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Netflix’s Dubbed Shows Turn Voice Artists Into New Global Stars

As streaming services push programming from around the world, voice acting is a growth industry — and even Americans are embracing dubbing.

A selection of Netflix Inc. original content sits displayed in the Netflix app on an Apple Inc. iPad tablet device in this arranged photograph in London, U.K., on Monday, Aug. 20, 2018. The NYSE FANG+ Index is an equal-dollar weighted index designed to represent a segment of the technology and consumer discretionary sectors consisting of highly-traded growth stocks of technology and tech-enabled companies.
Photographer: Bloomberg/Bloomberg

Wendel Bezerra, a voiceover artist in Sao Paulo, attained modest fame when he became the Portuguese-language voice of SpongeBob SquarePants a couple of decades ago. Then came jobs dubbing over Robert Pattinson and Edward Norton.

But the big breakthrough, he says, came a few years ago — when Netflix Inc. stepped up its efforts to woo viewers around the globe. Jobs started pouring in for him and his fellow performers. The number of inbound projects in the local market increased 30-fold, he says. He was invited for local talk shows and magazine interviews. He even got recognized at the shopping mall. “Dubbers are getting visibility,” he said through an interpreter. “I might be the most famous voice talent in Brazil.”