The use of diverse talent in the localisation industry

Diversity and inclusion have emerged as one of the major priorities for the entertainment industry in recent years as content creators seek to better reflect the world around them in their productions. Diversity has become a key focus for the localisation sector too.

With the rise of streaming platforms aimed at global and diverse audiences and as well as a renewed focus by the TV and film industry on inclusivity, localisation companies have experienced a shift in expectation from their customers. More than ever, they are being asked to consider race, ethnicity, sexuality, gender identity and disability in the casting process.

For companies like VSI the ambition has long been to incorporate diverse talent into projects, alongside an awareness that this may be challenging in certain countries, cultures, and communities. 

A good example of our approach can be seen in two series that launched on HBO Max - Veneno and On the Spectrum.


Spanish language series Veneno navigates the life of transgender singer and television personality Cristina Ortiz Rodríguez, better known as La Veneno, who rose to fame in Spain in the 1990s.

VSI Los Angeles’ creative approach for the Veneno dub was to cast transgender actors to play the roles of all transgender characters in the show. The ambition was to be as true to the original as possible and to make sure there was a diverse and fair representation of the LGBTQ+ community. A lot of the actors were new to dubbing and had no previous studio experience, so VSI organised extensive training sessions for them with its engineers and the director to ensure they were comfortable with the technique and requirements of lip-sync dubbing.

Hit Israeli series On the Spectrum, meanwhile, centers around three roommates in their late twenties each diagnosed with autism.

VSI teamed up with HBO Max and Exceptional Minds – a non-profit academy and post-production studio for people with autism – to produce a US English dub, forced narratives and closed captions for the original series. The main goal for On the Spectrum was to provide an English dub that was respectful and inclusive of the autistic community. So VSI’s casting department sourced actors with or without dubbing experience who identified as being on the spectrum.

Finding the right person to direct the project also played a key role in the outcome of the On the Spectrum dub. HBO Max requested that the director be on the spectrum or have close ties to the community, so the team identified a dubbing director with previous experience in casting and directing autistic actors.


"As the entertainment industry is increasingly focusing on reflecting diversity in the content produced around the world, it is extremely important that this is considered throughout the localisation process where possible and it starts with the talent pool,” says VSI London Managing Director Cornelia Al-Khaled. “That’s why we actively engage and seek to train new talent to increase this pool. This is something we have been passionate about since our founding in 1989 to capture the essence and the tone of the content.”

“At VSI, inclusion and diversity are not new concepts for us. They have been a natural part of our core company values since our earliest days,” says Alex Weiser, VSI Los Angeles’ General Manager, North America. “Everyone feels welcome here regardless of race, religion, gender, sexuality or gender identity and we all love being part of such an eclectic team. Working with HBO on these two titles gave us the opportunity to use our diverse pool of talent and further train individuals to enable representation when casting the English dub. We are very grateful to work on such engaging content and for the opportunity to continue to lead our industry in the right direction.”