craft

Taking Daisy to New Skete

Daisy at New Skete Training CenterI have been blessed to have three precious dogs in my life, and each of them has brought me immeasurable joy. I had no idea, however, that when we got our Labrador Retriever Daisy, in addition to being super sweet and super smart, she would also be super challenging to walk without the right training. A neighbor with two Great Dane pups introduced me to the dog training books by the Monks of New Skete, who have been training dogs since the 1970s. We made the choice to send Daisy for a board and stay training program, and I learned from the brothers that there were a few keys essential to Daisy’s success. We needed to be consistent with her obedience every day and maintain her routine. She would need structured daily exercise. We needed to plan everything- even her walks, to set her up for success. As a small business owner, I realized that in voice over all the lessons that would lead to success for Daisy also hold true to maintaining a successful professional voiceover career.

Doing What’s Right, Not What’s Easy

Just like in Daisy’s dog training, doing what’s right in my voice over business instead of what is easy is essential to success. One of the most challenging aspects of running a VO business is determining rates with clients. Even though it can be awkward and is not fun to talk about money, it is really important to always maintain industry standard rates and hold your ground.

Another area that demands a good deal of time and attention, and I have put countless hours into, is audio quality. Again, like dog training, it is far from easy to sound pristine. I have worked with top sound engineers to perfect my setup and effects stacks. Even for my travel rig, I have made sure it sounds just like the audio in my booth. None of this is easy. None of these are quick fixes. Just like the dog training, this takes a lot of dedication, time, and work. In the end, though, I could never send out anything less.

Maintaining a Consistent Routine

Daisy and Violet sitting nicelyNow back from New Skete, every day Daisy has to run through her exercises, from leave it and heal to place. Similarly, working on my craft is essential every day. From warm up exercises to practicing cold reading, this is part of my daily routine. I recently reflected on this in my blog about the class that I am taking with Kim Handysides, but in order to stay strong in the reads that I submit both as auditions and as booked work, this daily work is essential to my success.

I have health rituals that are also essential to my voice over success. I steam with a personal steamer. I am also on a gluten free and dairy free diet. This consistency matters in how I sound.

Daily Exercises

Just as Daisy needs her purposeful walk, I need a certain amount of daily exercise to stay in shape for Daisy playing with toy in the grassvoice over, I walk four to five miles a day. I do pilates three times a week. All of that is in addition to my vocal warm ups. When your body is your instrument, you have to maintain your instrument every single day.

It’s All Building A Strong Relationship

The intent behind Daisy’s obedience training is to strengthen the relationship between the dog and her humans. Well, the most important thing that we do in voice over is build lasting relationships with our clients. Every single choice we make feeds and fuels that relationship. If we make the wrong choice, it can damage that relationship. If we stay out too late with friends and are at a loud restaurant with a live session the next morning, how will our client feel when we show up to the booking sounding like a much raspier version of ourselves? The answer is you do not want to find out. In voice over, we make choices in anticipation of the outcome they will have on our body and our voice. Being able to show up and perform Laura Schreiber with Daisy and Violet on Couchis the biggest part of the deal, and being honest and up front about it when we can’t is also essential. Being able to foster a strong relationship is really important to building a client base.

In the same way that communicating well with Daisy strengthens our family bonds, doing all of the above plus communicating well with clients strengthens our connections with them. As they can rely on our work being consistently good and being there when they need it, they will be able to trust us for their clients, and in the end that trust is what matters most. As a professional talent, a new booking is great, but when that new booking comes back, it’s almost as good as when Daisy comes galloping towards me.

