About Me

It’s a Conundrum

I have so many good days, when I am super productive, I have tons of energy, and I get more accomplished than I had ever thought possible. On such days, sometimes a crazy thought creeps through my head: what if they’re gone? What if just as suddenly as they came, I will never get a migraine again? Then, like a load of bricks dropped on my head, I wake from my sleep with the throbbing pain behind my right eye and I hope that I get the medication in me in time so that I can take the lowest dosage possible. So, how can the good days seem so immeasurably good and then the bad days I am just so thankful for each task that is completed. When making toast seems like climbing Mount Everest, the vast contrast between the good days and the bad days of this working mom is mind blowing. But here’s the real kicker: I speak for a living. As a migraine sufferer, on bad days, I don’t want to talk. At all. The sound of my voice seems to echo against the inside of my head and is excruciating. How frustrating that all of the things I am passionate about, including voice over, are not easy on migraine days.

Making it Work

As a working mom I try hard to exhibit good coping for my twins Emma and Jack, so laying curled up in a ball on the sofa all day is not a good longterm strategy for a chronic problem. When I’m “lucky,” and believe me I am using that word loosely, my migraines will come on a weekend and I can sleep them off. Often they come as they like as they are triggered by all sorts of things: stress, lack of sleep, my cycle, the weather, so in short- life triggers them. When they come on a week day I try to take the medicine as early as I can. I tend to be a heavy sleeper and wake up confused, but if I can actually get the medication in me early, that helps. I try to always have both coffee and ginger ale in the house as they help. My strategy then changes. Daily routines will be completed, but anything extra gets pushed to another day. Nothing fun will happen on a migraine day. I try to give myself a break and only do what is essential. Booked work will be recorded. Auditions will likely be skipped. All emails will be replied to. I will likely defer any direct marketing. In terms of mom tasks, if I can ask Harlan to help with anything, I do!

Planning Ahead

My migraines started when I had my twins, almost 17 years ago. It is safe to assume I will have them until the kids go to college, so now, like with everything else, I plan ahead. Here are some tricks that help me a lot, just in case a whopper of a head ache should descend:

              • Pack school lunches the night before. I actually make sandwiches or entrees for a few days at a time so that I just have to grab the sides each night. It really speeds things up!
              • Have set laundry days.
              • Order groceries weekly so your house is always stocked with the basics at minimum.
              • Plan your food for the week. I have a weekly print out so if I am down for the count someone can figure out the food.
              • Make sure to refill the migraine medication regularly. It is terrible to realize that you have run out at 3 am when you really need it. Keep a stock of it on hand.
              • If you cannot drive on your medication, as I often cannot, make sure you have carpool arrangements that are flexible for your kids.

Voice Over Specific Issues and Migraine

There are work related tasks that I will and won’t do on migraine days. I will happily do any self-directed sessions at my leisure. I will happily record short and normal length scripts. A migraine day is not the day to have an ISDN session with new clients and multiple people giving directions. My brain just can’t process the input and it is not a smart, career promoting move. I also wouldn’t promise to deliver 10,000 words of eLearning with a migraine. It doesn’t mean I couldn’t record a few modules, but I pride myself on being a meticulous editor, and nothing is meticulous when you are on such strong headache medicine. The other task I would avoid on migraine days is voice matching. I have a knack for being able to match others’ voices and my own past jobs. But, on a headache day, that is just too tricky and I would wait.

Pros of Working with a Migraine Sufferer

Yes, I wish my migraines would stop and never come back. But, I do think they have changed me. I have so much more understanding of what people with much more serious chronic illnesses go through. I am much more patient. I am genuinely thankful for every non-migraine day. I am very sympathetic when others have to reschedule and are under the weather.

This is written for my twins, Emma and Jack. All I do is for them, all day. Every day.

The Actual Bottom Line

While most of us who work do it because we have an actual financial goal we need to hit, working moms with children at home have goals as role models as well. As my role in my family shifted from that of a stay-at-home mom, a role which I coveted for as long as I could, to a small-business owner who works full-time to contribute meaningfully to my family’s well-being, there is so much that I want my twins, now teens, to take away from this. I spend countless hours in a padded foam booth pursuing my passion for voiceover. There are so many life lessons in the hard work and interactions with both clients and industry friends and colleagues. My hope is the my kids can learn from my experience as a momtrepreneur so that when they have a family and they work they carry not only our family values and ethics with them, but they make good choices because of what I have gone through.

