By Aleyna Maria Tusa
Could you tell us a bit about yourself and your background as an interpreter?
My name is Anna Vianna. I’m 52 years old and live in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. I have two children, ages 22 and 18. I am also an avid cyclist and wine and food enthusiast. I trained as an interpreter at the Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro, graduating in 1996. I started working immediately after graduating.
Interpreting for an event as well known as the Oscars comes with its fair share of nerve-inducing moments. What are your tips for keeping your cool while delivering a stellar performance?I guess the golden rule of interpretation also applies to the Oscars: be prepared! Knowing what to expect, be it by watching previous ceremonies, learning more about the nominees, or keeping track of current events (especially politics in the US) is the best way to keep your cool.
I try to learn more about the nominees, silly things like the name of their hometown or the name of a first grade teacher that might have influenced them, because when these people get an Oscar, they sometimes babble, and start spitting out names nervously.
But above all: do not consider your performance (or yourself, for that matter) stellar! We are always learning and there is always space for improvement. Interpreters have to be very careful not to plateau in their skills. Every conference, every event, demands respect and preparation.
How did you come to receive such an amazing professional opportunity?
For many years the “voice” of the Oscars in Brazil was that of a wonderful colleague, named Elizabeth Hart. When she passed, the broadcasting company responsible for the transmission held tests in Rio and many interpreters participated. I got the job! As simple as that! I was told that my voice “carried well” on TV, whatever that means…
The first time I interpreted for the Oscars, I was very nervous, of course. Elizabeth Hart’s son, who worked at the broadcasting company, was there and he stayed with me, supporting me. I’ll never forget that. It was like she was there, passing the baton.
Did you have any “star-struck” moments or interesting stories you can share about the experience?
Well, I guess no one is immune to Hollywood glamour. I remember celebrating when a couple of stars received awards while interpreting. I’m pretty sure I gave my excitement away by the tone of my voice… Not very professional, huh?
It’s funny how other colleagues see the Oscars. Some interpretation students have come to me asking how it was, as if I got to meet the actors. They are more star-struck than me.
Was there anything special that you did to prepare for this assignment?
For the Oscars, I try to watch all the movies that show in Brazil. I watch all the previous award ceremonies, such as the Golden Globes, BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) and so on. I also try to watch things like the Daily Show, SNL (Saturday Night Live), and other shows that can give me a taste of what kind of jokes might pop up during the ceremony. I also research and watch clips of whomever the host will be for that year.
It’s really kind of fun, because I get to go to the movies as homework!
Why did you decide to enter the field of interpreting?
Like many colleagues, I didn’t start my professional life as an interpreter. I graduated in biology and did my Master’s in biophysics, having studied for one year in Paris. When I came back to Brazil and finished my Master’s, I realized that being a researcher wasn’t what I wanted in life. I already spoke English and my sister had just finished interpretation school, so I decided to give it a go.
I left my scientist life behind and worked in a travel agency, a hotel and a shop while I studied interpretation and was lucky enough to start working as soon as I graduated and have been working since then, for 21 years.
Anna Vianna graduated as a Conference Interpreter from the Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro in 1996, and as a Translator, in 1998. Working professionally as an interpreter and translator since then, she opened Simultânea Ltda in 1998, having her sister as partner. Her working languages are Portuguese, English, and French. Anna also has a BA in Biology, and a MA in Biophysics, at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, having done part of her research in Paris, at the Université Paris VII, Institut Jacques Monod. Since 2006, Ms. Vianna has worked for the IMF, having done more then 25 missions abroad for the Fund, and worked during the Word Bank and IMF Annual Meetings in Washington, Singapore, Istanbul, Tokyo, and Lima. She is the official voice for the Oscar Ceremony transmission at the main Brazilian broadcasting company, Rede Globo, having been highly praised in media for her good work. Anna is a member of major national and international interpreter and translator’s associations (www.apic.org.br , www.sintra.org.br and www.aiic.net). Born and raised in Rio, she has two children and is an amateur cyclist and a foodie.