Voiceover

Tru TV: Caught My Attention

On Saturday Morning I came into the kitchen and Harlan had this on the tv:

As a working mom, a full-time professional voice over actor, and a functioning human being, I was blown away. Like most of you, I never in my worst night mares thought I would have to talk about code yellows or drills with my kids where they practice being locked in closets by their teachers. So when those in charge of our policies choose not to create legislation that will protect those most precious to us, and instead publicly speak out again video games, I have a problem with that. Many in my industry will not ever speak of politics or publicly take a side, and I understand their valid concerns. In this moment, my hope is that whatever side of the political spectrum you are on, as artists and creatives we can stand together and say the gun control problem is out of hand. This is not on us as creatives fulfilling our life-ling dreams and providing for our families; instead, this is the government’s weak effort to punt and fail to come up with a reasonable solution to a problem that is growing disproportionately. And while I do not hide that I am liberal at present, I grew up in a conservative state and loved shooting rifles at camp, so I do not have a limited perspective. I will try, as both a mom and a working voice actor, and someone who enjoys and supports video games, to flesh this out a little more.

In the above TruTV clip, Adam and his team chronicles the history of violent games since before I was born! Adam mentions mortal combat. The funny thing is, I have really happy memories of this game. Long before my career in voiceovers, growing up in Philly, my friends and I used to hang out in an arcade and pool hall called Pete Fusco’s. I have no idea if it is still there. The boys in my peer group loved this game. I stood around and watched them play. How did I turn out? I’m super liberal, do not own a gun, and went to an ivy league school for college and graduate school. The countless hours I spent around the video games in no way corrupted me or anyone else in my social circle. My friends went on to become doctors, lawyers, and financial advisors. All of us are non-violent, and if we represent a microcosm of our generation, we were just normal kids, hanging out, playing games.

Jack and WWII

As a parent, my husband and I never thought our son would play with guns. Even though I enjoyed the sport of shooting them, the world has changed and I wanted something different for my own children. Well I will say there was a lot that I did not anticipate.

First, I did not anticipate that my son would love military History, especially that of World War II. Since he was quite young, he made set ups all over our playroom with army miniatures. Where the guns and weapons? Yes. Did he pretend they were firing and shooting? Yes. How else can you re-enact D-Day?  Is Jack a violent person who has or wants a real gun now? No.

Next, he loves video games. He has a PS4 and he lays on the sofa under cozy blankets. He LOVES to play “Call of Duty.” There is a lot of shooting. When I am in my studio he has to put it on mute. But, the flip side is that as a mom who works from home, if he is playing games, he is about four feet from me while I work, and frankly I love that. So yes, he is playing a violent game, but he is right near me and he is relaxed and de-funking from his very over-scheduled life, so it is really quite pleasant. If you had asked me when he was a toddler if I would want him to play such a game I’m sure I would have been horrified, but in truth at almost 17 I don’t mind. And again, is Jack violent? No.

President Trump’s Remarks

Instead of leading our country towards legislative initiatives that would end gun violence, and speaking out against the sale of automatic and semi automatic weapons, President Trump made these remarks: “We must stop the glorification of violence in our society. This includes the gruesome and grisly video games that are now common place. It is too easy today for troubled youth to surround themselves with a culture that celebrates violence.”

This speech was made after the tragic shooting in El Paso. As a mother and a working creative, I strongly feel that this as a vast over-simplification of the present scenario. In lieu of taking responsibility for a failure to regulate guns, it is easier to blame the work of creatives.  Are the games violent? Yes. Do they portray women in ways that I do not like? Yes. If we put the video games aside, I feel that politicians, the President included, are making a huge leap when they skip over all of the legislative and educational opportunities and focus on video games.  It is an absurd travesty.

Let’s look at some hard facts to better understand what is going on:

  • According to game shift, there are 1181019 video games.
  • The top 50 selling games contain violence according to videogames.procon.com
  • According to the Pew Center, violent crime rates are  falling
  • Even though over-all crime is down, mass shootings increase in last 20 years

US Mass Shootings, 1982-2019: Data From Mother Jones’ Investigation

Conclusions:

As the amount of video games increase exponentially, and the industry as a whole booms, the overall crime rates has plummeted. In the United States, we have a specific problem with mass shootings that has gotten markedly worse.