Be Realistic in Your Expectations and Know The Difference Between Your Starting Point and Your Goals

Every one starts somewhere. When I started, I spent a lot of time working on my goals and my business plan, which I reflected on in last week’s blog. You don’t reach your goals over night. Very few people start in life at the top. In an industry like voice over, the first booking, and each and every booking after that, is to be celebrated. As a business owner, building client relationships is essential to building a sustainable business, and relationships don’t happen from one email or from one phone call. It takes time, hard work, and perseverance. Sometimes there are setbacks. Sometimes mistakes are made on either side.  But just because it is hard to reach your goals, reach for the stars and don’t be discouraged! According to both Fresh Books and the Houston Chronicle,  “In conventional terms it can take two to three years, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re doing poorly.”  If you have a dream and a goal, don’t give up. If I had gotten discouraged easily, my voiceover business would never have been possible.

Don’t Get Bogged Down By What Others Think About What You Are Doing

When you have a job, everyone will have an opinion about it. Your friends will. Industry friends will. Random neighbors on the street will. Frankly the only voice that matters is your inner voice, the feeling in your gut. You have to decide whose guidance you value and filter out the rest. Once you start letting these voices in, they don’t stop. You have to have an inner compass that is stronger than all of these people who think they know what is right for you. It is almost mind-blowing how many people have opinions on subjects they know nothing about. Decide what is right for you and go for it. I spent a really long time deciding what I wanted to do before I decided to pursue voiceover. Some people thought it was great and were encouraging. Others’ comments ranged from skeptical to cruel. I had to turn a deaf ear to all of it and follow my gut. It felt right and I went for it. It was actually not that complicated. I had a well-researched plan and I was ready. If you are well-educated I know you will make good choices.

No Human Will Ever Love You Like Your Dog Does

And that’s ok, the dog will fill that void. The love that we have gotten from Barclay and Violet has been a great joy, and working in my studio with Violet by my side is a true gift every single day. Dogs are a blessing in this world. When humans have let me down, the dogs have always made everything better. There has never been a time in my adult life when the dog has not been there. You can trust them emotionally completely. Conversely, I would not trust a human who does not want a dog by his or her side. There must be something lacking in their soul.

 

 

Don’t Settle

If you work hard you can have everything you want and need in this world. Dreams do come true, and as a mom I know that to be true! Everything else that has happened in my life aside from the birth of my children is gravy, but knowing the small miracle that they both exist, I was blessed to be Barclay’s mom and that we have our precious Violet, if that can all happen then the jobs and the client relationships, all of that are possible.

Hey… What’s the Best….

Last night we were out to dinner with my folks and my husband’s folks. We were at one of our favorite places, Dough, in Caldwell, NJ and it was particularly fun because we were at a big, square table. The kids were asking my dad stories about law school, and it doesn’t take much to get him going. But this is not uncommon, a lot of times people ask my dad about his “craziest case.” Or we’ll be out with a friend who’s a doctor and we’ll ask them about their wild cases and boy, without violating HIPAA, can they tell some unreal stories. So I never feel put on the spot when people ask me about my craziest job or my best recent casting. But in case you’re curious, here are some, and these are not in order of favorites, just how they came to mind:

WWII Foundation Narration

I was so excited when this project came in. I was actually sitting at the Encore hotel and Casino in Las Vegas where I was staying right before WoVo Con 19 started when Brian, the producer called me. Both of my grandfathers served in the Pacific Campaign in World War II. I went to graduate school for History. My son is at present obsessed with World War II History. So, what could be more fun than voicing a project that would help draw high school students in and educate them about such an important period in time? The script was so well-written and Brian was so easy to work with, which always makes projects better! Being cast in this meant so much to me on so many levels.

Climate Change Narration for PBS and Chrysler Museum

PBS WHROI always hate to overtly give away my age, but when I was a kid we did not have cable tv, we had the networks, PBS, and maybe two other channels. So, when they animation project came in for PBS, a channel I grew up glued to, as did my kids, my heart went all-aflutter! I think I was so enthusiastic both because it was PBS and because it addressed climate change, something I am so profoundly concerned about. It means a lot to me to have an opportunity to voice projects with an impact. I have also always loved taking my kids to museums too, so when I learned that this was tied in to the Chrysler Museum it was even better. In this animation, I used a kids voice. Like the WWII project, my goal was to draw kids in and keep them interested. As a working mom and a former educator, I feel like I bring all of this with my into the booth for these projects.  When I have an opportunity like this, I am left feeling instilled with hope that change will come.

