Friday, December 28, 2007

Looking Back...

It started with a post from my pal Peter O'Connell on his blog. Then Philip Banks brought it up on the message boards. That's when I knew it was time...

It was time to open up the books and take a serious look at my first year as a full-time voice actor.

First, I went through my 2007 earnings (no, I am not planning to share the numbers here...sorry) Turns out 30% of my earnings were on camera (commercials, infomercials, etc) and 70% was VO. Then, I took a hard look at my VO work.

Where did it come from?

I broke this down into type of job (commercial, animation, radio imaging, video games, narrations, etc), origin of job (word of mouth, website hits, local studios, agents, online casting sites, etc), and finally by client (repeat versus one time only).

The results were fascinating. I discovered that much of my time had been spent pursuing work in places that netted me the least work! I also realized my marketing efforts over the year were not always spot on for the type of work I am most likely to book.

After breaking down my earnings, I turned my sites to my spending. Where was my money going? Most of it obviously went to equipment for my home studio and website maintenance. Next in line was money spent towards classes, coaching, and conferences. Last in line was money put towards marketing.

I felt my spending was just as it should be. Without great equipment, my clients can't rely on my product. Without proper coaching (which I believe should never end!) I won't be up to date on the latest VO trends. Without great will future clients find me?

Philip Banks said to me on the phone the other day that we, as voice talent, are really just selling our time. Is the amount of time spent on a project equal to the total earnings? If you continue to audition for the same type of jobs and aren't booking anything, is it time to pursue a different type of work?

My voice coach (and friend!), Nancy Wolfson, recently shared some incredible ideas about business with me in one of our sessions. I asked her permission to share a small part of it with you (I want to add...if you ever have the opportunity to study with Nancy, it would be a wise investment in your business. As you will read, she really knows her stuff!):


Every company is obliged, first and foremost, to return profit and value to shareholders. Are you returning profit to yourself?
It is wise to run the year-end metrics of your business to define and evaluate profits, losses, investments, and returns.

Evaluate the time and money and energies you expend and in what areas against the returns, having a look at what created value for you and what did not.

Do not limit the concept of "value" only to tangible dollar income. A few examples of non-monetary positive value:
- improved skills - they are like upgraded machinery in your factory.
- an improved demo (or your first one!) is like stocking your shelves with better inventory.
- perhaps you met people in your business pursuits who opened doorways to auditions or perhaps you met a friend who created publicity for you.

How much of one's day is spent on the boards versus pursuing skills, pursuing work, actually doing jobs? How much of one's sweat goes into jobs in one piece of your business's pie chart and not another...Sometimes we realize we've spent lots of energy gossiping and commiserating when that time could have been more positively spent making valuable business connections.
Has the marketing been more busywork than targeted?
Is what is being marketed up to top competition standards deserving of that energy and worth risking that "first impression"?

I'm excited to support those who work hard about working smart in '08 and beyond!-- Nancy Wolfson

With only a few days left in 2007, and with tax season looming is the time to take a serious look at your own business. What changes can you make to ensure 2008 is even more profitable than 2007? What are your overall goals? Are they centered more around your earnings or more around the types of jobs you do? Are you in need of better equipment, or a great voice coach? What are the people and things you spend your time and money on really doing to further your dreams?

I am confident I am headed in the right direction, and with the right people by my side...are you?

Here's to an incredible 2008, may you be Blessed with health, love, friendship, and much success!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Surfing The 'Net...

I hope you each had a wonderful Christmas (or whichever Holiday you celebrate)! As we look towards the New Year...I discovered there is quite a bit of activity online today! Perusing my favorite blogs and message boards, I came across some fun things, and some wise advice!

First, my dear friend Peter O'Connell had a wonderful idea on his blog. After all the discussion regarding Brian Williams hiring Michael Douglas to intro NBC's Nightly News, Peter put out his own casting call for voices. Of course, you would never hear someone with my voice type intro the evening news...but I still gave it a shot! You can hear all the 'auditions' on his blog. It's a good reminder of the kind of talent one can find in this country (and beyond)!

Second, I was reading some very wise words from Philip Banks on one of the VO message boards. I wanted to share his thoughts, because I think we could all learn something from them:

The Year Of The Spine, by Philip Banks

“Hello. My name is Marv’. I’m a voice talent and a victim of bullying”. So go the introductions around the room at the most recent meeting of Bullying Victims Anonymous or BVA.
In LA there are groups specifically for voice over artists. Believe me? Of course it’s untrue but it ought to be true because the number of victims in the voice over world is huge. Combine insecurity, ego, desperation with a sprinkling of sycophancy and cowardice and you have the perfect target for a bully.

Make it your goal not to be a victim or a bully and watch yourself for declining standards of behaviour.

Here’s an example. An agency sends you an audition for a job but you notice that the fee is neither here nor there and that it’s a cattle call. You delete the audition and contact the agent requesting that they only contact you with jobs or when a client has specifically requested that you audition. Now, how many of you as you read the example started saying “ah but it doesn’t work like that” or “I don’t want to upset the agent” or “an audition is good practice”? Take a black marker pen and write VICTIM on your forehead, it’ll save people time. To quote Julia Robert’s character in Pretty Woman “I decide who, I decide when, I decide how much!” Look in the mirror and say it out loud.

The pay to play (audition) voice over web sites tell talent how much, when, where, how to but they pay talent NOTHING! Talent pays a site and then allows it to set the agenda. For $100, $200, $300 or more the site works for the voice NOT the other way around.

“I’m a voice over professional and I understand the way things are done”. No you don’t, you’ve just fallen into line. Try this line in the mirror “Oh no, I’ve become a coward” can you bear to repeat it? I hope not.

I’m certainly not saying become an arrogant, pompous moron but I am asking you to think about the way you behave and the way you are perceived. It is possible to stand your ground, let people see things from your point of view, don’t let people waste your time, money or talent ALL with a smile on your face and with an agreeable manner.

It's worth mentioning that this was written to be read as a sort of "pause for thought" and the comments made are based on some tough lessons I had to learn a few years ago.

Good luck for 2008

Finally, (and thank you for sticking with me this long!), a voice over hopeful posted some wonderful questions on VoiceOverSavvy. If you are considering voice over, or are just beginning your career, I highly recommend you read this post!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A Christmas Family

My friend, Philip Banks, had a splendid idea yesterday. Start a voice over chain letter that would be passed from man to woman to man to woman and on...

It would be a reading of 'Twas The Night Before Christmas and would feature a few of our friends from the VO-BB.

It started with an idea...and now it is posted for all to hear.

Many thanks to Philip for not only the idea, but the fantastic production of the entire project!

Edit: Here is now the COMPLETE list of contributors on this project (in order of appearance):

1. Philip Banks
2. DB Cooper
3. Peter O'Connell
4. Kara Edwards
5. Bob Souer
6. Diane Maggipinto
7. Todd Ellis
8. Connie Terwilliger
9. Brian Hart
10. Moe Egan
11. Greg Littlefield
12. Mary McKitrick
13. Michael Rhys
14. Liz de Nesnera
15. Frank Frederick
16. Tammy McDaniel
17. Greg Phelps
18. Caryn Clark
19. Greg Allen
20. Marcy Worthington
21. Frank Frederick
22. Liz de Nesnera
23. Michael Rhys
24. Mary McKitrick
25. Todd Ellis
26. Liz de Nesnera
27. David Monteath
28. Mary McKitrick
29. Philip Banks
30. Kara Edwards

A very Merry Christmas to you and yours!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Get Well Soon!