I am proud to thrive in a creative industry, and I celebrate every single booking. The amazing talents who act in our video games are doing an incredible job. To place the blame of this huge problem on the creatives who work in the gaming industry is lunacy.

Let’s take this a step further. When I think about this as a mom in the entertainment industry and I consider who hard I work to help support my family and set a good example for my kids, it would be like saying that for every role I voice I am limiting what other women, including my daughter, can be instead of raising their potential.  If I voice a mermaid, am I telling my daughter this is the height of what she can be or am I fulfilling my creative ambitions as a working artist? I believe it is the latter and I am extremely proud of the roles I have booked. I very much resent the President’s

over-simplifications so he doesn’t have to deal with the real issues that are extremely dangerous for all of us today.

Real Age Vs. Vocal Age

Ok, so I am at the point in my life when I cringe when I have to reveal on print, or anywhere else for that matter, my real age. I feel as energetic as I did years ago, and in my mind I do not age those around me. But to help you place my age, I am old enough to have twins turning 17 this summer. Soooo… I am fortunate to sound younger than I am since millennial voices are highly sought after at the moment. My vocal age, then, differs greatly from my real age. How does this effect me? Greatly! I am sent, audition for, and book work that is NOT based on my real age but is booked on my vocal range.

Here are some examples, an adult voice:

A kid voice:

Auditioning

I pay close attention to the desired vocal range when auditioning. My sweet spot tents to be the 17-22 or 18-35 category. When they ask for the conversational, millennial read little fire works go off in my head as that is my sweet spot. When they want the girl-next-door who sounds like she is on the couch talking to her best friend, that is me. When they want someone with gravitas and rasp, that is not me.  Why does it matter that you know how you sound? Why waste the listeners time? And when you only have precious time to audition and submit, why not maximize your own time submitting for what you are most likely to book.  Although I can do a character granny voice, if there is a commercial casing wanting a senior female I would never submit. They are not looking for me and there are talented folks in the senior vocal range with a more mature voice who will offer the sound they want in those spots. In those moments I simply move on to the next read.

Demos

Your demos need to show your range within your age range. Your demos also need to be tagged in a user friendly way, especially on pay to plays, so that clients can find what they need. If you sound young, and your demo is comprised of demo spots, then make sure that you actually have spots that would hire someone in your vocal range. No one wants my voice selling adult diapers, hemorrhoid cream, or talking about retirement communities, right? There is a reason I do fitness campaigns and brands like Kind Bar and Dove. I sound young and upbeat, and I market myself directly for brands that want this kind of fun, sassy, playful sound. A funeral home is probably not looking for my happy, bright voice. Although, interestingly I did do a narration for a women’s shelter who wanted someone who sounded happy and reassuring.

Bookings

This blog actually came to mind because last week I booked a character job where I played both a mom and a kid in the same job. How? Well with training and years of practice I do a lot of work in kids practice. And the bottom of my voice, and yes I have a bottom, is my mom voice. So if you understand how to use your voice, you can offer this  kind of versatility to your clients. I have had this opportunity, as have many of my industry friends, where we are cast in multiple roles in the same job. It can happen in eLearning, commercials, video games, cartoons…And it is about understanding how to use your voice. It is also about understanding the role you are playing, the nuances of the role, and how the characters relate to each other.

Your vocal age is often not your chronological age. I do a lot of work for Pandora, and typically the range they send me is 17-22.  That is my natural range. When I work out of that range, I have to understand specifically what the client is looking for, and I have to be able to match it for pickups and revisions. It is much easier for me to sound older late in the day. When I book work, I typically note on the script and in my notes in my CRM when I recorded the job, so if there are changes later I am best able to accommodate the vocal age.

Conclusions

You need to understand your voice. You need  to understand how others perceive your voice. Without a strong vocal awareness you will be limited in what you book and what you can provide your clients. In character work you have a chance to shine and to play and to test your limits. While we are acting, to be sure, some genres lend themselves more to being creative and submitting outside the box. Be aware for the sake of your time and of others.’