UK Tampax Spot

As an American who grew up in a Philly suburb and resides in a New York suburb, I was cast by a London ad agency in a UK tampax spot for their UK tampax channel? How, you may ask? Well, my nephews have grown up in a posh sloan square neighborhood so I just had their little voices in my head when I auditioned and I guess that booked it! I cannot do a range of UK accents, I can specifically do central London as that is what I hear in my head. I can sometimes do slight cochney, but that’s it. Anyway, for this project we had a live session with a European creative team. It was not 10 minutes and done. I remember it going about 40 minutes, which is long for me. But the spot is cute and I am pleased with it. And since we all get out monthly visitor, we not have something that is relevant for girls and women, right? This was a fun one for sure!

 

IMRC Commercials

Well, who doesn’t love a good tv campaign? And when the hospital that you are voicing the campaign for is bought out by Cleveland Clinic, it gets even better! And when your Aunt and Uncle have a home in the viewing area? It feels like a home run! In truth, anytime I have an opportunity to work with clients on a repeat nature I am delighted, but I love doing campaigns because I enjoy the continuity. It is nice to have the project to look forward to, and I am always so sad when they end. I loved these spots and hope there are more down the line. I think these resonated with me so much because the real life stories they used were just so touching. Also, even though the hospital is based in Florida, the Alan, the producer, is a Jersey guy, and that just makes everything better.

Cosmo Prof Training

I may have been born in Philly, but I’ve been here 15 years and I’d say that’s long enough to call myself a Jersey girl- gel nails and supah blond hair and all! So, when an eLearning came my way that was all about training for hair products, let’s just say I didn’t have to act to sound upbeat and enthusiastic! I was so so excited to do this module for CosmoProf and Sally Beaty. From brushes to straighteners to curling irons, it’s like they had me in mind when they wrote the content!

How Have 5 Years Gone By?

In the blink of an eye, it is the end of 2019 and time to set goals for 2020. But this year also marks my fifth year pursuing voice over full time. The foam in my booth has literally turned from bright white to a funky yellow! Five years ago so many things were unknown: how would I juggle being a working mom, how would I find VO clients, how would I run a business as a solopreneur? Now all of those things are still part of my daily life, but I am confidently figuring it out. There is a good rhythm to my voiceover practice. So looking ahead to 2020, I am optimistic that I am on the verge of more good things. and I have always believed that if I don’t say it aloud, or in writing, then the universe doesn’t hear it… so, here are my goals for 2020:

More Radio Imaging

I have worked hard, every single day for the past few years, to grow this side of my business. I hope that in 2020 I can add more CHR and Adult Hits stations to my roster. I continue to reach out to station managers and program directors. I love doing liners, sweepers, and station promos. I am no longer with my manager and my hope is that stations are happier to make arrangements with me directly.

More Commercial Campaigns, Fewer One-Offs

My hope is that in 2020 I book more commercial campaigns and fewer on-offs. Like the work that I did for Anytime Fitness, I hope to book more of this. I love helping a brand emerge and I love being associated with certain brands. I also love working with ad teams continuously and building the rapport that comes with it.

Grow My Repeat Client Base

I lot of my business, about 60%, comes direct from clients. Most of that is from clients that come back over and over again. This year I hope to add five or six more solid clients to my repeat client roster, folks I can work with over and over again and count on for steady work.  Again, like my campaign work, this will enable me to really get to know them. This will also help my continue to build on my sustainable, consistent family income.

More eLearning

I love doing eLearning work. I have some steady clients that I do work with almost every week. This year my hope is to have a few more clients that I do work with regularly. I enjoy all aspects of this work, whether I am playing a character in a training module or a traditional narrator. I love working with the instructional designers to bring these roles to life and make them authentic.

Political Spots

My hope for 2020 is that I can help bring about some much needed change by voicing many blue political spots. I have so many hopes and prayers for our country, and the world, and it is my hope that if a some more liberal folks are elected we will be in a better place next year. I was a political science major in college and I have very strong feelings about what is going on at present. To literally be the voice of change would mean a lot to me. I am very proud of the political demo that I did with Brandon Perry from Adrenaline Studios and I hope that I book a lot from it.

Speak at Conferences and Build relationships with Exhibitors

Since I got into voice over I have been fortunate to attend conferences, many conferences, including WoVo Con, VO Atlanta, VOCation, VO North, and more. I love them for so many reasons, and that is really a separate blog. I am at a point in my career where I want to start giving back to the voice over community that is so very important to me and sharing what I have learned. I have sat in on so many valuable sessions, and now I would be so excited to contribute.

