Kathleen Herles

INTERVIEW: Kathleen Herles, the OG Voice of Dora the Explorer, Talks Returning to Iconic Franchise

Credit: Madison Polkowitz/Paramount+

I can remember many weekend mornings from my childhood when I would hear the catchy  Do-do-do-d-Dora (alright!), Do-do-do-d-Dora” and  “Hi, I’m Dora!” calling out from the TV screen as I curled up with my mom on her and my dad’s bed. For more than two decades, children across the globe grew up with Dora the Explorer, while one person in particular, grew up as Dora. At just seven years old, the Peruvian-American actress Kathleen Herles was booked to be the voice of a generation and took on the role for nearly 11 years.

In a recent conversation with Remezcla, Herles told us, “When the show first aired, I would come across viewers who would say that Dora was the only person on television that looked like them, which is crazy because she’s an animated character.” As a young child herself, it was hard to grasp just how important Dora was at the time. Throughout her journey, she’s seen how Latine people across the world are proud of her character for being a strong leader teaching us that being Latine or a girl is not a disadvantage. 

Since Dora the Explorer’s last original episode aired back in 2019, no other children’s show or character has been able to fill Dora’s shoes or Boots’ red boots. Noticing the gap that Dora left behind in children’s programming for representation in the Latine community and for bilingual speakers, Nickelodeon decided that the iconic character needed a grand comeback. The new series Dora, streaming exclusively on Paramount+, kicked off on April 12th and, in under two weeks, got confirmation of a season 2 renewal. 

Feeding into our nostalgia, Dora is back with all our favorite characters, including Boots, Swiper, Benny, Tico, and Isa. She’s also better than ever with a modern twist as it’s a CGI-animated series. A notable difference in Dora is that we get to see a lot more of her family who play a huge role in supporting her to be the adventurous, barrier-breaking leader she is. Stepping into the role of Mami is Herles who told Remezcla “When I got the script I had to be like ‘Okay I’m not Dora anymore.’ I can put all the love that I have for this character and everything that I know about her [because I was her] into being her mom. You never think you’ll get to experience something this big twice in your life. It’s a full circle moment for me to be a part of the show again as an adult.”

Now, with the season two announcement, it’s hard for the actress to be any more excited as she says to expect great episodes including one specific episode that was touching to her personally that she’s sure will be plenty relatable. In addition to new episodes on the way, Dora is also becoming a podcaster! “Dora’s Recipe for Adventure” will focus on food, culture, and family following Dora, Boots, and her family as they search for missing ingredients in their favorite dishes.

Elevating the core message and integrity of the character will always come first to Herles, who says that Dora is first and foremost proudly Latina, embracing all her cultures (Peruvian, Cuban, and Mexican), accepting of others, inclusive, and welcomes everyone into her world and family. She genuinely needs her viewers to help her on adventures, showing us that we all need each other. The goal of Dora will always be to promote love, kindness, and growth. 

One thing is for sure: Dora is and will always be so much more than just an animated children’s show.