In order to even ask the question, how does a middle-aged mom make the move from History teacher to full-time, professional voiceover actress, you have to believe that dreams really do come true. For me, the seeds of this dream were planted when I was a passionate and enthusiastic college student at Barnard. Being in New York City, I was exposed to actors regularly- often when they were waiters in restaurants and people regularly commented on my voice. I have a very high register and sound quite young for my age. Even when I was young people were surprised when they heard me. I was encouraged multiple times a week in college to pursue voiceover or something in performing arts.
My sophomore year I took it as far as buying both a book and a newspaper about making a demo, which would then have been on casette tape, and looking into auditions. Back then, nothing in our industry was on-line as it is today. Voiceactors had to show up in person for every audition and the arduous task of mailing out packages of demos seemed quite daunting from my college dorm. Being at Columbia was something that I worked for my entire life and I could not reconcile my academic ambitions and my creative goals. At that point, I stayed at Columbia through graduate school and was well on my way to teaching.
It was not that I wasn’t happy teaching. I woke up every day with a smile on my face and felt like I had found my calling. I was fortunate to teach at an all-girls school on the Upper East Side of New York and really the job was ideal. So what changed? I had children. When I had my twins Emma and Jack, I could not stomach leaving them, particularly when we moved to the suburbs in New Jersey. I would have been gone for a really long day and I would have been forgoing time with my children to be with other people’s children. It just did not seem reasonable to me.
Building a recording studio in my house, where I could work full time but from home- now that seemed like the perfect answer! I could be there for early dismissals, for science fairs, for conferences, and I could pursue the dreams that I had cast aside so many years ago. One weekend I was seated next to an old friend named Marie at a party. Marie had built a home studio and was doing audio books. She was still working another job part time while she transitioned to voiceover, but when I heard that Marie had had the confidence to invest in herself, it gave me the strength to make the next step for me and for my family. Once I began my journey into voiceover, I viewed it as if it was certain truth and felt in my heart that there was no other path for me.
What grew from months of researching and writing a business plan, to building a custom booth, and years of training with coaches and acting and improv classes, has now blossomed into a sustainable business. Nothing makes me happier than calls and emails from repeat clients booking work. But my years of teaching- that is so much a part of who I am, and I believe that the performance component of teaching and the ability to connect with people that is so essential to being a good teacher is the foundation to my voiceover business.
Interestingly, I do find myself in the company of other teachers in the voiceover world more often than you might think. Yes, there are others who were teachers and are now voice talents. The world of E-learning is another place where I fit in with ease and I find that my former life as an educator and my current life mesh seamlessly. As a member of the E-learning guild, when I attend conferences around the country, I find that I just seem to click with the folks I meet. Whether they want to talk about my work narrating E-learning modules, or whether we are discussing the LMS they work on or the next big trend in micro-learning, I love being right on the cutting edge of the digital classroom revolution with them. How lucky I am to be relevant to their work on so many levels.
Whether I am doing a radio spot, an animation character, an E-learning module, or a Telephony message, I can tell you that I now feel as at home in my booth in front of the microphone as I once felt in front of the black board with chalk in my hand.