Voice Over by the Numbers

If you’re one in a million, there are at least 7,500 people just like you. So goes the joke/factoid.

I thought about it as I recently perused a P2P site, which advertised access to ‘over 200,000 voice actors.’

Still feel like buying that Powerball ticket?

If mere numbers don’t make question your pursuit of this business, consider the recent merger in the voice over world. Apparently, many actors have, and it’s raising the anxiety level to code red levels.

It need not.

I applaud the recent move by over a dozen agents to create the VO Agent Alliance to show support and belief that what we do is a profession. So let’s treat it as one. What resonates in particular is the spirit of their mission. ‘If you build it, they will come.’ Yes, I often reference films, and pop culture. Get used to it.

My career was blessed with some early success, due to booking a few big jobs, and several generous colleagues who referred my work to clients. That’s one way to do it, but really you need a several prong approach, which often includes doing things you might not consider as ‘creative.’ As a former broadcaster, I was much more into the ‘art’ of the business, but not so much the business of the art.

What a rude awakening to find out you have to treat this thing like a business to sustain it. No agent, no P2P, no well-meaning colleague is going to make us successful, although a combination of all those things are essential to succeed.

The world only turns one way, and we turn with it. One day, at the start of the millennium, as I whined about the digitization of the business, a colleague said, ‘The train is leaving the station, whether you’re on it, or not.’ These days I enjoy the crowded platform upon which we all stand, and discover new ways to travel.

Some days I ride that train, others I’m building my own track, and provide a fun and interesting journey to a fabulous destination.

Where are you going?



Starting Up – Again

In 2004, after working years in radio, I decided to become a full-time voice actor.

A perfect solution to creating work-life balance, the career allowed me to record several hours a day, and be home when my two sons returned from school.  My talented and generous voiceover friend Jeff Berlin provided advice and direction on home studio set up.

I hired an engineer to sound treat a small room in our drafty New England home, installed a Telos, hooked up an mBox, and purchased a couple of mics. With my mantra, ‘If you build it, they will come,’ and a few big auditions, I booked a couple of major projects.  Those, and the smaller ‘bread and butter’ gigs put me on the path of full-time employment.

A funny thing happened on my way to professional and financial bliss. As with any relationship, I became complacent, took voiceover for granted.  Those early years of sending clients holiday greetings, having chatty phone conversations, meeting and greeting my tribe gradually fell off.  My reads got stale. My website, shiny and new in 2010 now felt, and looked so – 2010.  It was the digital equivalent of wearing sweats and a scrunchy.

You probably know where this is heading.

Business hit a plateau.  Professional development stagnated.  As I reflected on how I ended up in this professional cul-de-sac, my Puritanical work ethic urged.  ‘Let’s roll up the sleeves and start again.  After all, it’s spring, the time of new beginnings.’   So I did what I usually do when confronted with the prospect embarking upon a brave, new venture.  I procrastinated.

When that strategy failed, I put together a long to-do list, punctuated with the directive ‘Get Professional Help.’   Because even top-ranking CEO’s know when it’s time to call in their trusty Board of Directors.  Why not someone who spends her days in a padded room talking to herself?

Enter Joyce Castellanos:  Voice coach, earth mother, warm hug of a human being who believed in me even when I didn’t.  Dave Walsh, voice talent and teacher preaches truth telling, a voice over relationship essential.  Since Dave and I share a Bostonians skepticism, we know better than to BS each other. So there’s that, too.

A couple of months later, with refreshed demos, savvy advice and moral support from the fabulous Celia Siegel, and upgraded website courtesy of Denise Biondo’s fantastic vision, it’s not only a reboot. It’s the start of a beautiful relationship.