character voiceover

The Best of Things

The Unfathomable

On Friday morning I sat next to my son, in the midst of our grief stricken community, at a friend’s funeral. Tragically our friend had what is believed to be a sudden heart attack while traveling for work in Asia. Everyone was devastated, most of all his wife, his two beautiful daughters, his two brothers, his parents, and his grandmother who is a Holocaust survivor. Taken from his family at just 43, and listening to their tearful tributes, one after the next, the theme that came through is that there is no promise of tomorrow. If today is all that we have, are we making the most of today?

In voiceover, the rhythm of our days varies. Voiceover talents typically talk about our field being feast or famine. But sitting at this funeral, and thinking about the totality of how we live our life, forced me to take a step back and look at my career as a whole and not in microbursts. If today is all I have, then these are some of the reflections I am grappling with.

The Relationships We Build Mean Everything

While voiceover can certainly start to feel like a numbers game in terms of how many auditions an actor submits or how many marketing emails we send out, the building of real, inter personal relationships is far more important. Getting to know our clients and the producers who work with us means so much more than whether we submitted 10 or twenty auditions on Thursday.  Remembering to ask how someone’s son’s asthma is or checking in on how the toy fair went out of genuine concern, and letting these folks get to know you, is far more meaningful then submitting into the abyss.

Relationships with our fellow voiceover talents is also so important. I will never forget the first time I heard another talent say “the rising tide in the harbor lifts us all.” The sense of camaraderie in voiceover is incredible. I have blogged before about my womens’ accountability group. In addition to daily contact with these women, I look forward to our weekly meeting and that our is one of the most important hours of my week. It gives me a support, stability, and confidence. I am so thankful for the close relationships that I have built with other professional voiceover actors. I particularly love the women that I have met and am so thankful for this bond in my post sorority years.

Stand Tall and Be Proud

If today were all that I had, I would want my children to know that every single day, all the work that I do is for them. That every single booking, each commercial and phone message, each narration,  they all add up and they were all for them. As a momtrepreneur, I have done my best to show them that as a family we stick together and we take care of each other. That I am proud of all of my projects. I am proud of both the actual work that I have done and I am proud of what it represents. I am proud that I figured out how to work full time and get the laundry done and cook dinner, because believe me when I say that was not easy to learn and I still wish that fairies would come into my house and do it all. But nothing means more to me than having dinner with my husband and kids and talking about our day, and I guard that time like a hawk. So I am trying my best and somedays I juggle better than others, but when I look back I am so proud that I have at least figured this out for them. And as far as jobs go, working as a professional voiceover actor is a pretty cool one!

Leaving the Bubble

One of the biggest challenges for me when I went back to work was leaving the bubble which I pleasantly inhabited for the prior part of my married life. In that bubble, even though we live in a fairly diverse area relative to where I grew up in Pennsylvania, most people are from the same socio economic background, lived in NYC at one point, and are quite well-educated. Having attended an Ivy League University in the North East, when I first left the bubble, it was a bit shocking for me, meeting people from different parts of the country with very different lives. I very quickly learned that you could not make any assumptions about peoples’ backgrounds based on their last names, and that despite where we were from and where people went to college, I loved being around other creatives and meeting people who were so different than those around me every day was a joy and an inspiration. It opened my eyes to a new world and I have met so many amazing folks. Leaving my comfort zone was far from easy, but in my travels and at all sorts of industry events I am so thankful to have pushed myself to engage. This is an aspect of voiceover that a lot of folks don’t talk about but has been a big deal for me.

A Last Glimpse of Studio Life

Lastly, but certainly not least, I am so thankful that I spend my days in my professional studio with my dog Violet. Violet, a lovely and sweet Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, is the light of my life. She is the best companion a girl could ask for. If I had all the money in the world I would clone her like Barbra Streisand did with her dog. If tragedy struck today, I would be so thankful that Violet was on my lap or by my feet and brought me the greatest joy.

It’s funny that I spend so much energy to be careful to mask my natural Philadelphia accent, which just seems to flow from within. Just imagine the horror if I had recorded the commercial for Culligan Water as Culligan Wooder as I grew up saying. But regional dialect aside, I do accents in my work quite regularly.

I have family in London so I find doing a generic British accent comes quite easily. I am one of the voices on the UK Tampax channel, https://www.lauraschreibervoice.com/commercial/, and just get my nephews  in my head and out it comes, which sounds really funny when talking about Tampons. I can differentiate between central London and South London, but the way my family sounds is my go to British accent.

I have also worked in a hispanic accent. I had to do a spot for Pandora radio as a Latina girl speaking English.  Although Pandora has quite an accomplished bi-lingual roster, they needed someone who sounded solidly 13, and that was me. So, I went with somewhere in between Sophia Vergara and Selma Hayek and I gave them a few versions. As the producer himself was Latino I was so nervous to be accurate and not make it charactery. I gave them my standard three takes and it worked!

I have also worked in an array of regional American accents, from generic Southern to New York.  What do I enjoy the most? When my family listens to the spot and is waiting for me to come and then they figure out they have been listening to me all along! Sometimes they say that my voice sounds deeper or that they were confused. I love it. I love that just a subtle change can throw even the people who know me best.

