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Super Spanglish Mom

Why I owe her my career

Even though I was born in New York City, I spoke Spanish for the first five years of life. Both my parents were from Colombia and they were intent on teaching my sister and I their mother tongue. I remember letting out a huge belly laugh the first time my father spoke to me in English. The Convent of the Sacred Heart nuns almost didn't let me start kindergarten but after a short period of time I was yapping all day in English. However, as soon I stepped through the door of my house, Spanish was the only way Mom would allow us to communicate. She was relentless: 'pass the rice please' was forbidden. 'Me puedes pasar el arroz por favor?' was the only way I was going to get an extra helping of Cece's delicious rice. Some days I hated her for it. At school I was desperate to fit in but with a name like Pilar that kids constantly made fun of and one of the few students who spoke a foreign language, being like the other girls was pretty much out of the question. In high school I took beginning Spanish and got an A. French class was also easy to pick up. Maybe having more than one language up my sleeve wasn't so bad.

Years later, right after New Year's, I left for Colombia on the spur of the moment. Nothing much was going in the city, just another freezing New York winter. Off I went to sunny Ibague, for what I thought was a three week vacation to catch up with friends and relatives and get over a failed marriage. I ended up staying three months, enjoying a variety of activities I hadn't experienced before: afternoon teas, painting classes, and bowling nights, all the while speaking in Spanish. I started envisioning what life in another language could look like.

I ended up staying nine years in Colombia playing 10 different characters on telenovelas, singing in a band, and performing on stage, en Español. I eventually moved to Miami where I continued to use both languages for on-camera and voiceover work. In Los Angeles I just completed a bilingual feature film.

I get asked all the time how it's possible that I speak without an accent in either language, I am quick to acknowledge that is it my mom who deserves all the credit. Gracias mama. #telenovelas #voiceover #bilingualvoiceover #television


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