Don LaFontaine had a recent health scare we could all learn something from. You can read his personal account of the story at

Metting Don was the highlight for many of us at VOICE 2007 in Las Vegas. He is a generous, funny, and charismatic man. Even my mom loved him!

I would like to add my well wishes to the thousands I know are headed his way. May you have a swift and pain free recovery Don!

[above photo taken at VOICE 2007]

Saturday, December 8, 2007

The Power of Thank You

In my last post, I talked about the importance of humility, respect, and manners in all aspects of our business and personal lives. The only thing that could possibly be more important than these three things is the value of appreciation.

The holidays are a wonderful excuse to share your gratitude with those that make a daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly impact on your life. It is, in fact, what the holidays are all about.

While it may seem this is a great time to market your business for next year, I believe it is a better time to say 'thank you' for the year that has past.

There are a wide variety of ways you can say 'thank you'. Write it in an e-mail, send a card, or give a gift. I honestly don't think one of these is better than the other, as long as the final message is the same.

I appreciate you for who you are, for how you have helped me, and for the difference you make in my life.

In this time of giving, don't forget those who impact your business the most. Not just your clients...but your agents, your coach, your colleagues, your favorite equipment supplier, your technician, your local studios, your friends and family who continue to support you and cheer you on. Each deserves all the thanks you can give!

Showing appreciation is less about the money you spend and much more about the thought you put into it. So spend a moment really thinking about those that matter, and how to best say 'thank you for all you do'.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

The Gift of Humility

When the decision is made to pursue voice over, there are many steps that must be taken to get from point A to point B. Demos, coaches, websites, branding, weekend seminars, etc, etc. Along the way, it is easy to forget our manners!

Bob Souer recently wrote a blog about the importance of editing ourselves in cyberspace. The things we write on message boards, the pictures we post, the reviews we write are all searchable by our current and potential clients. Bob reminds us that our image online needs to reflect the image we want to uphold in all aspects of our lives. It is in fact, our branding at stake.

I want to take it one step further. On several of the voice over message boards, there are sections where we can post demos for critique by our peers. More than once I have been astounded by the behavior of a very few individuals. When their colleagues take the time to offer advice, these few folks will actually argue and insult those they asked for help! It leaves me wondering, if they already know it all, why ask for advice?

The same can be said about the e-mails you send. I receive somewhere between 10-30 e-mails per month from folks asking how to break into the voice over business. 99% of the time these e-mails are very polite and to the point. On a rare occasion, however, these e-mails have been quite insulting. I've had my website made fun of, my demos trashed, my past work put down...all by folks wanting to do what I do for a living!

Typically, these e-mails simply become something my family and I joke about over a glass of wine...but occasionally they can be quite upsetting! I often think how fortunate it is for the e-mailer that those words were sent to me and not to someone who could potentially ruin their career before it even began!

When sending e-mails, making calls, writing critiques, asking for help, and a thousand more areas of your life...stop and remember humility is a gift. Our imperfections are what make us human...and I for one know I have a long way to go in this life...and much left to learn!

Monday, November 26, 2007

So Much More

Rowell Gorman wrote one of my favorite voice over stories ever on his blog the other day. It's called "You'd Better Get The Real Thing, Or A Good Voice Actor!" Please take a moment and read won't be sorry!

99% of our time as voice actors is spent reading words off a script, rarely are we given the opportunity to truly bring a character to life. Just minutes ago, I was given one of these opportunities.

Razzles, from the PBS show RAGGS, was interviewed by Nikki Landry on 95.7 The Wolf in San Fransisco. While I was given a script in advance of things to work into the interview, I was also given permission to 'just have fun' and ad lib a bit.

It was a hoot! We giggled, I howled, discussed my recent 'paw-dicure'...just generally had a great time.

There is so much debate (In fact, one is currently taking place on one of the VO message boards) about how much acting there is in voice over. I'm a believer that VO is about much more than just a's about a's about bringing someone to life. Whether you are the kind person telling us about the latest Ford vehicle...or the newest cartoon character on The Disney channel...

You are more than your are an actor.

...And...isn't that just fun?

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

As I finish up my grocery list for the upcoming Holiday, I wanted to take a moment and thank all that have helped make this an amazing year.

Seems strange that it was only September 7th of last year that I made a decision to take my love of voice acting full-time. What a journey it has been!

It was New Year's day that the call came RAGGS had just been picked up by several PBS stations. I've since voiced around 40 episodes as Razzles, and have received word production will continue next year. In fact, this Saturday my husband and I plan to attend the live RAGGS Christmas show! Watching this amazing series grow, and having the chance to work with such an amazing cast and crew is something I am so thankful for.

I am also thankful for all of my new voice acting friends! The list is way too long to write out, but each of you are so special to me. In fact, yesterday I had the pleasure of showing Peter O'Connell around town and then joining Bob Souer for dinner! I am one lucky lady :)

This morning I looked over my books and was thrilled to realize the slow summer months are finally over and things have picked up considerably in the VO world! In addition, the on-camera work has remained steady, and I had 2 TV commercial auditions in just the past few days! Looks like I'll have quite the list come Thanksgiving Day of things to be thankful for!

Most of all, I want to thank each of you who take time out of your busy schedules to read my ramblings. While I know I'm not always the most gifted or most eloquent, I do hope I've been able to inform you and entertain you from time to time.

I wish each of you a Thanksgiving Holiday filled with family, friends, love, and laughter!

--Edited to add: It is now the day before Thanksgiving and I found another thing to be thankful for...the ability to bake pies and do a voice gig at the same time! What a life!

**Be sure to check out a new voice over website full of wonderful information... John Florian was kind enough to feature my blog on his site!

Monday, November 12, 2007


I have a fear. I suffer from stage fright. I always have. My mother has forever said it takes me a while to settle into any situation. Many would be surprised to learn of this fear considering I’ve spent my entire adult life around radio and television, but alas this fear exists. In the end, it all boils down to one simple thing…I have a fear of rejection.

The other day I was reading a blog post from my friend Brian Haymond. He was talking about his fear of live VO sessions. Brian and I have spoken about this before, and I always found it funny. Why would someone as talented and charismatic as Brian fear having someone listen to him perform? Then I turned a similar question on myself.

What about the stage and auditioning for voice acting jobs cause me to be nervous? The answer is that I worry I am ‘not good enough’. 10 years ago, my then agent told me I would book on an average of 1 out of every 50 auditions. Recently, I read that statistic was now 1 out of every 400. I’m not sure which is accurate, or if either of them are, but the point is simple…actors hear the word ‘no’ A LOT. A WHOLE DING DANG LOT! Being told ‘no’ 399 times in a row can force you to question yourself and your abilities.

So, how to conquer a fear of rejection or a fear of not succeeding? As we all know, one must always confront their fears head on. Brian is getting over his mild phobia with help from his friends like Bob Souer. As for myself, a few weeks ago I decided to take a theatre class. In my first performance, I had to stand in front of the class and fold laundry as though no one were watching me. It forced me to confront my physiological responses to nerves. I had to control my pounding heart and shaking hands all while doing a very mundane task in front of an audience. A wonderful exercise everyone should try once! Our instructor, Martin, explained that we must all find a way to control the physical as well as the mental involuntary responses. There is not a single solution for all; we must each find the solution for ourselves.