If My Job is to Voice Other Brands, Why Does my Brand Matter?

As a voice over artist, I have the privilege of voicing projects for the brands we know, love, and use in our daily lives! While every single job is exciting, when a brand name that my family uses all the time, like Dove or Gap or Kind Bar, books me I am ecstatic because those brand names have such huge brand recognition. Why, then, does it matter if I, as a voiceover actor, have a brand associated with my name? What I learned as soon as I began my VO journey years ago is that I am not just voicing projects for these brands. Instead, I myself am also a small business owner and need to create and maintain a brand that my clients can identify with and connect to in order to understand the service that I provide. Branding is essential to success in voiceover.

When Did My Own Branding Journey Begin?

My very first coach in voice over was the amazing Anne Ganguzza. When we started working together years ago  on my commercial demo, I immediately had lots of questions about her website. Anne explained to me that we could have separate sessions to work on my branding as we got closer to my recording date. We scheduled everything so that my website would be ready to launch when I had my demo.  Even though I was new to the industry, Anne’s website stood out to me because there was a grandiose impression to it that others simply lacked. I had considered doing my commercial demos with other coaches. Frankly, Anne’s website and the brilliance of Anne’s virtual store front was so impressive and resonated with me so much so that I just had to work with her. Over the years I have continued to follow Anne on all fronts and I continue to learn from her. Her marketing is seamless. Everything ties together. She is  sets the bar high for us all.

So what was our approach? Well to really understand it you would have to work with Anne, but we did have a session where there was a lot of question and answer. To be clear, I think that Anne is able to help with branding so well because she works so hard to get to know her students on multiple levels. Anne then worked with creative genius Sarah Waters. They came up with the concept that is on my website and all of my marketing content today. It represents my personality, my hope, my dreams, and my vision for my small business. My branding concept was the result of a collaborative effort of a lot of creative people.

Your Website as Your Store Front

Now let’s enter the folks at https://www.voiceactorwebsites.com/, Joe Davis and Karin Barth, absolute geniuses!! At some point years ago Sara stepped away and Joe took over. Joe is so amazing and the transition was so seamless that I actually had no idea it happened.  I have been working with Joe for so long that he has become a close and cherished friend. I value his advice and feedback as there is frankly no one who understands a voice actor’s SEO better than he does. I also work closely with Karin to make constant changes and updates and she has been a true blessing. She is wonderful. At some point, I think around 2018, I upgraded my website between the initial scrolling page that I had done with Anne and Sarah to the mega multi-page format that is alive today. This was a huge undertaking and a tremendous investment in my brand.

In voiceover, your website is your store front. If a client can’t find you, they can’t hire you. If they come to your store front and they don’t like what they see, or they can’t find what they need quickly and easily, you will lose the sale. Like all brands, you only have one chance to make a first impression. If you are in voice over, your demos should be obvious and easy to find, as well as your contact information. Everything else is gravy. How you dress it up is your branding. My web page is super pink and super bubbly. Just like me.  Perhaps looking at some samples of other successful solopreneurs to find common trends makes sense, as there is certainly a pattern here:

Cast Study:

Let’s look at some women who are thriving in voiceover today and setting the bar high. I am throwing myself into the mix because I work really hard every single day on my brand and I try to follow the rule and trends that I observe. Here is a chart that I have created and from these examples there is a lot that we can extrapolate:

What Can We Learn From these Samples?

  1. All of these websites have a real brand that is obvious as soon as you open the page. The branding set the tone or vibe about the voice over actor and is maintained through out the fresh content.
  2. All of these women solopreneurs are active on at least one form of social media, and most are on multiple forms of social media. They consistently carry out the branding from their website in their posts.
  3. Many of these women either have their own podcast or are regular guests on others’ podcasts.
  4. These women are often teaching voice over or giving workshops either on their craft, marketing, branding, or something related to some aspect of their business.
  5. These women all have a logo or theme from there website that is unique to their brand and has become recognizable in the industry from their postings.