I also love going to the expos at these conferences. I always post about my gear and everything that makes my studio great on my social media. Now I want to start building relationships with the folks who represent at these conferences. Since I represent brands for a living, I would like to build a bridge between the products I use to represent other brands and myself.

Wishing All the Best for 2020

I have noticed on social media that there is a tremendous generosity of spirit in the voiceover community now more than ever. From folks like Bev Standing, Mark Scott, J. Michael Collins, and Kim Handysides to name a few. I am thinking of my fellow voice talents this week and always. I share this joy in our community and am so proud to be a part of these great VO tribe. I wish everyone much success in 2020. I think back to what I learned from Anthony Gettig in the beginning of my career: The rising tide lifts all the ships in the harbor.

Time to Reflect

At the years’ end, it seems like an additional time to reflect. I’m not sure if it’s the food coma induced by all the latkes and egg-nog lattes, or it is just the natural cycle of things, but it is a great time to look back on the best parts of the year and see how far this career I have worked so hard to build has come. So here is my countdown of top 5 best voiceover moments from 2019:

5. WoVo Con In October

Time with industry friends goes by way too fast!!

Without a doubt, WoVo Con is always worth the trip to Las Vegas! What do I love about this conference? Well, the superior sessions, seeing my VO besties, and an opportunity to build important voice over relationships. Over the years I have gone to some amazing sessions. This year I loved Everett Oliver’s session and I loved Brad Newman’s session. I was so happy to have time with Shelley Avellino and to see others like Dana Hurley, Jodi Krangle, Anne Ganguzza, J. Michael Collins, and the list goes on and on. I also had a chance to meet and get to know potential clients! I even went to dinner one night with an eLearning company that added me to their roster, so I enjoyed my time there and made every moment count.

4.Trip to Toronto adjacent to VO North in September

I had an amazing time in Toronto this fall! I had initially planned to be there for VO North, but instead I was adjacent to the conference and spent time with some my VO besties Dearbhla Trainor, Kim Handysides, and Shelley Avellino. We stayed at Derv’s and helped her get ready for the

From the front left is Kim Handysides, Shelley Avellino, me, and Dearbhla Trainor at a NY style diner in Toronto! We had s much fun.

conference. We got to see about of the city and have time together. Kim and I went on an adventure to the middle of no where together to visit clients. That was interesting. We also saw her family and her home town! It was absolutely amazing to have time with these spectacular women and I loved every moment of being with my friends and being in such a great city! Next year I will definitely stay for the entire conference.

3. Trip to LA for WWRS in March 2019

In March, 2019 I went to Burbank, CA for the World Wide Radio Summit. This was the same week as VO Atlanta, so I had to choose between the two conferences. I have been working so hard to grow the radio imaging side of my business and to be there to here the best in the business speak on amazing panels was so inspirational. In 2019, there were not one but two imaging panels, of both voice talents and program directors. To hear folks like Issa Lopez and Ashley Cavalier was a dream come true. These women are role models for us all and they set the bar really high. Their work is incredible and they have achieved so much. I also met people from all over the world, wether they were from across the pond or across the country. To have entire networks like iHeart and Sirius represented was just amazing and the folks that I met were so nice. I have enjoyed keeping in touch with them.

2. Collections are Complete

As a small business owner, it is a pretty major accomplishment to be totally on top of my collections.  Just because I am able to mark this is a goal that I have met does not mean that this was an easy feat. It has taken diligence, patience, and commitment. Most clients are very kind and well-intentioned. Some of these kind clients pay right away. Some are just busy with work and life and forget to pay and need a friendly reminder. But you know what else I have learned as a business owner? Not everyone is nice. Some people do not want to pay even when they are happy. Why? Because they are not nice. So they make small business owners jump through a million hoops to chase them down for money in hopes that we would rather just disappear. This year my multi-pronged approach, wich combines friendly reminders from me with an attorneys letter at the 90 day mark was the right combination. I am thankful.

1. Amazing New Clients and Stayed on Pandora’s Roster

I am so thankful that my client roster this year and always. I am proud that when I work with a client I typically keep working

With an eLearning client at DevLearn last fall and visiting a client in Orlando last Spring:)

with a client. Some of the major brands I have had an opportunity to do voiceovers for in 2019 include Dove, Kyvno, CT Lottery, Michigan Lottery, Cleveland Clinic, Quest Diagnostics, Spoke, CosmoProf, Origins, and the list goes on and on. I am also thrilled that my work for both Pandora and Spotify continued. Pandora has extended another contract to me for 2020 and I am so very thankful for their trust in me year ofter year. This year, a lot of the work I did for them was repeat work because the clients specifically requested me. That means the world to me.

