Columbia University

How Did I Get Here…

If you talk to any working, full time professional voice actor, they will tell you that the road to success seldom happens overnight. Instead, for most of us, it involves years or determination, hard work, and commitment. A voice actors story always began somewhere. Someone or something made us think we could to it, made us brave enough to step in front of a mic and not give up.

The Steps at Columbia UniversityFor me, my journey started in the mid-1990s. I was a student at Columbia University in New York City. I was studying political science. My younger sister Julie also went to school at Columbia, and we went out to eat off campus often. If you know anything about New York, you know that lots of waiters and waitresses are also actors who have to pay the bills. Well my sister and I have always sounded young, but when we were young we really sounded young. We also had a habit of speaking in unison and saying the same thing at the same time. It became a pattern that we would got to places like Ocean Grill or Isabella’s and every single time our server would comment on our voices. It wouldn’t just happen there, it would happen at Bergdorf’s or wherever we shopped. It even happened in taxi cabs. Often the follow up to asking if we are twins, and we are not, is that we should be in voice over.

Taking Action

I remember the day clearly. It was winter during my sophomore year and I went to the famous Drama Book Shop in Times Square to research how to become a voice over actor. One of the perks of being a student in NYC is that all of this was right at my Drama Book Shopfingertips. I was able to learn so much just be talking to the people who worked at the book shop, and I left with some books and a copy of Variety in hand. What I quickly discovered was that while I was in the right city to pursue voice over, at that time everything happened in person. I would have to take my tape cassettes around, show up in person for auditions, and actually go to studios for gigs. Being a student at Columbia and doing VO seemed mutually exclusive at that moment. My studies were intense and they were my primary concern, so voice over was put on the back burner.

I already knew my husband at that point, and we began to joke “When I do voiceovers…” This actually went on for more than 15 years.

Siona’s Bat Mitzvah

So in 2015 I was sitting at my friend Rachel’s daughter Siona’s Bat Mitzvah luncheon. It was a lovely day and it was nice to be surrounded by friends. A woman I knew from a school my kids used to go to sat down next to me to catch up. I knew Marie Hoffman as she was very active in the Parents’ Association and I would often see her on the carpool lane. When we started chatting, I discovered that she had been doing audio books. I learned that Marie had a home studio, and that she had built her own small business. I was so excited, more like elated. Marie was kind enough to offer to speak with me later, and we chatted for hours that weekend. She suggested coaches that I could work with and the pros and cons of pursuing voiceover. Again, this was the reinvigoration of a long-time dream, not something that was going to happen over night.

What struck me about my chat about Marie was how kind and supportive she was. In many fields, people are so competitive. This was my first glimpse of how supportive women are of each other in the voice over community. As a working mom, this support is essential to the success that I have had.

Getting Started

My chat with Marie gave me the impetus to get started in voice over. I began researching coaches, writing a business plan, and Laura Schreiber recording at Atlantis Studioresearching how to build a studio. In the coming months, I started to lay the foundations for my VO business. I began working with Anne Ganguzza, my first coach. I started planning for my VO website, and I started having my studio built. I also had tech training to learn how to record and edit. I also began taking advanced acting and improv classes at Papermill Playhouse, our local theater. Over the years I have worked with many coaches, many of the best in the industry. I continue to push and hone my skills, update my demos, attend conferences, and build. A voice over career does not happen over night. I am so thankful for the work that I have had, and I have big dreams for what is to come!