Spotify’s ‘Sandra’ Podcast Goes Global—and Local—With ‘Sara,’ ‘Susi,’ ‘Sonia,’ and ‘Sofia’ Debuting in France, Germany, Mexico, and Brazil

In April 2018, Gimlet (now a Spotify company) launched Sandra, a seven-part fictional drama depicting a world where artificial intelligence isn’t so artificial. With big names (and voices) like Alia Shawkat (Helen), Kristin Wiig (Sandra), and Ethan Hawke (Dustin), the show launched to critical acclaim. And due to its relevant themes of technology, security, and self-actualization, Spotify deemed it a story worth telling listeners around the world. 

So on Tuesday, July 7, Spotify and Gimlet will premiere an exclusive localized version of the Sandra podcast in four markets: France, Germany, Brazil, and Mexico. The show has not only been translated into each local language—it’s also been specially adapted via a culturally relevant name (Sara in France, Susi in Germany, Sonia in Mexico, and Sofia in Brazil), a customized storyline, and more.

Other podcasts have been translated, but these Sandra adaptations will be the first truly localized adaptations ever made of a hit fictional podcast. The Spotify Studios teams in France, Germany, Brazil, and Mexico have worked with local directors to adapt the script, cast local talent, and reimagine the podcast with an appreciation for local culture, language, and nuance. In each market, the podcast has an A-list cast mixed with traditional TV and film actors as well as digital creators and influencers. 

Take a look at the names behind each market’s version and the unique spin the creators have taken to make it their own.

France — Sara

  • Starring Virginie Efira as Sara (Sandra), Natoo as Helen, and Stéphane De Groodt as Dustin
  • Biggest change for Sara: “The geographical localization of the story is a change which required a lot of thinking. We needed to find the French equivalent of Helen’s hometown, a small city with little perspective and excitement. But it also needed to fit the story’s actions in a realistic manner. Which French city is close enough to a prison so that you can go and come back in a day as Helen does when she visits her husband? This is how Guymon became Ruffec, in the French region of Charentes.” – Claire Hazan, Head of Studios, France & Benelux
  • Biggest challenge for Sara:Keeping the original rhythm and dynamic of a scene is something that can be tricky when changing languages. The words can be longer or shorter, they can impact how a sentence feels, the duration of a whole scene and, in the end, the pace of the story. We chose to work with a production studio who developed a very specific creative response to that issue. They created a tool which synchronizes the soundwave of the original English-speaking audio and the words in French. It has greatly helped our actors to find the right tone and rhythm for their acting.” – Claire Hazan, Head of Studios, France & Benelux

Germany – Susi

  • Starring Martina Hill as Susi (Sandra), Almila Bagriacik as Sara (Helen), and Bastian Pastewka as Jens (Dustin)
  • Biggest change for Susi: “All the little details that will make it authentic to the German audience. For example, the big change is in where the story is set and things you can hear in the background—watch out for the TV program in one scene.” – Saruul Krause-Jentsch, Spotify Head of Studios Germany
  • Biggest challenge for Susi: “We ended up casting quite big names even for the smallest roles which, obviously, made scheduling and recording difficult from time to time. But after hearing the result, that was all worth it.” – Saruul Krause-Jentsch, Spotify Head of Studios Germany

Mexico – Sonia

Brazil – Sofia

  • Biggest change for Sonia and Sofia: “This is our first podcast project on a global scale on Spotify. Our expectations are high with Sonia in Mexico and Sofia in Brazil.” – Javier Piñol, Head of Spotify Studios in Latin America and U.S. LatinX audiences
  • Biggest challenge for Sonia and Sofia: “Our main challenge when it comes to adapting a global project is that it doesn’t always allow you to introduce some local tones and nuances, but when we decided that Sandra would go global, we agreed on one common goal: to adapt it to the local culture. And that’s exactly what we did by having a local production and casting these talents. The result couldn’t be better.” – Javier Piñol, Head of Spotify Studios in Latin America and U.S. LatinX audiences

The Sandra adaptation marks a podcasting milestone across the world. “Spotify is uniquely positioned to grow podcasting globally, but we know our customers also want authentic local programming,” says Courtney Holt, Global Head of Studios and Video, Spotify. “Adapting Sandra is a great example of that. By thinking and programming locally, and using our creative teams on the ground in each market, we’re able to develop a show that feels like a German, or French, or Mexican, or Brazilian podcast, rather than a translation. Sandra was also Gimlet’s first scripted podcast when it launched in 2018. The fact that podcasting, and specifically Sandra, has drawn such a group of A-List talent in each market is also a great endorsement of the medium growing at a global scale.”

Missed out on the original? Stream Sandra below.