Say Cheese- Leaving the Booth for a New Opportunity

Over the years I have seen postings of other voice over actors including Tracy Lindley, Jas Patrick, Kim Handysides, Sofia Cruz and many others going to on-camera gigs and I was intrigued. I LOVE doing voice over and being behind the microphone, but as a working creative I could understand how there are a lot of over-lapping skills and I always wanted to give it a try. I had been offered a life-style modeling contract years ago, but it would have taken me out of the booth too much, and as a working mom my entire business was built around wanting to be here for my family. But, the occasional on-camera gig seems like the right fit now.

When my Denver based agent Leenda Nicole, of CatheXis,  and I started talking about both on-camera opportunities and modeling opportunities that suit my career now, everything fell into place. This week I got to film my first on-camera spot, an agency promo for CatheXis, and it was great!

Rounding Up

You know how this time of year when you go to pay for something at a store and they ask you if you want to round up to support a charity? That’s what it’s like to work with Leenda, she rounds up: she asks for the best of people, her talents and clients alike, at precisely the right moment, and brings out the best in everyone.  Any CatheXis talent will tell you that having Leenda as your agent is wonderful. I am fortunate that as a full-time professional I have regional representation around the United States and abroad, but CatheXis is different for several reasons. First, whether you are a voiceover actor, model, singer, or dancer, Leenda represents talent that she believes in. We all feel this way. She then creates a network where talent mentors other talent and we are all involved in the community. Volunteer work is a fundamental value of the agency. It is in this wonderful environment that my first on-camera opportunity came about.

All in the Family- Working with my Cousin and his Team

Leenda wanted to be able to pitch me as a team, not just as an on-camera actor, but also for my copy writing too. When Leenda asked about a talented video production crew that I work with, I was thrilled to recommend my cousin, Dave Scott of All Systems Go AV, in Bensalem, PA. Dave, or David, as the family calls him, and I grew up together in Philly and we have always been really close. My

Here I am with the creative team! On top I’m with Chris, Adam, and my cousin David. On the bottom left it’s me and David in front of the green screen. On the bottom right it’s me and David when I was in college and he was about 8. I won’t say how long ago that was!

sister and I fuss over him as we didn’t have a little brother. When I told Leenda about David, I said that while he may be my cousin, his work is outstanding and he has an extensive background with years of training and experience. He was even the sound guy for the Pope last year!  David does audio for tons of live events, including working with Steve Martin and Martin Short, and their video production, a new endeavor relative to the live event work, has produced impressive results. So, when Leenda cast us on the project together, nothing was more exciting for me! Working with my “little” cousin and his team was a dream come true in every way.

David works with two other guys in their huge facility, Chris and Adam. They are all pros and have all been at it for a long time. On the day of the shoot, I went down to their location to film since they have a green screen, teleprompter, and everything else needed to record and edit. It was also a great reason to check our David’s set up and see his team in action. These three were fantastic to work with. They are delightful, give clear directions, and are professional without being too intense.

Impressions of Being on Camera

Being on camera was a lot of fun! For me, since I have been full-time in voiceover for many years, I spent a lot of time working on my lines before the day of the filming. I thought about pacing and word emphasis a lot in advance so that when we did multiple takes, if I did not have play back like I do in my booth, which did turn out to be the case, I would be alright. I also did not want to look like I was reading, and since I’m new to the teleprompter I was concerned about that.

Chris marked where I had to stand so that I would stay in my spot in the light and in front of the camera. I tend to fidget, so I had to not fidget when I spoke, and I just tried to look cute and deliver my lines as if I were in my booth. Since I do a lot of live sessions for commercials anyway, I wasn’t nervous about that.  I wish that there had been more mirrors around so that I had a sense of how I actually looked. I know I have a good side and a bad side, but I have no idea what I actually gave them because there were not mirrors. Fingers crossed I gave them my good side.

All in all, it was a lot of fun leaving the booth and going to work in person with other creatives. It was an honor to be able to represent my agency as the spokesperson in this spot. It was a dream come true to work with David and his team. I hope that this is the first of many on camera bookings that I do!

My Wheels Are Turning….