I’ve been trying a few new techniques to calm my nerves. The first is my new mantra, ‘what is the worst that can happen?’ Truly think about this. If I don’t book an audition, so what? Maybe I’ll book the next one, or maybe that client will decide to use me for another project. I’ve been able to pay my bills every month since starting VO full-time, so I know I won’t go hungry. Plus, my family will love me the same if I book 5 jobs a day, or zero jobs in a year.

My next technique is to breathe deeply. My body has a very definite physiological response to nerves. The muscles in my chest tighten making my breathing shallow and causing my hands to tremble. If I take several deep breaths and shake out my hands, this helps tremendously. Plus, they say it is good for your overall well being to breathe deeply several times a day.

We will all have to deal with fear and nerves throughout our entire lives. How we respond to them is what truly matters. Take a moment to consider your own fear. What is at the root of that fear…money, health, rejection? If you can identify your fear, you can begin to control it. The best actors find ways to use their fears to their advantage. So, what can you do with yours?

Finally, it is important to remember Rome wasn’t built in one day. It will take repeated confrontations to truly conquer your fear. However, if it is your life’s passion at stake, then it is worth overcoming any obstacle.

As a side note, I'd like to thank all of our Veterans and armed forces currently serving at home and abroad. We celebrate YOU this Veterans' Day for your hard work and continued sacrifice.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

When Is Enough, Enough?

I've heard many voice actors talk about the point where they are 'finished' purchasing equipment, 'done' with their website, 'complete' in their advertising. In my own VO career, the idea of finally ending the spending streak, and beginning the complete earning streak seems simply glorious! In reality? The spending should never end.

Now, there should come a point in any business that the outgoing is considerably less than the incoming. Otherwise, why work at all? However, to truly achieve success, one must be prepared to constantly move with the times. This means updating equipment as new technology becomes available, changing your website on a regular basis to keep things fresh, and promoting your services as often as possible.

It can become overwhelming and exhausting to think of all the things you'd like to do with your home studio, the classes and seminars you'd love to attend, the postcards you'd love to mail out, etc, etc. The key to voice over is learning to take things one step at a time.

A few months ago, I made the decision to start a 'need' list, and a 'want' list for my voice over company. This came after one particularly stressful day in which I felt I should purchase an isolation booth for my studio along with a new computer monitor, studio speakers, ISDN, and more. I looked into the price of each of these items and realized I was being ridiculous. I am often complimented on how quiet my studio is, and how clean my mic sounds. Why on earth would I need to change this now? By creating 2 lists, I was able to separate the things that truly are needed, and the things that I would love to have down the road.

An enormous amount of stress was released when looking at my lists, the 'needs' were easy and relatively inexpensive. I 'needed' to make a few changes to my website. I decided to make the bee smaller, add a FAQ's page, and put 'The Buzz' on the front page. It took my web designer all of about 2 hours to make the changes. Easy! I also 'needed' to create some postcards for a Christmas mailing I wanted to do. I thought about hiring someone to do this for me, then realized I could easily create the cards myself for a very small fee- done! The postcards have been mailed, and I've already benefited greatly from the effort.

My 'want' list turned out to be a bit more lengthy than the 'needs'. What I realized, however, is that I have a lifetime to obtain these items- there is absolutely no rush! There was one 'want' I decided to go ahead and indulge in. I purchased a MicPort Pro to take with me on vacation. Since I do a bit of traveling- often by plane, I was looking to get rid of my current audio interface in exchange for something much smaller and easy to carry. It was a great decision, and will come in very handy over the months ahead.

If you find yourself overwhelmed by all of the expenses associated with voice over, I recommend you also make a list. Are voice lessons more important than that new mic, are postcards better than purchasing more CD's, should you attend a seminar or buy speakers? These decisions will be different for each of us.

It is important to realize spending is a must, where the money goes is a choice. Write it down, think it over. You'll be glad you did!

Be sure to check out this month's Voice Over V-Zine! Julie Williams was very kind to ask me to contribute an article about voicing anime. You'll find it a few pages in. Be sure to subscribe to the V-Zine, there is always lots of great VO info!

Monday, October 29, 2007

A Long Time Away

Phew! It feels like ages since I've written a new post for this blog! When I first made the commitment to a voice over blog, I promised myself I would post at least once a week. Well, sometimes life makes decisions for you. The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of family, friends, and vacations.

A couple of weeks ago, we were visited by some of our family from up north. It was a great visit, filled with a trip to our favorite vineyard, and some dancing to Blue Grass for the Harvest Festival.

For the last week, my husband and I have enjoyed an incredibly relaxing vacation in Burnsville, NC. We hiked, fished, shopped, slept, and did a lot of breathing in of the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains. As you may or may not know, I am never more than a few steps away from my beloved there were over 2 GB of photos and videos from the trip! I picked out a few of my favorites and turned them into a slide show on my MacBook. The site can be found by clicking here.

During our vacation, we were Blessed with some much needed rain. The Carolinas have been in an exceptional drought, and we received about 3 inches while we were in the mountains. It's the only time that I will be thankful my vacation was rained out! Since there were plenty of days filled with blue skies, we decided to spend our rain day driving down to Fletcher, NC for a tour of ProComm Studios.

Many of you are familiar with this incredible studio, and some of you may even be on the talent roster. I had submitted my demos a few months ago, so I was already familiar with a few of the kind folks there. Dan Friedman was generous enough to offer to take us on a tour of the studio. Plus, he even let me bring my dog Macy so I wouldn't have to leave her alone in the cabin!

We arrived at 4:30 on Wednesday for our tour. Dan was as nice in person as he was over the phone. It's always a pleasure to meet people who share your passion for voice over, production, and technology. Dan has many years of experience with all 3- and he really knows his stuff.

Our first impression of the ProComm Studios was how big it was!! I've never been to a production facility that was actually built from the ground up to accommodate studios and equipment. Most studios are adapted to a building that was already in existence. ProComm has numerous recording spaces to accommodate multiple projects. They have some of the best mics and recording equipment around. It was really incredible!

The best part was meeting all the staff. Everyone was so laid back and professional, they instantly made us feel welcome. I finally met Bob Peck, who did my line test with me a few weeks ago. He was as nice in person as he had been over ISDN, which was no surprise!

We had a funny moment when Dan pointed out I had been introducing my dog to everyone as though she were my child. Yeah, I'm one of those creepy dog husband is still teasing me over that one!

Overall, it was a great week, made greater by a visit to a studio most will never see (as the majority of their talent work over ISDN). A gigantic thank you to Dan and the entire staff for taking 2 hours out of your day to spend with me and my family! We are hoping to return the favor someday by taking Dan's family on a tour of Chris's TV station (I hear one of Dan's sons may be an aspiring weatherman!).

The good news is that I've stored up 3 weeks worth of blog posts in the back of my brain- so I'm looking forward to getting back into the swing of things. Thank you for sticking with me, and taking time out of your day to be here. Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 8, 2007

Praying For Rain

Here in Charlotte, NC we are now in what is known as an 'exceptional drought'. It is the worst drought anyone I know has ever been through in Charlotte, and 'exceptional' is the highest label any drought can achieve. We are on a major water restriction, meaning absolutely no sprinklers allowed lest you want a ticket and a fine. You can water your potted plants from the hose, but that is it.

