Using My Real Voice
I've always been interested in voiceover work, but I've never really given it a shot. I did a voiceover for a student interactive art project once. And I used to make pre-show announcements at the Asolo Repertory Theatre (thanking sponsors for coming, announcing post-show talk-backs, and the like).
My voice gets me noticed. It's lower and fuller than you might expect if you just saw a photograph of me. And when I was in college, I was told things like, "that voice is going to get you into grad school," and, "you're not just a run-of-the-mill ingenue; your voice makes you stand out." (Hey, if having an unexpected voice worked for Emma Stone, Kathleen Turner, and Lauren Bacall, why can't it work for me?)
I don't always use my real voice. I was blessed with a wide vocal range (4 octaves), so I often speak higher. I think it makes me sound more friendly and approachable. It also makes me sound a lot younger, which occasionally inspires people to ask if I attend the local high school (they always seem surprised to hear that I have a Master's Degree).
Despite my distinctive voice, I've never pursued voiceover training. I've been asking people about it for years (since I was living in Chicago), and I'm excited when Mercedes Rose writes posts about her voiceover career... but for some reason, I never took the leap.
That's going to change.
On Monday night, I attended "LifeRaft: Voices Over New York", which was a SAG Foundation event. If you're unaware, the SAG Foundation hosts events in NYC and LA that are free (yes, FREE!) to any member of SAG-AFTRA or AEA (some events even allow you bring a friend).
At the event, I ended up meeting former Unscripted blogger Stacey Jackson! We've been friends on Facebook for years, but had never met in real life. She works for the SAG Foundation, and was organizing the event.
And what an event it was! Hosted by Joan "The Voice" Baker, Voices Over New York was enlightening and inspiring.
Ms. Baker invited her friends Rodd Houston (voice of Verizon/Fios/NFL/NBA) and Karen Jacobsen ("Aussie Karen" the GPS Girl) to speak about their experiences as voice artists. Then she had a panel of the "crème de la crème" of the voice over industry (Rudy Gaskins, Donna DeSeta, Billy Serow, Jason Sasportas & Dave Maciolek) speak about how to get jobs, and what they look for in voice talent.
Five lucky audience members were chosen to read copy in front of the panel... and after asking Saint Genesius to pray for me, I was chosen!
I was given a 15-second piece of copy for Chex Mix, and whisked off into another room to be coached by Rodd Houston and Karen Jacobsen. They had me try my copy in my "high retail voice" before deciding on my "deep big girl voice." Rodd said he loved my voice, and Karen said she found me to be highly marketable!
Then came the intimidating part: reading copy. I've never had a voiceover audition before, and my first one ever was in front of a massive studio audience and a panel of industry specialists. So crazy!
Donna DeSeta was the panelist assigned to give me feedback. I ended up doing four "takes" under her guidance. What a stupendous opportunity!
And afterwards, everyone in the audience was so supportive. Kind actors in the audience approached to tell me they believed that I had a future in voice work. How lovely that is. How gracious of them to be so encouraging. I hope to always spread positivity to other aspiring artists in the way that others did for me that night.
So I've made a decision now to invest in a brand new side of my career. I'm going to start training in voiceover technique, and I'm going to make a demo. I'm finally ready to start. :)
Does anyone out there do voiceover work? Share your stories about how you started in the comments!
(headshot by Janna Giacoppo)