Even at the Beginning, It’s Who You Know
When I first got to Barnard, the women’s college at Columbia University, I had a hard time finding my niche socially. This was very unusual for me as I was always a social butterfly and made friends so easily. Still, I did not immediately bond with the other girls on my floor. The kids seemed cliquish. Then, my friend Marissa who I knew from my Sociology class, invited me to her room to see her formal pictures. That changed everything! When I saw Marissa’s photos, I wanted to go to these parties too. Next thing I knew I was at a sorority rush party and before I knew it I was a proud sister of Alpha Chi Omega. The girls in AXO were amazing. They were involved in all aspects of life at Columbia, from sports teams to student government to the newspaper. AXO was the network that I needed and I loved all of these women. I don’t know where I would be today, and how I would have made it through my years of college and graduate school at Columbia, without the support system of AXO. I learned through my sorority that knowing the right people is extremely important.
When I first started working as a professional voiceover actress years ago, I had one friend in voiceover, Marie Hoffman. Marie introduced me to Uncle Roy of Antland Productions. If you’re “in the biz,” then you already know that Uncle Roy (not really our Uncle but every one calls him that) wears lot of hats from producer to coach to demo producer to audio engineer at shows and conferences and more. Anyway, every year without fail Uncle Roy has a famous industry wide barbecue that voiceover talents come to not just from all over the country, but from around the world! Folks literally fly in for this event and the first time I was invited I had no idea what I was walking in to. I had heard how close knit the voiceover community was, but until walking into Uncle Roy’s barbecue I never felt it before. Producers, voiceover actors, agents, spouses, website folks were all together schmoozing and getting to know each other. I met people in person that I had taken online classes with and “knew” from facebook. I had so much fun. I also felt that these amazing people were my people and were the voiceover industry. As working creatives, we are only as strong as our network, and as I very much want to succeed, since the beginning of my business I have worked hard to build and maintain a strong network.
When I started in voiceover, my very first coach was the esteemed voiceover talent and one time Jersey girl Anne Ganguzza. Now located in California, in addition to being a tremendous role model for many, Anne runs an amazing group called VO Peeps: https://vopeeps.com/. According to their mission, “VO Peeps is a global meet up group dedicated to providing resources and information about Voiceover, and related media, industries.” Taking classes with fantastic voiceover artists like Scott Brick was an amazing opportunity when I started out in voiceover. Not only did I get to meet established professionals, there were working voiceover actors at all points in their careers in the workouts. Just the existence of VO Peeps seemed to good to believe but it is there for all of us to join and the offerings seem to get better and better.
VO Peeps also sells some products. This may seem like a small thing, but when you are trying to become part of a network, products are actually essential to identifying with that network. From useful cable ties for our voiceover equipment to shirts and vocal remedies, the store on the VO Peeps website is great:)
The Professionals: WoVo
Even though it has now been quite a few years, I still remember the day that I had booked enough work to become a professional level member of World Voices Organization, https://www.world-voices.org/, “a non-profit, member-driven industry association of professional voice talent.” Not only was that credential extremely important to me, it meant so much to become a part of this esteemed group of voiceover actors. I felt that it validated all of my hard work and belonging to this group and this network was very meaningful to me. Over the years I have had the opportunity to mentor several people through the mentor program and I have loved being able to help new talents just starting out in the field.
Another reason that I love being part of WoVo is that I began attending the conferences. Meeting these amazing professional voiceover talents in person and learning from my peers is nothing short of incredible. The tips and tricks that I learned at the conference I use in my daily work, from Twisted Wave tweaks to efficiency habits, their expertise helps profoundly. There is also something so magical about all of these established, working creatives being in one space together. If I thought Uncle Roy’s barbecue was something, that is fun and social. The WoVo conference has that element that we all love and need plus the productivity that we cannot get elsewhere.
Voice Peddler Family Interviews
One of my dear mentors who coached me for a very long time, Fred Frees, started the Voice Peddler Family Interviews. Not only does this provide a facebook group for social interaction between all sorts of industry people, including voiceover actors, agents, and producers alike, but Fred also has a youtube channel where he interviews top talents! His interviews are set up in a unique way and are a joy to watch. The facebook group is also unique because each day has a different theme. For example, there is a share your demo day, a demo critique day, and a day to ask tech questions. I have gotten invaluable advice from this sharing. I love the vibe and good natured banter of Fred’s group. I also am so inspired by the many successful talents that Fred has showcased in his interviews.
Just the Gals
Every week on Wednesday night I spend an hour with my VO women’s group:) An amazing, talented, brilliant group of professional voiceover actor’s who’s names I will keep to myself! We discuss our work, our strategies, our equipment, and I’ll confess we also discuss our lives a little bit too. I may be more guilty of that that the others! We also refer business to each other when possible. The weeks go by so quickly and my chats with these women are immensely helpful and inspirational. I look forward to our time together and I count on them for their guidance and expertise.
So Many Groups, so Little Time…
With an unlimited amount of options, I spend tons of time on LinkedIn and Facebook every single day. Some people are joiners. That has nothing to do with why I do this. My business depends on building interpersonal relationships and in this era, the way to do it is to participate in these groups, chats, webinars, etc.
Ok, so it’s possible, maybe even probable, that those of us who are successful in voiceover have certain personality characteristics. It would be fair to say that most of us are people people. It might also be fair to say that to succeed in voiceover getting along with others is a must. So, from my sorority days in college, while my parents might have been afraid that I was “too social,” I was actually honing the very skills essential to take off in voiceover!