interpreting for even if you have no visual.”

 “Even though we were at the E! studios, not the actual venue, we had to have the same energy in our voices as the hosts of the event.  So Eduardo and I stood up most of the time. There was one interview where Guiliana had a lightsaber fight with Jacob Tremblay, the young star of Room. I was actually moving like I had a lightsaber and was sparring with someone. When the commercial breaks would come on, I would pretend there was music playing and dance in the studio to keep the energy level high.  This is the first time I have ever worked on a team with four interpreters. They all did such an amazing job. Gabriela and Sebastian interpreted for so many different people! And let me tell you, Eduardo was Ryan Seacrest.  But, the best part was that my mom heard me! It was such an incredible experience.”

“Obviously, I didn’t just start out interpreting for events like the Red Carpet. There are intentional steps you have to take to grow your business and your brand. You are an entity. You are an independent business owner.  If you want to take action right now, today, here are a few ideas to help you move toward accomplishing your own professional goals, whatever they may be.”

BUSINESS CARDS

“It sounds really basic, but so many interpreters don’t have a nice business card.  Mine has a small photograph of me and my contact information.  I want people to remember me. A photo gives them an easy way to do that. Also, studies have shown contacts are much more likely to hang on to a card with a photo. If you are a professional interpreter without a professional business card, go out and get some made this week!”

NETWORK

“But don’t network just to network.  Network with a purpose.  Go out and try to get to know a variety of professional colleagues.  I belong to the ATA, but I also belong to the Latina Lawyers Bar Association even though I am not an attorney.  I go to their events and I make connections with the members because these are the people who I want as my direct clients.  One of the members I became friends with was later appointed as a judge and she asked me to interpret for her grandmother at her swearing in ceremony.  That was a real honor.”

DO WHAT YOU ARE CALLED TO DO

“Last Year, the Special Olympics came to L.A. and they asked for volunteer interpreters.  I wanted to do it because I respect the organization and what they do. But many colleagues said “No, don’t do it! You will hurt the profession if you give your services away for free.”  I respected their opinions and their right to feel that way. However, I felt very strongly that I was called to volunteer, so I did. I put together a team of interpreters and we did the event. Well, not only did our team receive a recognition scroll from the LA City Council, the organizers of the event were so grateful for our work that they went back and reworked the budget in order to pay us for every hour we had worked. And they paid us more than we would have made working for an agency. Later, I got 2 very large contracts specifically because I volunteered to interpret for the Special Olympics.  So, if you feel strongly that you are called to something, especially if it is to serve others, follow your instinct. It will come back to you in so many good ways.”

To find out more about this amazing lady and see her complete CV go to http://certifiedspanishinterpreter.com

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