I am an avid gardener. Having my hands in the dirt for 9 months is what gets me through the 3 months of hard winter. This has been a heartbreaking fall for me. No cabbage, onion, or peas in the veggie garden; no violas or pansies at the front door, no mums near the window. To make matters worse, we are having record breaking high temps this week. A sad fall indeed.

Today I was at our neighborhood nursery looking at a corn plant for the corner of my living room. I've wanted one for some time, and figured this would lift my spirits of not being able to enjoy the outdoors. As I wondered throughout the store, I noticed the vegetable plants were on sale for 69 cents each. I can't remember ever seeing vegetables that cheap! Even the decorative kale and cabbage were on sale for $2 a pot! Goodness!

Of course, the reason for these prices is obvious, no one wants to buy plants they can't water! This started me thinking...

I've spoken with several of my fellow voice actors and many of us experienced our own drought this summer. There were considerably less VO opportunities and jobs than in other months. In fact, I know several whose work drought has continued into the month of October.

I began to wonder if any of my fellow actors had considered their own version of a vegetable sale. Is it reasonable in the midst of a drought to offer your services at a lower price?

There are many positives and negatives to this solution. The positives include having an excuse to e-mail your regular clients, offer a 'special', and remind them you are available. The negatives include possibly locking yourself into a lower rate for good.

In business, each of us make decisions as to what works best during a drought. Do you conserve your voice and wait for the rains to come?

Unlike the vegetables, voice overs are not perishable. I did not lower my prices during my VO drought, I waited for the work to return. There are no right or wrong answers to these questions.

All I know is when it comes to work and flowers, I'll just keep praying for rain...

Monday, October 1, 2007

A Different Type of Acting

On Saturday, I attended an all-day workshop taught by famed casting director Jackie Burch. I've linked to Jackie's IMDb page so you can see her massive amount of movie credits.

Jackie is moving to Wilmington, NC and wanted to see an array of talents that she may one day cast in TV, film, etc. Unfortunately, I had absolutely no idea this was what would take place! I honestly thought this was just an acting class that would contain a few students and we would learn some beginning techniques. Imagine my surprise when I arrived and about 100 were in attendance! Oh, and did I mention they were obviously experienced? [Que nerves please]

While I've been in a couple of small budget movies, acted in a few school plays, and host infomercials...I really do not know a ton about acting. (Voice acting, sure, just not much about acting in film.) Jackie answered many questions and then explained we would be broken into pairs and given a scene to go over. We would then act out the scene for Jackie to review. What was fantastic about this, is that we would be able to see every critique and learn from them as well!

My partner's name was Brian and we were given a cute scene in which I was a waitress and he had to awkwardly hit on me. When it was our turn, Jackie began by critiquing our headshots and resumes. She said she liked my headshot a lot, but was disappointed I hadn't attached a resume to the back. Duh! What was I thinking? I know better than that. Oh well, she asked me about my acting experience, and I told her I was a full-time voice actor. She then had me do the voice of a 5 year old girl in front of the class. If I wasn't nervous by then, I was petrified after that display! When you spend all of your time in small, sound proof booths...performing character voices in front of a room-full is quite an experience!

We made it through our scene despite my shaking hands and pounding heart. Jackie was incredibly kind. She told me I had good comedic timing, a fun and quirky vibe, and if I could learn not to bug out my eyes while acting I would be set!

After everyone finished their scene, Jackie had us come up one by one and act out a script with a line reader. At the end of the scene, she would give a few critiques and then say whether that particular actor would have received a call back or not. Fortunately, I had worn out my nerves with my first scene, so I was good to go. I gave it my all...and Jackie said I would have received a call back!

All in all, I had a glorious time. I learned a ton and made some new friends. After class, I performed a few voices for Jackie and even sang part of a song from the Little Mermaid (by request)! Jackie encouraged me to give acting a go, take a few more lessons, and start going out on auditions. It's advice I will take to heart!

Now, I don't want this post to only be about me, especially considering how much I learned! Here are a few things Jackie taught that are relevant to any business...

1. Never lie on a resume. If it says you know sign language, you better know sign language. It can cost many people time and money if you aren't truthful on your resume. There were several people who weren't able to do what their resumes said they could. Don't put 'good at impressions' if you can only do one impression! When you are able to back up your claims, it instills trust in those who hire you.

2. Find what makes you interesting and showcase it. Whether with your headshot or on your voice demo, find a way to stand out and be intriguing. Jackie's favorite headshots were not the ones with big happy smiles, they were the ones that told a story. The pictures that made you want to learn more stood out from the rest. It's the same with your demo...what can you do that no one else can? Why are you interesting? Showcase it!

3. Don't be afraid to be different. When watching the same scene performed over 100 times, there were only about 5 that really stood out. Those were the ones that brought something different to the table. When auditioning, do what feels natural, but bring something special to the table. In this day and age with voice over, we are taught there is a right way and a wrong way to read copy. Dare to be different, it just might get you the job!

I truly enjoyed my day with Jackie. It was refreshing to see someone so successful be so encouraging. There are many lessons from this weekend that will stay with me for quite some time!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

A Nice Long Drive

Several weeks ago I signed up for the Nancy Wolfson and Anna Vocino telesiminar Acting For Advertising Part 2 (after learning so much from Part 1). I was especially looking forward to it since I had a private session with Nancy earlier that day and knew our lesson would continue through the night. Of course, life can be unpredictable and I ended up missing the telesiminar. A friend of ours gave birth to a healthy and beautiful baby and that took precedent. Fortunately, I received the mp3 in my inbox a few days later.

Again, life is unpredictable and I have been so busy, I hadn't had time to listen to the mp3. It was starting to bother me, as I knew I had a wealth of information at my fingertips and no spare time to reach over and grab it! I downloaded the mp3 along with the Voice Over Experts podcast at into my iPod, just waiting for a few free hours to listen (I have been anxious to listen to the podcast, but hadn't had the chance yet).

Yesterday I had an infomercial shoot in Florence, SC. It was a 2 hour drive both ways, and you better believe I had my iPod in hand! After several weeks, I was finally able to listen to the telesiminar, and I wasn't disappointed! If you have the time, and want to learn valuable information about voice over, I highly recommend both Acting for Advertising 1 and 2. You can purchase the mp3's at

At the beginning of part 2, Nancy talks about a private session she had taught earlier in the day. As you can figure out, that was the session I had with Nancy (another great lesson I was able to implement immediately into my work).

Also, be sure to subscribe to the Voice Over Experts podcast. There is a ton of information from successful and professional voice talent that would normally cost you a fortune to learn...and it is all free!

On another note, I want to thank everyone who voted in the Simpson's Sound-a-Like contest. I was very pleased to learn I won in the 'Lisa Simpson' category! Now I just have to figure out what to spend my Amazon gift certificate on!

Finally, in regards to a previous blog post about working with a cold, I wanted to point out the importance of having a good allergist on hand this time of year. If you are like me, allergies can be a killer! This year has been especially bad in the Carolinas because of the severe drought we are experiencing. I'm on 2 different allergy medications and just made an appointment with my allergist for a follow up. It is vitally important that you take care of yourself, as coughing and throat clearing can damage your vocal chords. Plus, what director wants to listen to you blowing your nose during a session? This is just a follow-up reminder that your health can make or break your business when you are a voice actor.

I'm off to download some more great podcasts for my trip to Wilmington this weekend for a top secret audition...fingers crossed!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

It's A Matter of Health

Possibly one of the most important aspects of being a voice actor is maintaining a consistent sound. Your clients need to know they can depend on you to deliver the moment they need you. Obviously, the way to remain reliable is to stay as healthy as possible.

