Alexandria Suarez, 8, of Union City, always loved to watch the Nickelodeon cartoon TV show “Dora the Explorer,” well before she got a starring role.
Suarez was recently cast as the voice of one of the major characters, “Backpack,” in the upcoming fifth season that begins Monday, Sept. 15 at 10:30 a.m.
“I feel honored and super excited to be Backpack, because as a baby and all my years, I always watched who I am now,” said Suarez.
In every episode, Backpack carries various items that Dora may need to solve problems and help people while on an adventure.
“She is a backpack,” said Suarez. “She goes on Dora’s back. She gives Dora stuff she needs to explore. She is like a little helping buddy.”
The show is in English, but it teaches viewers words and phrases in Spanish.
“Dora is bilingual like me,” said Suarez.
Auditions “Our talent department casts a wide net in the search, reaching out to agents, managers, schools, and open calls,” said Teri Weiss, senior vice president of production and development at Nickelodeon Preschool Television, last week.
All of the members of the new cast are children under the age of 13. They include: Caitlin Sanchez as Dora, Regan Mizrahi as Boots the monkey, Jean Carlos Celi as Tico the squirrel, Matthew Gumley as Benny the bull, and Lenique Vincent as Isa the iguana.
“Capturing the spirit of the character was more important than a voice match. We were so fortunate to have an original cast that brought something special to each role, and we wanted the new group of kids to carry on that energy, excitement, and warmth,” Weiss said.
“I love my fellow cast members,” said Suarez. “We have fun together.”
Suarez keeps busy going to auditions nearly every week in either New Jersey or New York City.
“It is a task to balance everything out,” said Marlene Suarez, Alexandria’s mom. She said that school is top priority, but she knows acting is very important to her daughter.
She said that when Suarez was only a few years old, “She stood in front of the television and she said, ‘Mom, I want to be on TV and movies.’ “
Since then, Suarez has been in radio and TV commercials, a movie trailer, and a theater production. But her current role as the voice of Backpack is her favorite gig so far.
“It is really important to me,” said Suarez. “Commercials will always be there, but as we start growing up, we change our voices, so I want to enjoy this time of being Backpack.”
Outside the recording studio, Suarez said she likes to tap dance, ride her bike, and play with friends. She is also an honor roll student in third grade at a local public school, where her favorite subject is math.
Suarez is also thinking about the future.
“When I grow up, I am going to be a singer and a vet,” said Suarez. “I want to help the animals because I see in the news that animals are always being treated badly.”