The Comments…

A beautiful spot in the middle of Barnard's campus that I loved so much.As a full-time voice over actor, I have the joy of working as a creative all day every day in an industry that I love. You have no idea how many times people have said to me, in my family and in passing, “It’s a shame you aren’t using your degrees.” This always leaves me scratching my head. I am so appreciative that I had the opportunity to go to attend Barnard College, the undergraduate women’s college at Columbia University if you don’t know it, and to go to graduate school at Columbia University. As a small business owner I use all that I learned in my years at Columbia throughout the day every single day. When something becomes part of the fiber of your soul, part of your identity, and shapes the way you approach all that you do, it’s sort of hard to think of how you could exist without it. But still, because this has come up A LOT, let me try to flesh this out a little more specifically.

Writing the Business Plan and Analyzing the Data

Here I am in my suite over Ollie’s on 116th street my junior year. The one thing not part of the Barnard curriculum was how to keep a clean room!

From the moment I thought I decided to pursue voice over, the research skills that I crafted at Barnard were used. Before I began actually working in voice over, and well before I began working with coaches and studying the craft of voice over, I spent months researching other industry talents. I was listening to demos and making spreadsheets. I was curious who was booking what. I listened to see where others with voices like mine were booking work-wise. I tracked where certain demos lead certain talents. I had spreadsheet upon spread sheet. This was research that I generated for what I needed to know to ensure that this was a business that would make sense for my family. Where did I learn this creative approach to research? Barnard. Where did I learn how to analyze data? Barnard. And where did I learn how to use the data that I collected in Excel to make a compelling argument in one way or another? You guessed it, Barnard.

But just gathering and analyzing data was only the beginning. I was setting out not to just be a voice over actor, but to be a solopreneur. In order run my own business I needed a working business plan. I remember thinking all those years ago that the business plan would be fluid and would change, but that I needed it to guide the choices I made early on and to make projections about my income. I used a strategy that I learned in graduate school called “Planning Backwards.” Anyone who has ever taught is probably very familiar with this, but I set short term and long term goals for myself and then I wrote a business plan around them. Again, everything that I did in terms of my business was all based on the way I was trained to do in my years at Columbia.

Researching Brands

I loved meeting friends at the steps in between classes. I had so much fun setting here and socializing. This was quite a hot spot!

Brand research is necessary when auditioning, when booking work, and when determining which companies to reach out to when direct marketing. When auditioning, it is important to understand the brand that I am reading for. I research their current add campaigns and try to understand the overall gestalt of what they are trying to put out. If whatever I have been sent is a departure from previous work, I try to figure out how that fits in too. When I book work, again, I strive to understand where it fits into the big picture of the brand. I immediately go to the brand’s website and social media pages. When I direct market to companies, I spend a lot of time getting to know a brand so that I can individualize my outreach. Again, all of this thorough research and these strong investigative skills come from my years at Columbia.

 

Understanding the Jargon

I loved my time in the Theta Psi chapter of Alpha Chi Omega. The women in our sorority were campus leaders. My AXO sisters are brilliant and incredible and I am lucky to call them sisters, including my actual sister Julie! Here we are at the Revlon Run Walk for Women in Times Square in 1999.

In addition to my commercial work, I do a lot of eLearning. There is a lot of complicated jargon in these training modules.Sometimes I feel like a kids back in school, because for me understanding the text is very important to my delivery. Because I read so much in school and spent so much time in academia, I am thrilled by this part of the job. In addition, I have also taken professional voiceover training to improve my read rate and this has helped with some of the complicated reading. The amazing Kim Handysides has created a curriculum for this, as I confess that in all my years at Columbia we did not do much reading aloud. In fact I can only recall one History seminar taught by the great, late Professor Yerushalmi where he had us read primary source documents aloud in class. Typically, we read on our own and analyzed together, so I find that on-going professional development is still essential in this area.

 

 

 

Running a Business

Here I am In Low Library for the Senior Awards ceremony in 1999 at at Commencement. On the top I’m with my sister Julie. In the bottom I’m with my husband Harlan (GS 96′). On the left I am with Professor Peter Juviler of blessed memory who was my thesis advisor. I am so grateful to have worked with him.