I'm a bit of a health nut. No, I do not work out at the gym nearly as much as I should, but I do take care of myself. I get regular check-ups, plenty of rest, and maintain a healthy diet.

Occasionally, however, a bug can sneak up and bite you when you least expect it. I spent the last week with the mother of all colds. The minute I felt it coming on, I went to the doctor. She prescribed some antibiotics and lots of rest. Unfortunately, it didn't help. This is one I've just had to wait out.

First, I completely lost my voice (it hasn't happened in years, and the timing was horrific). Once the voice came back, the coughing started and there was no way I was going to get any work done. I couldn't hear, couldn't talk, couldn't sleep...I was completely plugged up and miserable.

The first day my voice returned was Wednesday. The timing was nice considering I had a morning session with Nancy Wolfson and 3 commercials to record for DR Horton. I barely made it through both (a special thank you to Nancy for rearranging our lesson to something that was vocally 'quiet').

Thursday, the cold came back with a vengeance, and today is the first day I've begun to feel almost human again.

I'm not writing this blog looking for sympathy (although I've earned it after this week!). I write because we are headed straight for cold and flu season and it is likely each of you will deal with this at some point.

Since this is my first major cold in quite a while, I wasn't sure how to handle my business. It turns out people can be incredibly patient if you are upfront and honest. For each job that came in, I was open about my inability to record. I asked if it was possible to wait until my cold had passed. In each case, it was just fine. I didn't lose any work throughout the week (phew!). I did miss out on some killer auditions, but I just have to let that go. What is meant to be will be, right?

Remember as the cold months approach that you need to take care of yourself. Wash your hands several times throughout the day, get plenty of sleep, and take your vitamins! If a cold hits, don't panic- your clients will understand.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

One More Week...

A couple of weeks ago posted details about a new contest. They were asking for impressions of our favorite Simpson's characters. Never one to shy away from a chance to do my 'Lisa', I entered the contest.

I was pleasantly surprised to find I made it to the finals! You can listen to all the Simpson entries and vote for your favorites here. You do not have to be a member of the site to vote.

The deadline for voting is September more week!

Monday, September 3, 2007

Wanna Get Into VO?

My friends Bobbin Beam, DB Cooper, and I were recently discussing what the best advice was that we could give to VO hopefulls. We each get several e-mails a week asking how to break into the business, and it turns out all 3 of us have a pre-written letter we like to send to those wanting to learn more. Bobbin was kind enough to print these letters on her blog.

Part I can be found here.

Part II can be read here.

And finally...Part III.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Through The Cat's Eyes

My dear friend Bob Souer had a wonderfully profound thought today. It involved one of my cats, Storm, and his aversion to his litterbox. Huh?? OK, let's see if I can start from the beginning...

A few weeks ago, I asked my on-line community of fellow voice actors to help me with a problem I was having...(FYI...this long story has been slightly edited from its original version)

"My dear cat Storm (the one I call Norman)is an alpha male. He and I are incredibly attached to one another and he tends to act out when I leave town. Over a year ago we brought home our puppy. Storm preceded to 'mark' everything that belonged to the dog and eventually the dog herself.

So, I went to the vet. Had him checked- he's fine. She recommended vaccinating him and letting him be indoor/outdoor (I don't vaccinate my animals normally- don't believe in it). We did that. I put pheromone plug-ins throughout the house (at $50 a pop!). We had all carpets cleaned and neutralized to take out the previous odors. We got rid of the large plants that had been marked. We also implemented an 'alpha ritual'...Storm gets fed first, gets treats first, gets pet first...etc. Honestly, we've done everything I can think to do.

Last week, we went out of town. We closed all closet doors and left the cats (there are 2 of them) well cared for. However, when we returned- we discovered Storm had taken out his aggressions for me leaving him on our bed. All over our bed. 4 times. It's bad.

The delimna:

I adore this cat. The vet told me I may need to put him down. That is not an option.

I know one of you has to have experienced something like this and may have some great advice. I don't know what else we can do to fix the problem. I also know I can't have my house destroyed by 1 cat."

Thanks to the advice of my wonderful friends, I found a great holistic vet that helped me solve the problem. Here is the update I posted today..

"I took Storm to a holistic vet. They said there was nothing wrong with him medically, but that he did obviously have a ton of anxiety. She told me that more often than not a cat's anxiety can be linked to his litter box(es).

So we mapped out my house and where the litter boxes were (I had 2 at the time, one for each cat). Both were on the first floor, were covered litter boxes with liners and wheat litter.

She said most cats hate covered litter boxes, that it is not natural to urinate in a cave. Also, since we have a dog who likes to ambush the cats...the vet said it was causing anxiety to exit the boxes with no visual of where the dog was. She also said many cats don't like the feel of liners when they are scratching around in the litter.

She asked me where Storm had marked...was it consistent? Yes- it was almost always upstairs in our bedroom. She mentioned that was most likely where another litter box needed to be. It works out good for us, because there is a good space for a box in the master bathroom that the dog can't get to (she's too small).

The vet said to add a 3rd litterbox, uncovered, and with clay litter. Oh my! It works! That is obvioulsy the prefered box now. So, we removed the liners from the downstairs boxes (and were shocked to find they are actually easier to clean!) Storm is also spending nights outside roaming. While he doesn't seem to leave the backyard much, it still gives him his freedom.

Finally, she said to get rid of anything he had marked, thus eliminating 'old habits'. We boarded him while we were on vacation last week and it went great! He was happy to come home and slid right back into his routine without taking 'revenge' on us.

FYI- not one mark since I first started this thread. I guess ya learn something new everyday! Who knew litterboxes were so important??"

OK, I know what you are this a post about pets or voice over? Well, it's both. I'm posting to help educate those that may be in similar situations and thinking of getting rid of, or finding a new home for your cat. There just may be a solution that will save your cat AND your marraige :)

I'm also posting this so I can copy down a comment from my friend Bob...


The first thing that popped into my pea-sized brain in answer to this question is: think about what sort of impression it makes on you when you’re visiting someone and they don’t have a clean, tidy bathroom for you to use? I mean, I know cats aren’t human (I’m sure they’re convinced they are the superior species!); but it seems reasonable that this kind of situation would be important to every creature.

I suppose the larger application is that when we do things for our own convenience, we’re seldom serving the needs of (clients? family? friends?) others."

I am proud to say, for once, I wasn't the one that found the correlation between my life and my job...Bob did it for me. Thanks Bob, I couldn't have said it better myself!

Make sure to check out Bob's Blog about this story...priceless!

Monday, August 20, 2007


I made a very dumb decision when I was planning my wedding a year and a half ago. I decided to make every centerpiece, bridesmaid's gift, and favor by hand. 27 table centerpieces, 150 favors, 4 bridesmaid's gifts, and one gift for my mom. By hand. My own two hands.

It seemed brilliant at the time (many months before the wedding). It would save us money, it would add a personal touch, and besides- I love to make things! Genius!

4 months out I began creating the centerpieces. They would be hurricane lamps decorated with ribbon that matched our ceremony colors. Of course, I couldn't just tie a silly ribbon around a lamp! Oh no! I decided I should add flowers and pearls, and rhinestones, and 'I love you' charms. They should be sewn together so they could last forever! It didn't matter that my back was killing me and I had multiple burns from the hot glue, sore fingers from the needle...I was doing something important.