When Each Day in VO Feels Like a Time Loop

I happened to marry a huge Bill Murray fan, and from Quick Change to Groundhog Day, I think I’ve seen all of his top hits, but Groundhog Day is my favorite. As a working mom, having a system to maintain efficiency is really important but What if nothing you did mattered?unfortunately that same system often makes every single day feel the same. I go into my booth and warm up. I do my most pressing auditions first. Next I tend to all booked work. I submit more auditions. I stop and walk the dogs. I typically eat an early lunch then work on client outreach. Then I go back in the booth for more work and to submit more auditions. Every day is pretty much the same. I meet with my accountability group on Thursdays and I blog on Sundays. Days are the same and weeks blend together. So, as a full-time voice over professional who is booking work, you might be asking what is wrong with this? The problem is the rut the I feel like I fall in. With no room for self-checks and no room to make sure that I am submitting the best possible reads, the Groundhog day scenario perpetuates itself. The best way to break this cycle and for a voice over professional to submit bookable auditions is to work on their craft regularly and to work with top coaches who give solid feedback! In voice over we are constantly being asked why we are different than other talents and those of us who book work know that the answer is seldom our voice but rather that we need to work on our craft to stand out!

Why “The Voice Over Study” Class with Kim and Lisa

The First step is a doozy It’s important to pick the right coaches and I’ve been blessed to work with many excellent ones in the years that I’ve been in voice over. Sometimes you want private lessons and sometimes  group classes can meet your training needs. Right now I wanted to shake things up. Kim Handysides and her daughter Lisa Suliteanu book a lot of  work. They understand what is au courant and have created a curriculum across genres to target bookable reads. Kim has been an industry leader for 30 plus years and her talented daughter Lisa has been working steadily since she was 7 years old and has been full-time since finishing university. In case you’re wondering what the vibe of their class is like, it is upbeat, inspirational, clever, and fun. With so many coaches in the industry at the moment, this class is designed to put voice actors on the path to success and enrolling was a great step for me, even so many years into my career!

A Fresh Look at Scripts

Bill Murray playing the piano In Groundhog Day, we see Phill Conners taking piano lessons and becoming an amazing pianist. This did not happen over night. It took lots and lots of practice. Right now in The Voice Over Study, we work on different scripts and then can use those tools to go back and really work on a script. The more we learn to unravel it, the better our reads become. For me, having fresh feedback on my reads is helpful. It is also just as helpful to pay attention to the reads of the other voice actors in the class, listen to how they approach the scripts, and think about the feedback that they are given. I try to incorporate this approach into both my auditions and my booked work and bring some freshness to it all.

Interact with Others

Bill Murray With Andie MacDowellIn Groundhog Day, we see Phil’s relationship with others in the town blossom and develop throughout the film as he gets to relive each day. For me, having an opportunity to meet other voice over actors is really valuable. The other talents in the class are from different parts of the United States and Canada. We are at different points in our careers and we all aspire to focus on different genres of voice over. Still, I think knowing other voice actors is essential to our success, and I am so thankful to be getting to know the other actors in this class as we all learn together.

What’s Current and What is Booking NOW

Phil Conners with News Team Just as we see Phil repeatedly attempting to cover the story about Punxsutawney Phil, there are countless ways each script can be approached, so wouldn’t it save a lot of time and energy to understand which reads are actually booking right now? That is the point of “The Voice Over Study,” the nuances of the bookable read are not necessarily my go to read, so I am so thankful for the first few sessions already! For example, the words to emphasize or blend may not be what I had thought of, so this valuable feedback, and the reinforcement of it, makes Kim and Lisa’s class outstanding. In class last week, Kim directed me to hit words I never word have that to enunciate, and the overall gestalt of the read was just a million times better. Her instincts are amazing. Kim and Lisa book A LOT of work on their own, and my goal is to be as busy as they are!

Read Rate/HW keeps As Honest

Bill Murray reading poetry In class we have homework. We have scripts to prepare and we are also supposed to work on cold reading. I also love this, as both make me more efficient and more effective in my daily work.  These tasks are something that I look forward to, as I feel like I am taking control of my career and determining my own path.

If you have a passion for voice over and you want to make your work stand out, do something different, be bold, and take this class! Unlike Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, in the voice over industry what you do each day does matter so get coaching, do the work, and make your career better!