As a full-time working mom, I think credit my years at Barnard and Columbia with my ability to run my own business. In school we had a very challenging course load every semester, were involved in on-campus activities, and had off campus internships. I was juggling a lot of balls at a young age and I was not alone, I was surrounded by a campus of high-achievers and this was the norm. Those years of scheduling not just my classes, but carefully planning when I would write my papers, study for exams, work, volunteer, etc, well-prepared me for life as a working mom. I did not expect to sit on the steps eating burgers from the law school barbecues without a care in the world forever, I had a sense of urgency that I always had to be somewhere and that my time was limited. I feel that sense of urgency every day now and I am so thankful for the years I had inside the gates on 116th street. They are a part of who I am and I know that I am better for it.

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!

Living The Dream Means You have to Actually Let Yourself Live It

Yes, if cauliflower can be pizza, then even the dreams of a 40 year old suburban mom can come true! One day I’m out marketing at Whole Foods, the next day I am one of their voices! But when I started going after my voice over career with gusto it did not mean I was in any way less passionate about my life as a mother to Emma and Jack. Being a working mom often means spending a lot of time at the intersection of our personal and professional aspirations. For most, motherhood is not something we just fell into. Rather, like my voiceover career, I spent years dreaming of the children I am now proud to have. For some of us, myself included, conceiving these children was not easy, and not a day goes by that I don’t look at them as a miracle. I was also told countless times that if I was very lucky I might have one baby, and could never have twins. So I find myself looking at my twins, and cannot imagine a world without an Emma or a Jack in it.

That said, when I built my career as a voice over actor around my twins, I still intended then and intend just as much now to be present for my family while pursuing my work full-time. Is it a juggling act some days? Yes! I find inspiration in places I never knew I would look. I knew a girl growing up, now Dr. Jaime Zuckerman, and we went to school together through high school. I find myself always looking forward to Jaime’s instagram posts. In a time when people carefully craft these perfect scenario’s on social media, I find Jaime is keeping it real and I am so thankful for her content! She leaves me feeling inspired and I enjoy seeing what this working mom of three has to reveal. When I find working moms like this on line I see that I am not alone and we are all in this together!

The point is that if you build a career like voiceover so that you can be available to your family, it is then okay to choose to prioritize your family and schedule your bookings around what your kids need. It is possible to do both, but that will only happen if you actually schedule it that way. Here are some tips that I have found make this ride a little less bumpy:

Plan Ahead

This goes for both voice over and family. I maintain a huge calendar and as I do not exist separately neither does my calendar. At first I did have two calendars and suddenly we were missing things like the dentist! They were nice about it but I was horrified. So, I find one calendar helps. I do as much as I can in advance. Before writing this blog I planned all my dinners for the next week and did my grocery shopping for the week. After I post this blog I will prepare lunches through Wednesday.  I have set laundry days and set days to do social media posts. Planning ahead is not only provides comfort, it gives a sense of rhythm in what can otherwise be a chaotic daily schedule. Some clients will send work with a far off deadline, particularly in eLearning, but as I do mostly commercial work it is a rare luxury that I can schedule my work beyond a 12 hour window.

Delegate

I delegate as much as possible, both in my home life and in the studio. Here are areas I suggested delegating:

  • Chores-  Everyone in my house has responsibilities with the exception of Violet, the dog. She is just a mush who looks happy. From doing the dishes, to making the beds, cleaning bedrooms, holiday prep… the list goes on and on… but everyone helps. I feel very strongly that it is not my home, it is our home and my kids are quite capable. I appreciate very much all that they do, and I am happy to wait for them to help, but we all chip in.
  • Marketing- Since the twins were born, my husband has helped with grocery shopping. Now the kids love to do it too, so it often is a family affair, but it does not fall to me to do alone. We often market at off-peak hours like Saturday nights and can get in and out quickly.
  • Homework Help- My kids have learning differences. Both twins are dyslexic and need help with different aspects of their work. My husband and I do what we can, as we have different strengths, but we also welcome help from family members! My sister is amazing with Math. My mother-in-law handles Latin and Spanish. We have a tutor for Chemistry. This is a huge help as VO work from the West coast often comes in after dinner and I need to be able to go down to my booth a lot in the evening.
  • Editing-  Outsourcing voiceover work is important. As the voice, you can’t outsource that. Sometimes some clients have clauses in the contract that limit subcontractors. Often, though, you can higher an editor and it is a huge help.

Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself

It is not easy to work and to take care of your family. Ask yourself, did your expectations of how you parent or run your home change when you started your business? At first mine did not. I will confess that there are days I go down to the kitchen at 5:20 in the morning to get my kids ready, and I don’t go back upstairs until after 8:30 at night. The bed was never made. What can I do? I worked hard.  I did my best. I got a lot done. If I weren’t so busy, the bed might look like a display in a department store, but that is not my reality, and that is okay. As my role has changed, my expectations have changed. I think back to my old school friend Jaime and I just keep plugging.

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.

How do you get the ball rolling?

In the past few days I have had a few different buyers or clients reach out to me to inquire about my services. One called from a block number. Another sent me a message on LinkedIn asking me to email their client with my rates and samples. Another emailed through the contact form on my site. I can tell you that all get greeted with the same enthusiastic response and all, whether the job is $200 or $2000, are treated the same.

If you are hiring a voice over actor for your first time, the ease of booking them and the booking process in general gives you a glimpse into how easy this talent is to work with. I have a set process that I use every time that includes quick responses, quotes, turnarounds, pickup/and revision policies, and more. If a talent is difficult to track down for the initial booking, it should be a red flag.

So, this is what my process is like:

The initial contact:

I typically respond as soon as I here from a client. If I get a phone call I respond by phone. Often if I get an email I will even respond by phone. According to voice123, my average response time is 11 minutes, but I typically respond as soon as I see a client correspondance as I understand that you need your work quickly. I take notes on the call so that everything that you tell me about what you want happens in the audio you are delivered. I also need details about the job itself including the usage and run of the job. That will now be addressed below.

Quoting the Job:

Many important details go into quoting a voiceover booking. I typically offer several options to my clients and let them choose the option that best represents their needs, but this is what I need to give a client a quote for their job:

  • The Script: I simply must see the script to give a quote. What you think of as an explainer my actually be employee training or an industrial. We need to also confirm the word count. The script is essential.
  • the Usage_ I need the client to confirm with the team what the usage is. For example, is it internal or will it run on social media? If it runs on social media, will it be organic or paid placement? For how long?
  • How long is the run? They are typically from 6 weeks to a year. I generally quote jobs up to a year and add a calendar reminder at that point in case a client wants to renew their media buy. I do not do buyouts in perpetuity.
  • Revisions. For jobs over $250, I include one round of minor revisions. If clients need more than that I scaffold that into the pricing.
  • Pickups: I also price out my pickup policy and always give the courtesy of delivering them as promptly as the initial audio was delivered.
  • Live of guided sessions: For live sessions I have Source Connect, ipDTL, ISDN, and skype and am happy to use whatever the client prefers! I literally use that line in my “Seal the Deal” email, and for any job over $250 I am happy to do I live session. I always record backup audio and the audio from a live session is considered final delivery, which is industry standard.

All of the above is factored into the quote.

Confirming the Booking

Once a client emails that they have cast me in a spot or booking, I send what I call me “Seal the Deal” email. This goes over all of the details thus far.

  • It confirms in writing that I have the job.
  • It confirms what they want for the booking.
  • It confirms what they need and when it will be delivered.
  • It finalizes any and all requests about the audio in terms of tone, pacing, whether the client needs a WAV or an MP3 or both.
  • If there is a live session it confirms those details as well.
  • It confirms that the script that I have is the final script.

Making it as Easy as Possible

In the end, it should be as easy as possible for the client to have what they need. It should be clear and prompt. The client should be overjoyed that they have found you and instilled with confidence in your capabilities because you are clearly on top of it. If you drop the ball at the beginning, how can they ever trust you.  I want every first job to be the first of many jobs, so I take this system very seriously and want my clients to know that every single project matters.

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!