On the Netflix children’s series Waffles + MochiBrownsville native puppeteer Michelle Zamora lends her voice to the main character Waffles and also provides the moves that bring her to life. She spoke with the Running about what it’s like to turn a puppet into the star of a TV show.
Did you know straight away that as a Latino puppeteer, you were a rarity in the industry?
It took me years to understand the weight of what it means to be a Latina puppeteer on a set. When I first got to LA I was like, “I’m just gonna do my thing.” But now I can be who I am and have a career playing with puppets. There is still plenty of room to grow for Latino puppeteers.
How did you find Waffles’ voice?
I really wanted to give her a voice rooted in reality. I absolutely didn’t want to give him a high-pitched puppet voice. Much of her character is definitely the essence of who I am. It’s just a lot higher.
Is it harder to work with a puppet while you speak?
It’s actually better that I can play at the moment as Waffles. We relied on improvisation, so being able to experience that was amazing. As a puppeteer, you’re so connected to the puppet, so once you put it on, it’s kind of like the puppet takes over.
What’s the strangest thing you’ve done that isn’t a puppet?
Every time I’m at a restaurant, when I put syrup on my waffles, there’s this little device that opens [on the syrup dispenser] and I’ll make him say anything. I also like the food of the puppeteers. So, I usually go puppeteer my pasta.
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