The favors each had little hearts tied with red ribbon around them. The bridesmaid's gifts were picture frames with pictures of us as children and as adults. Not just any old frame- each was handmade with embellishments and mementos of our lives together. My mother received an entire scrapbook from my birth to my wedding...showing what an incredible mom she was!

If you haven't figured it out yet...I am a moron. Plain and over the top self inflicting perfectionist.

A few weeks ago, we had a yard sale. On a table covered with cloth set 15 hurricane lamps. The hand-made centerpieces for our wedding. My time, my sweat, my stress...for $2 each. I sold 2 of them. At one point, I tried to give them one wanted them. They are now sitting in boxes in my garage.

I've been doing quite a bit of reading lately, and noticed several of my fellow voice actors (including myself) are doing to their careers what I did to my lanterns. Perhaps I should say 'overdoing'.

It is easy to fall into a pattern when you work for yourself. We each want to succeed, and it can be hard to know when to walk away. In the downtime between voice jobs, I have a tendency to still sit in my studio on the computer. I read the voice actor forums (there are almost too many to keep up with!), I listen to auditions from other voice actors that have been posted online, I read blogs, I research the market and make sure my demos are in every appropriate location, I listen to every demo at the top agencies (oh yes, there are a few I even know by heart), and I brainstorm ways to improve my business and my acting.

Obviously, this is what makes me great at marketing and it also makes me a better voice actor. The question is...when do I just let it go and trust I've done everything I can do for the day?

I've been thinking a lot about those lamps. One sits above my computer- another to my right. One in the guest room and two in my bedroom. They are beautiful and would likely sell for a fortune in the right store. Sometimes I wonder though...did anyone see them at my wedding? Were they really just for me? Did those pearls really need to be sewn to the ribbon, or was the ribbon just fine on it's own?

This last weekend, I walked away from my studio. I went out with a girlfriend and tasted some new wines. I cleaned my house from top to bottom. I spent time in my gardens pruning the flowers. Sure, I checked my e-mails and even recorded a couple of auditions, but I didn't worry if I had missed something. I didn't spend all of my time sewing pearls- I stopped and looked at the big picture. I remembered what mattered.

Success isn't success if all of your time is spent getting there. Success is defined by the person you are at the end of the day. (I think someone famous said that once)

If this is the job we are each meant to have- the little embellishments won't be necessary. Our work will speak for itself. So, stop worrying and go enjoy the party!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Some Bees and Some Changes

When you visit our home, one of the first things you will notice is that my husband and I love to garden. Actually, my husband is slightly more obsessed with the grass while I divide my time between the vegetable, perennial, and butterfly gardens. I find incredible enjoyment in gardening organically, it is quite a challenge to keep the pests away and the plants thriving.

I often find correlations between the work I put into my garden and the work I put into my voice over business. These are two areas of my life I am equally passionate about. I credit my voice coach, Nancy Wolfson, for finding a way to blend the two.

This weekend I was finally able to unveil my new website...

The concept was developed many months ago after Nancy came across a picture in a magazine. It had beautiful yellow flowers and a honey bee. I agreed that it captured my hobby with the flowers; my young, fresh voice with the color yellow; and the bee...well, that was just for fun.

I was fortunate to meet Jason from Village Green Studios who designed the site.

Now the story...(you knew there would be one!)

If you've ever worked in a garden, you know how docile bees are. They almost never sting, and they are extremely beneficial to the plants. I have forever been fascinated with bees. My poor husband has had to sit through countless slide shows of the many close-ups I've taken of busy bees. I've always felt a strong working relationship between myself and the bees, we both have jobs to do in the gardens.

This past week, Jason had finished the initial design of the site and wanted to get my thoughts on it. I loved everything, but wasn't 100% sold on the roaming bee. I decided it might be wise to go outside, water the gardens, and think things through. My time in the fresh air helped me decide the bee should probably go, as some folks might find it annoying.

I came inside, ate some cereal, put a load of laundry in the wash. and came upstairs to type out the e-mail to Jason. As I leaned back in my office chair, I felt a needle prick in my spine. It took me a few seconds to realize I had just been stung. The poor bee had become entangled in my shirt and was defending himself. In all the years of my life, I have never been stung by a bee...once by a wasp...but never a bee.

Currently, the house next door to us is up for sale. It is my sincere hope that no one was there on this particular morning. I am quite sure I have never ripped an article of clothing off my body that fast in my life. Off goes the shirt...out come words that would make a sailor blush. If you've never been really hurts! I fly into the bathroom for a cold wet towel to hold over the growing welt on my back. My dog, in her endless fascination of all things loud, began clawing frantically at my leg. It was not a pretty site.

The good news is that I am not allergic to bees, and that the bee did not die from the sting. The better news is that he stung some sense into me. The website bee stays...and I have a greater appreciation for him than I ever could have imagined!

As you look around the new site, and the new blog layout...feel free to offer any suggestions on how I can improve them!

For now...I couldn't bee happier :)

Monday, August 6, 2007

It Ain't Luck Baby

Last week was my mother's...uh, 39th...birthday. We threw a surprise party for her in Texas that was an absolute blast, and we were able to stay for a few extra days and spend some time with the family.

During one of the conversations I had with my mom, it came up how fortunate I've been with some of the publicity I've received regarding my voice over business. I said I have been lucky. My mother said luck comes to those who work the hardest.

Have I ever mentioned how brilliant my mom is?

Another brilliant woman in my life is my voice and business coach, Nancy Wolfson.

Last week I booked my first gig with The Big Fish Voice Company. It wasn't a huge part, but was still a blast to record. It was a couple of lines in a Qwest spot as a teenage girl. They wanted to record the commercial via ISDN.

My house is not ISDN capable, but I regularly use a local studio for this purpose called the GroundCrew Studios. Some of the greatest people in Charlotte work in that studio and it is always a joy to visit. While I was there recording for Qwest, I was asked by the GroundCrew to also help them out on a couple of local radio commercials. Obviously, I was happy to oblige.

Afterward, I was e-mailing with Nancy and casually mentioned the situation. With her permission, here was Nancy's response.

"It is so cool that while at the studio they had you do two more commercials - totally what I tell people all the time about how work begets work - not just on a spiritual level, not just on a confidence level that comes thru the reads, but also on a PRACTICAL level, too."

I say it all the time, and I mean it...if we are only as great as those we surround ourselves with, well then I'm pretty phenominal!

Thanks mom, thanks Nancy!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

It Ebbs And It Flows

2007 will be my first full year as a full-time voice actor. I believe it was a wise and wonderful decision for me to take the plunge. I have experienced the joys of being a self-starter and the disappointments of vast competition. There have been chances for me to voice incredible projects and a few not-so exciting vocal moments that at least paid the bills. Times I can't believe how much 'project X' is paying, and times I've had to negotiate for every dollar.

I own my own business...therefore, every success is mine...and every disappointment is mine.

In any business, there are seasonal 'ebbs and flows', certain times when business slows down or speeds up. This will be the year that I figure out when my 'down times' will be. It is vitally important to learn, as it will determine my earning and spending habits for years to come.

July has been my slowest month yet. I have agonized over it, questioning, 'is it me?' Am I not marketing enough, not practicing enough...not- 'sitting at my computer as many hours straight as possible trying to find the next great gig'- enough?

