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Queens resident Ftima Ptacek to be the new voice of Dora the Explorer

Queens resident Ftima Ptacek has come a long way since her first gig as a model in 2005 for Time Out Kids. She's appeared in print ads for Gap and Benetton, TV commercials for McDonald's and Bisquick, and even Saturday Night Live. Now, almost two years after she stopped by the Time Out Kids offices to tell us what she's been up to, the eleven-year-old is making headlines again. Fatima will be the new voice of Dora the Explorer when the seventh season of the popular Nickelodeon preschool show begins on Monday, January 30. We asked Ftima what it's like to take on the role of such an iconic character.

What does it feel like to be the new voice of Dora?
It's amazing. I am so honored, because the show is viewed by millions of preschool children around the world. Being Dora is really fun, but it's also a big responsibility. Children learn many valuable lessons by watching the show, so I always feel that I have to do my best every time I go into the booth to record an episode because I know those kids are relying on me.  
Were you a fan of Dora the Explorer when you were younger?
Yes! When I was little, I really enjoyed watching the show. In my house, I grew up speaking English and Spanish, so I could identify with Dora. She easily switches back and forth between both languages...just like me! I remember that I loved learning from Dora, and I saw her as a role model, because she always had positive energy and was determined to succeed in her adventures. What's really cool is thinking about me being able to put smiles on kids' faces, like Dora did for me when I was little. I also find it incredibly satisfying to know that I'm teaching valuable lessons to children about working together, and always staying determined and positive.
You've been a New York City resident your whole life. What are some of your favorite things to do in the city?
I love exploring neighborhoods, especially and Little Italy, shopping with my mom in Soho and eating in Chelsea. I enjoy visiting museums, seeing , and checking out cultural events, especially musical and dance performances. Sometimes, I enjoy walking around Times Square during the middle of the day when it's packed, just to watch the people. Every once in a while, after a really long day, my dad treats me to something special—he drives me to the Sweetleaf coffee house in Long Island City (10-93 Jackson Ave at 11th St) for a delicious hot cocoa and then to La Nueva Bakery in Jackson Heights (86-10 37th Avenue at 86th St) for some awesome Uruguayan empanadas.

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