Perhaps because I have been following The Budget Mom, and I have been spending a lot of time thinking about personal finances and where our money goes, it makes sense that in this time of reflection as a working mom I would also reassess what has worked well and been of value in by business and what I might have done or do differently. As a solopreneur, ever single dollar counts and at least in my perception has even more weight than it would in a large company, so for me my choices in my voiceover business matter a lot. I confess that I lay in bed at night thinking about them and praying that I have put myself on the right path so that I succeed for my children. I am passionate about my voice over work to be sure, but I also have a hunger to continue to build a thriving business and every choice matters.

The Demos

The very first choice most talents make is who to work with for their demo and which demo to do. I am EXTREMELY thankful and proud that Anne Ganguzza and I did such an amazing commercial demo. It is the rock solid foundation that my business has grown upon. It was worth every single penny and I am very glad that I invested in that. I feel the same way about my narration demo that I did with Bill DeWees. I also have booked A LOT with my eLearning demo that I  did with J. Michael Collins. I am extremely proud of all of my demos, but I have brought in substantially more work from these 3 demos than all others combined.

I watch these adorable videos that my friend Heather Foster posts on Facebook called things I’d tell my younger self. Well, I was in a big hurry to do a lot of demos and for better or for worse they sure helped me build a full and diverse website. But, had I realized where my bookings would fall, perhaps I could have saved myself some money early on and not rushed to do so many demos. It is hard to commit to that statement, because I have done quite a lot of telephony and IVR, and gotten some great clients like Whole Foods, from that demo (also produced by J. Michael Collins) but the majority of my bookings continue to be commercials.

Equipment Purchases

I am very happy with my studio. I am very thankful to have high end equipment in a well-treated booth.  I built my studio early in my career and made upgrades as I got big, steady contracts for consistent work. This made sense at the time and it still makes sense. I had lots of industry people make digs about spending money and I had to filter them out. In fact, I probably should have invested in my expensive microphone, my Neumann TLM 103, when I started, instead of spending $500 on a mid-range mic only to upgrade within a few years. I intended to succeed and I did, and my studio, which is acoustically treated to perfection and also has an amazing pre-amp, is a huge piece of the puzzle. I am very happy about these purchases and filtering out the nay-sayers was a good move on my part. If you want to succeed in voice over, that is often a piece of the puzzle.

My Website

Home-NEW

I am VERY pleased with my website and my website team, but I have made some mis-steps- not with them, on my own. In the beginning, I worked with the brilliant Anne Ganguzza to do my branding. She was fabulous and I am pleased with all she helped create. When Joe Davis and Karin Barth at Voiceactor Websites came into the picture, we made some great upgrades. I am happy with everything I have done with them and pleased with all I have invested.

At some point a few years ago I decided to create a separate entity for government bidding. I created a separate webpage for this. I regret spending the money on this page and not just adding another page to my current site.  I took a lot of advise from a government contracting mentor outside of voiceover, and his did not understand the voice over industry well enough. It is not in my best interest having two separate pages. It is often frustrating. I spent a lot of money and time on this and regret these choices.

I also made another mis-step with my main website. When I initially built my page, I first made it a scrolling page instead of a multipage site. Then when I wanted to add pages, I asked a random person to do it. It was a mess. I had to go back to Joe and Karin and ask them to fix everything. I felt terrible to have sidestepped them, which was years ago, and had to do a major website upgrade. It worked out in the end but I wish I had invested in a more elaborate website from the start. I had no idea how much work I would do.

Final Analysis

Don’t be short sited. Make choices that make your life easier. Work with kind people who are helpful. You can always spend money later, but if you are booking from something, you don’t need something else. Just keep doing what you are doing!

The possibilities are limited only by our imagination and determination, and not by physics.” ~ Mike Duke, PhD, NASA Geologist

THE question:

As a full-time, professional voice over actor, I get a lot of questions; but, the one I seem to get the most, is “So, how many hours would you say you work now?” Somehow saying that it’s a full time job has net been a clue. So, what I gather is that folks can’t imagine is how the work of a creative can fill an entire day, or perhaps weeks and years on end. Given the opportunity, I will happily, and enthusiastically elaborate and tell you what days are like for a working voiceover talent.

The Home Studio

Like most voice over actors, I have a professional home studio. This gives me the ability to accommodate clients in different time zones, not just in the Unites States, but abroad as well. I love getting started early, because I feel like I have gotten a lot done in a day. In truth a lot of my steady clients are on the West Coast, so I often go back down to record jobs that come in late after dinner as well.