My husband asked me recently, "Why don't you ask some of your friends if they are also experiencing a slow month?" My answer? No one actually admits they aren't working every minute of the day.

This morning I was perusing the message boards of a voice site that recently made some drastic changes. There were a large number of actors worrying about the sudden decrease in jobs and revenue. Most were blaming this particular site for the decrease, but it made me wonder...could this be the average yearly 'ebb' for voice actors?

It certainly makes sense! Most producers / advertisers / agents / etc use the summer months to vacation, July being one of the highest 'travel' months. Even though July is a ratings month for TV stations, it is not looked at as a serious determiner in overall success. Typically, July is the worst month for TV programming, the stations save their best for fall.

Since most of my voice work is for animation, children's programming, TV and radio really does make sense that I would experience a major slow down. Even my most regular clients seem to have taken a break! Actors who regularly voice audiobooks or voice messaging may not experience slow months, but for the rest of us it is inevitable.

As a voice actor, I could certainly throw up my hands, go spend my days in the mountains hiking (where I sometimes prefer to spend my weekends) and decide to also take a break. However, I have decided to quit worrying and use this month as a much needed time to work on my business packaging.

Already I have been working on updating my animation demo, as well as adding a radio imaging demo to my repertoire. I have begun working with a graphic designer to re-do my personal website. I have taken time to go over my books and make sure everything is financially in order, and I am continuing my lessons with Nancy Wolfson, trying to become the best voice actor I can.

However, next week I believe I will take a much needed mini-break. At least one day I plan to spend getting my hair trimmed and a getting a therapeutic massage. Hey- it's summer...if everyone else can slow down...then so can I!

It will be interesting to see when the 'flow' of business returns!

[It occurred to me that I have mentioned my updated animation demo twice without posting it... Let me know what you think!]

Monday, July 16, 2007

A Special Thank You

As I went to log into this site to type a new blog...a news flash jumped onto my screen...Jessica Simpson now has a swimsuit collection. It occurred to me, I hope one day I am successful enough in my job that I can randomly choose other careers to dapple in just because it seems fun.

But I digress...

I've had a flurry of excitement the past 2 days. No, I haven't been cast in any new great shows, and I haven't been hired for some huge commercial gig. Yet, I have been quite busy.

Forgive me for the lack of details with this story, I hope you will bear with me through this. A friend of mine, that I have not known very long, contacted me last week. It seems she had dinner with a voice acting idol of mine at a charity event recently. Someone associated with my idol will be in town this evening and my friend wanted to pass along one of my demo CD's.

Now, I have several people in this business I look up to. Many I stand in awe of on a regular basis. However, only 3 actually drop me to my knees in hope that I will one day be half as great. This person is one of them.

Last night as I went to burn my demos to CD- nothing was good enough! I recently hired a graphic designer to create a new website and demo package for me, but that is weeks from being completed. I know it doesn't really matter, this person only needs a voice sample and will understand my lack of pizazz...and yet...I was suddenly so nervous!

My character demo wasn't good enough. Sure, it's been good enough to get me agents and jobs...but it wasn't good enough for the small possibility that my voice acting idol just might hear it.

So, I set out to recreate...and recreate...and recreate. I very literally worked on this demo up to the minute I had to burn it to disc and pass it along. I am happy with what I did, but still envision many changes down the road. I want to compete with the best. I want my demos to sound as good as the demos on the 'Big Agency' sites.

As I look around me, there are DVD's of past shows and CD's of past work scattered around the room. I ripped audio I had recorded until I could rip no more.

Honestly, there is no real point to this post, only an opportunity to thank the 3 people who were and are willing to listen to my work and offer honest feedback. Brian Haymond, Bob Souer, and DB Cooper. I respect you each immensely, and thank you for your friendship, time, willingness, and wise words.

My advice to other voice actors? Find great people you trust to offer professional and honest opinions. Listen to demos from other actors making the big bucks and try to be competitive...and finally, take any chance (no matter how small) to be heard by the best.

Monday, July 9, 2007

It Comes Full Circle

I was conversing over e-mail with my dear friend Brian Haymond about a project I did recently and he said I should post the story on my blog. He thought it might help to inspire other voice actors, especially those new to the business that are just going out for their first jobs.

Several months ago, I was called in for a group voice over session at a local studio. There were 3 ladies (including me) and one man (the owner of the studio) that were doing a 'cheer' as though we were at a wedding reception. The client was on a phone patch in New York. We had to do this cheer many, many times as the client wasn't happy with what she was hearing. Finally, she asked, "Is it possible for the girl with the really high pitched voice to sit out?"

Of course, I knew she meant me as the other ladies had those beautiful chocolate voices everyone loves. So, I raised my hand, said 'that's me' and sat down. As everyone else looked at me with apologetic faces, I laughed it off saying, 'this voice has paid my bills for years- no harm done'. I didn't pout, I didn't get upset, I just laughed and saw the humor in it. (Of course, knowing I got paid either way didn't hurt!)

Afterwards, I mentioned the story to a few friends, got it off my chest, and forgot all about it.

Fast forward to last week when I was called into the same studio to do a voice over job. As it turns out, the same client from that session had written a radio commercial that was tailored to my voice! It was a character read, where I was the voice of a penny in a man's dream. She said she wrote the spot after hearing me in that session months ago!

In this business, we always hear how important it is to be kind to everyone you work with. You never know where your next job is coming from or who your next dear friend may be. We deal with a lot of rejection...that's why it is such a competitive industry. The more time you can spend laughing...even at yourself...the greater the 'vibes' will be that you send into the universe. At some point, it will come full circle.

Oh, for those interested...this is me as a penny :)

Friday, July 6, 2007

Get Ready to Pitch!

60 Second Pitch at

I received an e-mail from Stephanie at telling me about a cool contest they are having...

"We're having a contest at starting this Friday called "The 60 SecondPitch Contest" and thought you might be interested in sharing this informationwith your audience.

There will be 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place prizes worth over $4000.00 and this contest will prove to be one of the most exciting and educational events that the voice over industry has seen in quite some time.

Entrants can be from any niche of the audio field (voice actors, podcasters,voice over coaches, voice talent agents, etc.) and are invited to submit an MP360 second pitch about who they are, what they do and how their business can serve others."

Sounds like fun! To learn here.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Just Checking In

I wish I had some incredible wisdom this week, or at least some great analogy regarding life and voice over. Unfortunately, right now I'm feeling a bit brain dead!

I don't have much time to write, as I'm due to call Nancy Wolfson in half an hour. This is my second session with Nancy (an amazing voice over coach!) and I'm looking forward to learning more. Hopefully my head can fit a few more tidbits in today.

Last week I was in Dallas, TX working on a great (top secret) project. I was able to visit with several fellow voice actors, some of which I hadn't seen in years! What a great time. I was also able to lend my voice to a few very minor characters in a couple of new anime being recorded right now. Outside of work, it was a chance to spend time with my family which is always a blessing.

Upon returning, I literally had to rush from the plane in order to make it to a recording session on time for a children's video. In 2 days, I did 3 different narrations as a teenager, a British nanny, and a thought bubble. Man, I love my job!!

Yesterday, I spent 4 1/2 hours in Florence, SC shooting an infomercial for Auddie Brown. They have a new format with the show and it took a while to figure out all the logistics. I'm still tired.

