Dora the Explorer vs. Nickelodeon

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Caitlin Sanchez, the 14-year-old voice behind cartoon phenom Dora the Explorer, is none too happy with her bosses at Nickelodeon. Her lawyers claim "she was pressured into signing a dubious, complicated contract and then ripped off for millions of dollars." The New York Daily News has the story:

[Her lawyer] said Caitlin was cheated out of "millions, perhaps tens of millions."

In addition to not being compensated for hundreds of hours of recording sessions, Caitlin was forced to fly around the country promoting the show for a "meager travel stipend of $40 a day," the suit charges.

Caitlin and her parents, Hilda and Kevin Sanchez, filed the suit in Manhattan Supreme Court on Wednesday, naming Nickelodeon, MTV Networks and Viacom International as defendants.

Nickelodeon has since fired back, saying Sanchez was paid at least $300,000 for her work. Weighing in on the plight of child actors, Belinda Luscombe at Time writes:

The hard truth about child actors is that it's a buyer's market. There are many, usually with um, very supportive parents, and few opportunities. Plus, their goods are perishable; very rare is the star who has managed the transition to adult star without some seriously grazed knees. (Paging Hillary Duff and Britney Spears!)  It's hard for an adult actor to accept the dimming of their stardom and the reduced attention and access to perks; imagine the effect on far more impressionable children.

For kids whose role consists of an animated voice it's worse, because they have no fame on their side. When Miley Cyrus signed on to be Hannah Montana, she was a nobody. A couple of seasons in, she and her advisors could dig their heels in—and did—for more money and more of a share of the residuals and more opportunities to spread her wings. Before this dispute, few people knew who Sanchez was. The Sanchez family have no cards to play but legal ones, which involve a child in a fight she should be kept out of.
Whatever comes of this, we're sure Dora will persevere. Even in an SNL spoof, her mental fortitude shines through:

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.