|People ask me a lot of questions through e-mails, letters and convention appearances, but there are some questions that pop up again and again. Though I wish I could answer each person personally, I don’t always have a chance to respond as thoroughly as I’d like. Here are some of the questions I’m asked most often—hopefully your burning question is one of them!
|I grew up in a little town in central Kansas. I went to the University of Kansas in Lawrence (Go Jayhawks!) and worked professionally in Kansas City before moving to Los Angeles. Still love the Midwest and get back there whenever I can…
|When did you know you wanted to do voiceovers?
|I loved cartoons when I was a kid; that’s what really started it. Even as a child, I had a sense that someone was doing the voices on TV…..and I wanted to do those voices, too! I was acting out commercials and cartoons and recording myself on cassette tapes from as early as I can remember.
|What was your first voiceover job?
|My very first voiceover job was on my 11th birthday. It was a radio drama, and I played a love-struck young girl named Gloria. During a vacation to California, I was touring a recording studio with my family. It turned out that the producers were looking for a girl my age to play Gloria—when they saw me come through on the tour, they asked me if I wanted to audition for a part. I booked the job, recorded it on the spot, and the rest is history!
|What’s your favorite character you’ve ever voiced?
|I keep trying to figure out the answer to this question, but the truth is I can’t pick just one! I’m lucky enough to work on various projects, and I find I get excited about whatever I happen to be working on at the moment. My list of sentimental ‘favorites’ is really long!
|Do you ever appear at conventions?
|I go to a few conventions when I can and will try to keep you posted about upcoming appearances on this website. If you’re interested in having me attend a convention, check out the Appearances page for more information.
|Do you have any advice for aspiring voice actors?
|Hands down, this is the question I’m asked most often. How do I get started? How do I become a voice actor?
The first question you need to ask yourself is: what kind of voice do I have?
Seems like a simple question, but you’d be surprised how many people have no idea what they truly sound like! Have you ever left a message on someone’s answering machine, heard it later and thought, “Do I really sound like that??” If you want a career in voiceovers, you have to really get to know your voice. I recommend recording yourself on tape and playing it back. Experiment: see how high your voice can go, how low it can go, which range feels most comfortable. Do you find yourself gravitating towards various goofy voices, one or two basic characters, or do you find you have one certain vocal ‘pocket’ that feels really strong?
Start really listening to the radio, TV, video games, books on tape, talking toys in the toy store, in-store videos, promos at the movie theatre, even the GPS in your car…..there are many, many different kinds of voiceover: which kinds appeal to you? Which ones could you hear yourself doing? It’s important to start figuring out your vocal ‘type’ so you can zero in on your strengths.
Start reading aloud everyday: it’s one of the best things you can do for yourself. Not only does it get you used to hearing your own voice, but it improves your cold reading skills. Voice actors often don’t get material in advance—being able to pick something up and read it comfortably is a huge asset. Read ads in a magazine out loud. Read the phone book. Check out a medical text at the library and read it….it may help you book a pharmaceutical commercial someday!
TAKE CLASSES. If there are special voiceover workshops available in your area, sign up for one. Research what types of speech and acting classes are available in your area. People get into this business in different ways, but you’ll find that most successful voiceover actors are good actors in general. We’ve all seen beautiful people in commercials and movies that can barely walk and talk at the same time….that doesn’t work in voiceovers. For one thing, in v/o you don’t have to hire five different people for a job….you can hire ONE actor to do five different voices…so booking work can be harder. And even people with very “interesting” voices will only last so long if they can’t take direction and create believable characters. That’s why acting classes that focus on cold reading, character development, improvisation and auditioning skills are so helpful in voiceover. (I once booked a video game job after taking a Shakespeare class to ‘brush up’….Shakespeare is great vocal training!)
Community colleges can be a great, affordable resource. Along with the theatre classes, explore the Speech, Communications, and Broadcast departments. Public speaking classes, diction classes, etc. can be great learning opportunities.
Many voiceover people started in radio, so look for opportunities to intern at your local radio stations. It’s a chance to get a hands-on look at what it’s like to be in a studio and work in front of a microphone. There are technical elements to voiceover: ask a sound engineer for tips on setting your levels correctly. Ask if you can put headphones on in the booth and hear what you sound like speaking into the mic—it’s a very different sound! You CAN find opportunities in your area if you look for them. I’m living proof that you don’t have to grow up in a huge city to build a career.
Finally, a word of caution about voiceover demos.
Do NOT go into a studio and put together an expensive demo before you are ready—“ready” meaning: you have taken at least one class, gotten feedback from a few knowledgeable people and have a sense of what your voice ‘type is.’
A BAD DEMO IS WORSE THAN NO DEMO AT ALL.
(I’m going to give you a second to read the sentence above again….)
Not only can it be really, really expensive, but nothing screams ‘amateur’ faster than a bad demo. You should only put a professional demo together when you feel you are ready to book professional jobs—and your demo should reflect that. Some voiceover workshops will promise you that you’ll “walk away with a demo at the end of the class.” Most of the time, these demos should be viewed as learning tools rather than a finished demo to mail out to agents or casting people. Make sure you get feedback from a few more outside sources before using such demos as your calling card…
Listen to as many demos as you can and focus on the ones you listen to for more than 5-10 seconds. You can listen to many examples of voiceover demos at online sites like: www.voicebank.net or www.voices.com Be prepared before you pay to record!
Voiceover is a wonderful business: play, learn, grow and above all: HAVE FUN!!
Hope this answered a few of your questions…if you have a question that you don’t see here, you can always e-mail me at the e-mail address listed on the Contact page….it may take awhile, but I’ll get back to you as soon as I can!