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Queens cutie cast as ‘Dora’


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesey of Nickelodeon

Queens kid Fatima Ptacek has been cast as the new voice of “Dora the Explorer” — a spunky little girl with a penchant for adventures.

For her first “Dora” audition at the Nickelodeon offices, Ptacek read a few lines and sang two songs — “Rocketeer” by Far East Movement and “Grenade” by Bruno Mars. Ptacek was unsure of the part she was auditioning for at first, but several lines into her mock dialogue, she knew it was for “Dora.” About a month after her original audition, she went back to the studio for a test run in the audio booth, reciting more lines and singing behind a microphone.

On November 8, 2010 she got the call. She was “Dora.”

“I was screaming like a madwoman and crying tears of joy,” exclaimed Ptacek. “I never imagined that this would be possible for me to get this opportunity at such a young age. I was so excited.”

Once a week for the past year, Ptacek has headed to a Manhattan sound studio where she records Dora’s dialogue and songs. Her first episode aired on Monday, January 30. Just like “Dora,” Ptacek is bilingual, speaking both English and Spanish. Her mother is Ecuadorian and her father is of European descent.

“I’m a proud Latina, and I’m not afraid to show it!” laughed Ptacek.

Aside from multilingual abilities, Ptacek feels that she and “Dora” exemplify several other similar characteristics.

“Dora is super determined and all for having adventures,” said Ptacek. “She makes sure she starts and finishes her adventures right. We’re also really positive.”

Ptacek said that her friends have been really supportive and encouraging, while many kids at her school are in disbelief.

“Some kids don’t believe it,” she said. “They’re in awe.”

Ptacek said her parents — a business owner and homemaker — have always been supportive of her budding career in the limelight, helping her run lines and prepare songs, driving her to auditions and doing anything necessary to ensure the starlet’s success.

Ptacek is no novice to the spotlight. The 11 year old is signed to Wilhelmina Models and has appeared in ads for Gap, The Children’s Place and Ralph Lauren and has won spots on “Royal Pains,” “Body of Proof” and “Sesame Street.”

Regardless of her fame, Ptacek says she’s happy staying in school and being a normal kid. She loves spending time in Queens, enjoying the borough’s diverse cuisine and spending time with her parents. Ptacek is also a level-seven gymnast and is currently learning Mandarin Chinese.

“I’m definitely still a kid and I’m definitely always going to be a kid until I have to be an adult,” said Ptacek.

The sixth-grader has been watching “Dora” for as long as she can remember, and recalls growing up with the character. She said that playing the part has yet to sink in.

“I wake up every morning and say I still can’t believe I’m ‘Dora the Explorer!’” she said.

“Dora the Explorer” airs weekdays at 10 a.m. on Nickelodeon.