Alicia Ernand is a highly respected Spanish dialect coach. Her degree in Psychology from Florida International University, coupled with her degree in Interpretation and Translation from UCLA, are instrumental to her success. Although Spanish is the official language of 20 countries, there are significant differences in terms of the nuances of meaning in words, accents, cadences, and idiomatic expressions. Ernand’s bi-cultural expertise is key to her ability to incorporate all these dynamics into her coaching style.
In her private practice, she coaches a wide variety of actors: series regulars, academy award winners, telenovela stars, working actors, and commercial voice-over actors. Their common goal is to increase their English and Spanish accent expertise. Gone are the days where actors who spoke English with an accent were cast strictly in bit parts portraying immigrant characters in subservient positions. There is a tremendous influx of films and TV shows portraying actors code switching from English to Spanish, and Spanish to English. This is evident in both American and Spanish productions. After the infamous words, “It’s a wrap,” many dedicated actors continue working with Ernand to perfect their grammar and vocabulary skills in preparation for red carpet events, press junkets, and promo tours. They are inspired by her slogan, “Savor your accent with proper grammar.”
Her TV Dialect Coaching career started 15 years ago teaching the late John Spencer to speak Spanish with a Cuban accent in his role as White House Chief of Staff on the The West Wing. On True Blood, she coached Kevin Alejandro, the late Nelsan Ellis, Fiona Shaw, and Paola Turbay to speak Spanish with the infamous lisp used in Spain. In May of 2019, Ernand joined Mayans MC for Season 2. She enjoyed the dynamics of the show so much that she returned in 2020 for Season 3, and looks forward to a Covid-free Season 4 in 2021! The setting takes place in Baja California, which is a melting pot for a rich variety of Mexican accents due to the proximity to the border. Working with a predominantly international Hispanic cast including Carla Baratta, Danny Pino, Ada Maris, and Emilio Rivera, she enjoyed the variety of language issues she tackled ranging from accent neutralization, to accent acquisition, to accent omission.
In an ideal situation, Ernand prefers to discuss language issues with directors, writers, and script translators at the pre-production stage. She has a keen eye for spotting false cognates, syntax irregularities, and idiomatic expressions that create sub-titles challenges! However, once on the set, when there are last minute re-writes, she is very skilled at proposing creative problem solving techniques when actors are struggling with pronunciation issues, code switching from Spanish to English and the misuse of Spanglish.
For commercials airing on Telemundo and Univision, two of the main Spanish television networks, the big demand is for a neutral Spanish. Even in productions where lip-synching is planned for the finished product, Ernand has to coach the actor to use his/hers articulators correctly. One such project was a very popular L’oreal campaign. She coached Beyonce, Elizabeth Banks, and Eva Longoria Parker. The actresses had to perfectly pronounce the words in Spanish so that the lip-sync looked flawless.
To date, her most rewarding professional challenge was coaching Japanese Academy Award Winner, Kaori Momoi, in the film La Habitación. She plays the role of a Chinese, Spanish speaking immigrant, who lived in Mexico in the late 1800’s. Through a Japanese interpreter, Momoi and Ernand worked in perfect harmony.
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