Daily Tasks

The amount of booked work I have shapes my day. I typically record all booked work before doing anything else. If a big audition comes in, I will pause a job and record and submit that. While I record, I hydrate continually. I drink water all day long. I limit myself to one coffee a day. Once I am done recording actually bookings, my day is divided between auditions, client outreach emails, LinkIn follow ups, and general marketing tasks. I do try to do 20-40 auditions a day, and they come in from clients, Pay to Plays, and agents around the country. If a booking comes in mid-day, I stop what I am doing and record. For bigger jobs I typically have advance notice. For example, I did 20 videos on Thursday, but I new about them about 2 weeks in advance so that I could book out the day on my calendar. I do I lot of commercials and have a lot of RUSH work as well. I am always happy to do rush jobs. I understand when folks have deadlines, and I never mind getting audio right back to clients. Often when more booked work comes in, time on LinkedIn or for marketing takes a back seat. I tend to keep up with my client correspondence as that is very important to me!

Mom Life

It seems the more I get into a rhythm with my business, the less I feel in control of life at home. When my twins were small, they had all of my focus and attention. I was with them full time and I could spend all of my energy thinking about meals and school and their clothing. Now I worry a lot about their school work since they are in high school. But, our house is not as organized as it was. Our dinners are not planned. I often scramble to make lunches before taking them to the train in the morning. I am so so so thankful that the groceries can be delivered or I am not sure we would ever have any. 

Another issue is that because I am a small business owner, even when I am driving my kids to sports or taking them to the doctor, I am still thinking about my work and checking for client emails. I can’t ever completely detach because there is no one else to man the fort. Since I am the business, if I disconnect, it ends. I find it challenging to find the right balance between savoring this precious time with my children, which goes entirely too fast, and catching the momentum of my business which I have worked so hard to build.

I do remind myself that my kids are learning from see me running a business at home. They see me working not just at nights but on weekends. They hear client calls. They get to hear and see my actual work. This all cushions the blow. So the house may not be perfectly tidy when the family comes for a visit. And we may have to get takeout more than we had planned. And I may often forget to go back out and put the cover on the grill. 

My hope is that while friends that we meet for dinner may have natural questions about what it’s like to be a full-time working creative, my kids, the people who matter most to me in this world, will not have any questions because they see everything. I also try to talk to them about all of the issues that I grapple with and pose thought provoking questions.

So, I can tell you with certainty that a working voice talent has plenty to keep them busy! Odds are their more than 40 hour work week blows by and they have a hard time figuring out where the time has gone!

Where Am I Going With This….

Even though I work full time, as a mom of teenage twins, I am in the car A LOT. My SUV has a great sound system, and I confess I enjoy belting it out. The other night I had a realization though: unless my four year old niece is in the car, I am typically belting it out alone. And it is not that I am not playing great music, because I can assure you that it is always a party when I drive. I think it has more to do with the personalities of my husband and kids.

I asked  my son Jack why he didn’t want to belt it out? Perhaps the music should be even louder? His response: it’s just not him. He, and they, are just not wired up that way. In contrast, I can’t keep it in. I dance. I rap. I pour my heart and soul into it. ACDC. Snoop Dogg. Gladys Knight. Jonas Brothers. It doesn’t matter, I’m into it! So what on earth does this have to do with voiceovers? Well, people often ask me how I got into voice over or how I started booking work. It’s a tricky question. There are a lot of talented people who do what I do. There are also a lot of people who have had access to the training that I have had. They may even have the demos that I have. So, what sets us apart? Our schtick. Our unique personality and spark. The ability to put my dignity, airs, “whatever” in the metaphorical back seat and whoop it up for the clients, is essentially what I have been practicing for years. One of my beloved coaches, Fred Frees, used to tell me if I was going to “make it” I had to be fearless in front of the microphone. This singing in the car is exactly the same thing. When you have the reckless abandon to belt it out in front of everyone, odds are you will also be fearless in front of the mic.

Are there personality traits of Voice Over Actors?

So here’s an interesting question that I get. Just like in every field, all types come to voice over. I do find that the industry friends that I have are kind, supportive, and an overall super friendly bunch. We all have to wear our emotions on our sleeve, because if you can’t hear them, no one will hire us! So, I do find that in voice over people are typically willing to share, and that openness makes everything better.

Do We Actually Sing In Our Work?

Yes!  I have had to sing for Indie Video Games, Toys, and Commercial Jingles. I have also sung for mobile apps with Nursery rhymes.  Some people who have had a lot of musical training have singing demos. I do not, folks just ask me to do it and I send them my best. A lot of the voice over talents that work in animation sing a lot. As that has never been my bread and butter, I do not do that.

What If We Don’t Sing or Sing Terribly?