Hit the Road, Jack…

As a voiceover talent, it is my job to make every word come alive and bring the script to life the way its creator intended. So I have been exposed to some pretty sensational writing, and I can tell you that as of recent sometimes the only word to describe a client who is all kinds of wrong is not even found in the English language. The word we need, instead, is the Hebrew word hutzpah.

If you are not familiar with hutzpah, let me share this mornings hutzpadic story and you will get the gist right away. A new and potential client from another country wrote to me overnight. “Sam” offered me $50 and said that was per role for an explainer video, and for those not in the know standard rates for explainers average from $175-$300 depending on the length. He then went on to explain that $50 was for a 3-4 minute script! Yes, I kept reading, mouth open, in shock. Sam then said that as this script was shorter than usual, he would be willing to offer me $50 for two scripts! This is what I call hutzpah!  If you’re thinking I was unreasonable, read my blog on how long a short recording really takes! 

So, how did I respond? I did actually respond. I thanked him for his interest and sent him a link to the GVAA rate guide, an amazing reference if you don’t know it.

I told Sam that I always maintain industry standards in every single booking, and that when he can afford to pay me a standard rate he should feel free to reach out again. I then wished him all the best in his future endeavors. No need to show hutzpah on my end.

There are a few problems with this situation. In order to send Sam walking, I had to have the confidence in myself and my work that I am worth what I know my work to be worth. I am not afraid to maintain my rates. Sadly, in recent weeks, I have gotten responses from these undesirable clients that they have multiple voiceover actors willing to submit at their rates. As long as folks new to the industry are willing to accept these low rates, they undermine the pay for the rest of us. If you are in this category, you might want to check out https://www.mikecoopervoiceover.com/. Mike often presents about this very topic at voiceover conferences!

Imagine calling a tutor for your child. The tutor is an expert in their field and that is why you trust them to begin with. They have an education in their area, and in the time that you pay them, they are going to share some skills and pass on a specific benefit to your child. You would never have the hutzpah to bargain with them or try to negotiate a different rate. As voiceover talents, we have had countless hours of training, have expensive studios to maintain, and have demos that have cost thousands of dollars. Our rates not only take this into account, but also pay for the session fee and the license for the use of our voice for a given amount of time. Attempting to undermine our rates is just hutzpah and we should never be afraid to maintain our standards.

Yeah, I Can Sell That House!


Laying in bed at night, I watch HGTV mesmerized by their programing. Even with the magnetic personalities of their hosts, who also happen to be good looking, guess what? There are always professional voiceover actors, typically women, narrating the show. Why don’t they have the hosts or realtors doing the voiceover too? Well, they have a product to sell and it takes a pro to do it!

Would you ever cut your hair yourself? Right. What happens if you need new kitchen lighting? Yeah, I’m not that girl either. What about your teeth? Do you have dentist appointments? I hope! So, in case you didn’t know, voiceover actors actually have multiple levels of training. We are trained actors, typically with years of training, acting classes, improv classes, voiceover coaching, and then continued professional development throughout our careers. We also have ongoing extensive technology to do the audio production necessary for our V.O. work. That is what makes us professionals. When I suggest that you hire a pro, I don’t just mean a creative talent who has booked  a lot of work, I am talking about what they bring to the table and why they have the skill set necessary to enhance your real estate project.

On the local level, let’s say you’re a realtor at the top of your game, with a multiple six figure listing who promises excellent marketing to your client. Do you make a youtube video? This video is truly a clients first visit to the home. That is why it is so important not just to have the house look just right, but to have your video sound warm, inviting, and professional.You narrating your own video is the equivalent of a homeowner selling their house without a broker: just like on HGTV, you really need a professional.

According to the National Association of Realtors, 9/10 of buyers rely on the internet. 52% of buyers use the internet as their first step in the buying process, and interestingly YouTube is the most popular video research destination at 51% .  Real estate searches on google have grown 253% in 4 years.  77% of first time buyers drove buy a house they viewed a video of online. Even in an older demographic, the internet is crucial for marketing home sales. 75% of senior home buyers now use the internet to search for a home. Clearly it is in your best interest to market the houses you are selling online.

But marketing them online is not enough. Do you think I’m the only one watching HGTV? No. Folks hear voiceover all the time- in the car, watching tv commercials, on in-show narration. So when you present your video, why not close the deal with top notch marketing done by a passionate pro? Draw them in. If the video is good enough and has the right voice, by the time you show them the house in person your buyer should feel right at home. Be a pro- present a well-orchestrated package that shows that you are a listing agent with savvy, marketing know-how, and creativity, and hire a voiceover actor today!

10. A talent who is well connected in the voiceover community will be an asset to you, particularly if you need to cast other voices for your project in a pinch.

9. A talent who takes feedback well.

8. Someone who takes direction well.

7. Someone who is responsive to calls/emails.

6. Someone with guided session capabilities like ipDTL, source connect, or ISDN.

5. Talent with a clearly stated turn-around time

4. A clear and honest policy on pickups and revisions

3. A pleasant personality that will be a delight to work with.

2. High end equipment in the studio that will enable pristine sound

1. Top notch talent who can do the job you need!