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!

Why Leaving the Foam Booth is Worthwhile

As a full-time, working mom, working from home is a major perk. I realize often how lucky I am to have my home studio. Whether it’s a day where I can accommodate multiple client sessions and run to m kids’ school to watch a special presentation, or a day when I am feeling exhausted and want to stay in yoga pants and no one knows the difference, working from home is a pretty sweet gig. But I will also be the first to say that in order to be a successful solopreneur, I need to leave to comforts of the home office that I have worked so hard to build in order to broaden my professional network.  I have made amazing connections in both expected and unexpected places because I made the effort to leave the booth!

Connections in expected places

I have blogged in the past about my conference adventures. From voice conferences like WoVo Con and VO Atlanta, to eLearning conferences like DevLearn, I have made very important connections at these conferences. At voice over conferences, I have met

Wonderful industry friends at WoVo Con, a night out with Uncle Roy in China Town the weekend of Sovas, an eLearning Guild conference in Orlando, and the WWRS in Burbank!

industry friends in person that I otherwise only know online from facebook or instagram. The bonds that form are amazing and so meaningful. These folks have become my daily support, my confidants, and my work family. These are the people I trust and confide in. The relationships would never be the same if we were not together in person. We also often refer business to each other, and again, we would not trust each other to share clients if we did not know each other so well, the way you do when you actually spend time together.

I have traveled pretty far for eLearning conferences like DevLearn and other eLearning guild conferences too. These conferences are different because you are putting yourself face to face with the companies who might need your services. Some of my most regular clients are from the smallest conferences I have gone to! The tricky thing about these conferences is that companies often send their sales team, and these are not people who cast voice talent, so as a voice over actor, you have to learn how to access the people that you can work with. You also have to learn the difference between the people who create content and the LMS providers, as they never need our services. It is also important to note that simply meeting these people at a conference and exchanging pleasantries in know way guarantees the connection. Instead, it takes months if not years of consistent follow up to build a rapport and maintain the connection that began at the conference.

Connections in Unexpected Places

I have also made wonderful connections for my business when I was not “on” or in “networking mode.” Once, at an ATD conference in Atlanta, I was totally exhausted. I did not know how I would get through the day in the massive venue with so many booths left to walk through in the expo center. I decided I needed a snack break. I had to take the escalator up four flights, which

This is what the first glimpse looked like. It was an enormous expo and several days there was both a great opportunity and exhausting all at once!

felt like an eternity, and I began chatting with a really nice lady from Boston who is now a client. She also needed a break and like me was desperate for a bottle of water, and being in that snack stand at that moment, seemed meant to be. We chatted and chatted and this instructional designer started venting about talents she had used in the past that had not worked out. The conversation flowed, and the opportunity was natural.  Sometimes it is these genuine, real chats that make the most impact and help people get to know you and then if there is a professional synergy it is that much better!

Recently, I was at the AI conference at NJIT in Newark. To be honest, even though I was only about four miles from my house, I was petrified to be in such a tough part of town and I was seriously questioning the logic in having a potentially great conference at such a venue. Well, there was another young man and woman who also had to walk from the parking garage to the main building around the same time. We just started walking together. I was relieved and started venting immediately. It turns out this woman was a talent agent from Denver and we had so much in common! That first chat has led to multiple phone calls. I am now on their talent roster for voiceover, promotional modeling, and on-camera work:


So, like my experience at ATD years ago, this wonderful connection came from a genuine, heart-felt conversation and there also happened to be true professional synergy. I did not start out trying to market myself, I just sought out human connection. This is why leaving the booth is so essential!