Don’t worry! Our job is not musicians. There was a spec on a job I was sent last week that specifically said that they wanted someone who was not perfectly on tune so that it sounded natural and not overly polished. I think a more commonly sought after skill is the ability to sing in character, which has a lot more to do with staying in character, and less to do with hitting each note perfectly. That being said, when I have sung for toy demos, I have to do scales and have to hit each note in the middle and it takes a lot of work and concentration for someone who did not grew up singing!

My Thoughts

I did not go into voiceover because I wanted to sing. To the contrary, the jobs that involve that component are typically my hardest.  The point of this is that the silly abandon that we have when playfully, often gleefully belting it out in the car whether we are alone or have an audience of 3, that is what we need to bring with us into the booth for every job. The ability to switch gears as quickly as a song changes on the radio is priceless. The ability to reinvent ourselves every two minutes is also priceless. All the professional training in the world cannot change the feeling that you have in your gut. I have been told by another coach that I “dive in” rather fast. I believe that, too, is one of my greatest assets! Whether it is a new station I am imaging for and each take on a line needs to be fresh, or a 15 second holiday spot, or an eLearning module, be the talent who is willing to shake things up and delight your client at every turn!

A Rare Glimpse

On Friday morning I went to Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey to pick my almost 16 year old daughter Emma up from her two week program in video game design. As a mom, I was so proud of her to have done this program and

Emma and her roommate in their classroom on presentation day!

spent time in the summer exploring an interest and working hard. As a full-time, professional voice over actor, I was even more delighted that she chose to pursue a course of study that could ultimately give us an opportunity to work together. In total honesty, I was completely elated and hoping that she loved every minute and found her calling.

But back to the point of the blog, my inside scoop into the video game world. So the professor that Emma had for her weeks at Stevens was Professor O’Brien, a brilliant creative whose personal focus is gaming with a social message to create change. I did not anticipate that he would be speaking, but this dynamic man spent a lot of the morning not just explaining what our kids had been doing, but sharing what a course of study in video game design might look like and what their career path after completing said course of study might look like. I was excited and enthralled.

The Team

I learned that like real world game design, Emma participated in a team during her program. They each assumed a role, as in

Emma and her game design team

actual video game design. There are coders, programmers, floaters, narraters, artists/creators, team leaders, and this was just in the student lab setting. All members of the team were essential to building and creating the game. Even though Stevens is an engineering school and the kids there take the same classes as the computer science students in the Engineering college, the professor explained that in gaming the team needs both the essential computer skills and the creative and artistic skills and has to comfortably float between these worlds. I was particularly pleased that my child had this experience, because as a small business owner, I have to do this every single day. I have to pour all of my creative energy into my voiceover projects, and then put on my business cap and do invoicing and market myself. Here is my child, a rising sophomore in high school, already learning to think this way.

Roles in Their Organization

From listening to Professor O’Brien speak, I learned about the various roles in a gaming company as well. While I have had a few roles on Indie video games, and there are typically several people in on the live sessions, I have never thought too much about the different opportunities available in the company. Apparently, after graduating from a university with a BA and a BS with a concentration in Video Game Design, these kids are prepared to be any part of the team, including project managers, creative directors, programmers, coders, writers, artists, floaters… the list goes on and on. It is clear that they need team players who understand both the technical and artistic components of the game creation.

Places to meet Gamers

I was fascinated by this part of that Professor O’Brien mentioned. As someone who spends so much time marketing and reaching out to new and potential clients, I was fascinated to learn that folks in video game design like twitter.  Here are other useful resources I learned about:

What Surprised Me?

As a voice over actor, I was first surprised that none of these games have a voiceover component! The student projects did all have music, which my daughter told me was all free and public domain. When I asked the professor, he told me that even at the university level, the skill of casting voice talent adds a layer of challenge that they are not typically prepared for and that students don’t usually have voiceover in their projects. Next, I was surprised that so many gamers are on twitter. For years I tried to persistently market on twitter, posting about three times a day. I got no results from this. Perhaps I had the wrong target audience? Next, I was delighted to learn about the team aspect to the creation and about the team/community aspect to the testing and trial phase. I was delighted by this. Lastly, I was surprised by the technological rigors of the program. My daughter has an updated Mac that is several years old. Her rather expensive computer was insufficient to meet the needs of the high-tech software used for this course! She had to use a university provided loaner.

I am so thankful that my child had this opportunity! I am so thankful that I had the flexibility as a working creative to come and see hew finished project. I am one proud Mama!