Oprah

My Chat This Week With VO Project Managers

An Unusual Opportunity…

This week I had an unusual opportunity to have a zoom sessions with a few folks who do casting. I was on a zoom call with an extremely accomplished male voice actor based in Vancouver named Brent Miller. Brent and I get to spent about 45 minutes chatting with these folks about our background, experience, best clients, niche roles, and the kind of work we book. Here is a summary of what the Project Managers asked me and how I replied:

Did you get your start on Pay to Plays?

I wouldn’t say I got my start on Pay to Plays, I would say that seeing what was available on the various casting sites gave me the confidence to pursue voice over.  When I saw how much opportunity there was on the various casting sites, I was confident that with the right training there was potential to do work and make a sustainable income. I spent years getting coaching, doing demos, and building my website before I had a presence on any of the various pay to plays though. I know some talent just buy a mic and go, but I wanted to be competitive and to put a certain quality out that represented my brand from the start. I wasn’t ready to launch until I was ready to launch.

What advice do you have for other mom’s in VO?

I say this a lot: get a crockpot. It’s hard juggling a lot of balls, and if you still have household responsibilities and you have to work a full work day, it’s hard to do everything. Plan ahead as much as possible.  I do weekly meal planning for all of our dinners.  Another tip for working mom’s is to have patience. When I started I had all of these immediate goals for my voice over career. I have always been very “Type A.” But Rome wasn’t built in a day, and especially when you have a family, you have to realize that there is not overnight success in voiceover. It does take time to build a client base. Lastly, find and report to an accountability group. I meet with mine weekly. We have five touch points that we report on, but we for sure hold each other accountable and lift each other up.

If you could work with another talent, who would it be and why?

Oprah. I have always loved Oprah. I actually came face to face with her once at the Jefferson Hotel in Washington, D.C. I was speechless. She looked amazing and said hello and I stood there mouth open and no words could come out. Nothing. Silence. But I have dreamt of speaking to her and collaborating with her and going to her school in Africa. I have dreamt of contributing in any way to one of her many amazing projects. I have fantasized about collaborating in numerous ways.

I have also had similar fantasies of working with Ellen DeGeneres. I think Ellen, like Oprah, uses her celebrity to better the world and to help people. I love the positive energy they put out and I love the giving example that Ellen sets for others. I confess that I watch whatever Facebook poppop comes up of Ellen, and if I could ever contribute to an Ellen project it would mean a lot.

What is a project you’ve booked recently that meant a lot to you?

You know it’s funny, I do a lot of TV and radio commercials, but recently I was cast in a B’Nai Mitzvah video as the voice of the family dogs. If you don’t know, a B’nai mitzvah is a Bar Mitzvah for boy/girl twins, and if you don’t know what a Bar Mitzvah is, it is a coming of age celebration at 13 for Jewish people. Anyway, in the video montage that was to play at the celebration in Long Island, I was the voice of the family dogs. This meant so much to me because I understood that all the people they loved most in the world would be there, and I was really touched be that. We talk so much about usage in the voice over industry, but this is something that hopefully these kids will show their kids in 20 or 30 years, and I hope they love it and it brings the family a lot of joy. It was really special to be a part of such an intimate project.

There are some Questions the Project Managers DID NOT Ask and I Wish They Had:

What kind of work do you want to book more of?

Promos. I spent a really long time coaching with Dave Walsh and I redid my promo demo in 2018. I would LOVE to do more promo work. As a wife and a mother, I would love to book more work related to women’s health issues. Surprisingly I seldom play the mom role, so I would love to do more as a mom in VO.  I also would love to do more work related to pet care. I have done some, but as an animal lover and mom of two dogs, I would love to add more pet brands to my client roster.

How do you feel about rates right now in the industry?

I wish the Project Managers had asked about rates. It’s something we discuss a lot in my accountability group. Particularly during the covid-19 Pandemic, I thinks some voice actors are more willing to take lower rates as work is slow. I think it is more important than ever to maintain industry standards.  Whether it is the GVAA rate guide or the Gravy for the Brain Rate Guide, it is really important that voice actors maintain a unified front and let those casting know what we are worth.