This morning, a much anticipated package arrived on my doorstep. My Lawson L47 FET!!! Woohoo! I tore into the package only to realize I have the wrong cable to hook it up. After my session with Nancy- I will be headed to Guitar Center to buy the right one.

Then...we're in business baby! Don't cha just love new stuff?

OK, time to go grab the phone!

Thursday, June 21, 2007


I recently installed a private phone line in my studio. It was for a variety of reasons, mainly I never seemed to be where my cell phone was and kept missing calls. Now I have a land-line with a very loud ringer and voice mail.

After having the line activated, I set out to buy a new phone. When I found the perfect phone, I eagerly raced home to try it out. However, when I tried to open the package I absolutely could not get through the layers of plastic! They had been glued together around the phone, I'm assuming to keep thieves at bay. Unfortunately, it was also keeping me at bay! I grabbed a pair of scissors which I promptly ruined trying to cut through the thick plastic, then I resorted to trying to tear through the packaging with all my might.

After an hour, I finally got to the phone inside. Mind you, I was at this point 1) mad 2) really mad 3) hot and 4) covered from wrist to elbow in cuts and scrapes.

At last I could plug in my new phone and give it a try. Once it was properly plugged in, I gave it the required 12 hours to charge, and awoke the next morning to make my first call.


The line was filled with static and hissing. I called the phone company sure they had somehow messed up and discovered it wasn't them at all. It was my new phone. It was a dud.

In my haste to buy a phone, I did not do my research. I went a cheaper, easier route with a flashy package.

In the end, I returned the phone, did some thorough research and went with one that was a bit pricier but ultimately was clear as a bell. No difficult packaging to get through, no cuts, no scrapes, no anger.

The same can apply to us in our own voice over business. If your packaging is difficult to get through...meaning your website is cluttered, your demos filled with are only going to make your clients angry. If they are willing to fight through the web, and your product doesn't deliver upon its promise, they will trade you in for a better model.

For the clients, if you are willing to settle for something that is easier and cheaper than the rest (as I did), you will ultimately get what you paid for.

In the end, it is worth the time and research to find a product that is reliable, un-cluttered, and priced appropriately.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have some calls to make :)

Monday, June 11, 2007

Voice Acting is Big News!

A few days ago, I received an e-mail from my friend Moe Egan. She had been asked a few questions about voice acting from a reporter for She wanted to know if I would be willing to also answer a few questions since I have voiced characters for different anime. The main focus of the article was about how the Internet has changed the world of voice over. I happily typed out a very long response to the question for reporter Steve Mollman.

Today, this article appeared on International! It's titled Internet Gives Voice to Unseen Actors. I was shocked to discover I had actually been featured in the article along with Moe,,, (of which I am not a member, but will have to check out!), and Michiru Yabu. What a start to the day!

Of course, there is much debate about the tone of the article in the VO world. Emotions run high in such a competitive industry. There are so many people trying to become voice actors now. It seems easy (it is not), inexpensive (definitely not), and fun (yeah, ok- it's fun). It's a bit overwhelming to those of us who have been voice acting for years. However, I do feel that the market will take care of itself. Those who have the talent, patience, and strong work ethic will make it. Everyone else will find another line of work. I've decided not to worry about it and concentrate on my own career.

Now, onward with more free publicity!

While in Raleigh, NC for Animazement 2007 a few weeks ago, I was interviewed along with my dear friend Kyle Hebert by the Ki Anime Community. They have now posted 20 minutes of video from that interview where we discuss...well, we just talk alot! You can see it here!

Finally, speaking of my friend Kyle Hebert, he has a segment on his site called Kyle TV. He posted a 2 minute clip of us talking. It's the only time you will ever see my rabbit impression on camera, guaranteed!

So, enough about me...tell me what you think of me? (Sorry, this post felt awfully self serving so I couldn't resist!)

I'm off to pray for rain...

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Voice Actors Are Green People Too!

Stephanie over at Vox Daily recently wrote about going green with your branding. I believe she may be on to something here! You can't so much as turn on your computer anymore without having the word 'green' pop up. It's everywhere...your TV, your mail, your job...

It's no secret I'm an old hippie at heart. Always have been. I love animals, nature, anything wild and beautiful. In the past few years, I've begun gardening organically and eating the same way. I find it is easier and easier to become a more 'natural' person.

Let me clarify...this has nothing to do with global warming or Al Gore. My truth is not inconvenient, this isn't about politics. It's about finding simple ways to help the environment while saving yourself time and money in the meantime!

I find more and more lately that being 'green' ignites a certain passion in everyone. Those who are applaud you while others will become defensive or hostile at the mear mention of the color.

A few days ago, I was having a discussion with some people. I mentioned that we had a problem with rabbits and moles in our gardens and I was trying to find a safe, non-toxic, non-harmful, organic way to deter them. My goodness did this spark a conversation! Next thing you know, I was defending myself for owning a microwave- being challenged for having a cell phone. If I mention trying to live environmentally friendly- suddenly everyone wants to prove I'm not!

I don't live in a commune. My house is not an organic fortress...but I do try to find little ways to conserve and improve my own health by eating less harmful foods.

The bottom line is that I have a studio in my house that uses energy while emitting electro-magnetic waves. That's just the way it is. I could quit my job, but I don't want to. I love my electronic equipment...mics, pre-amps, computers, mixers...I really love having them. I love my career and don't want to leave it. So, what to do? I have a favorite book I carry around with me. It's called "1001 Little Ways to Save Our Planet" by Esme Floyd. There are some great and simple ideas in this book!

In reference to being a voice actor, and for all my friends who own are a few suggestions from Floyd and myself:

1. Add a potted plant to your studio for each piece of electric equipment you own. It will help counter the negative effects of radiation while freshening the air you breathe.

2. Use a fan. Our equipment is hot, so add an energy conserving fan to your studio to avoid having to crank up the AC.

3. Add a fresh bowl of warm water to your studio each morning...this will help maintain humidity that is depleted by electronic equipment.

3. Set up near a window if possible. This way you can use natural light during the day instead of turning on a light. It is good for your eyes and your spirits to look outside!

4. Power down. Turn off your mic and pre-amp when not in use. Shut down your computer at night. If possible, unplug as well. Even when items are turned off, 5% of electricity is still being consumed.

5. Use envelopes from junk mail as scrap paper for your notes. Conserve paper.

6. Dust and vacuum! Keeping your equipment and vents clean will increase their overall efficiency.

7. When possible, buy used equipment. Just make sure it is in proper working condition!

8. Don't throw out old equipment. Sell it or find a place that will recycle it.

These are just a few easy ways to save money and help the environment in the meantime. Think of it this way- you are already helping the earth. Did you know it takes 450 years for a computer disc to degrade? By sending audio through e-mail, you are saving our planet!

Pretty simple stuff, eh?

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Paws Up!

What a month June is turning out to be! I hope it is a good one for you as well.

This last weekend, my dear friend Chris Sabat came to Charlotte to visit my husband and I. It was wonderful to catch up! Chris was the director on DragonBall Z and also directed me in Solty Rei. He is an amazing voice actor as well as a director. Of course, we did what VA's do best and took a trip to Shelton Vineyards for some wine tasting and a fantastic dinner. My husband and I can't wait for him to visit again!

Yesterday marked the debut of a show I've been working on for quite a while. The show is Raggs, and I voice a green puppy named Razzles. Raggs premiered in select cities throughout the country. Here in Charlotte, NC it is airing on WTVI, the local PBS, Monday through Friday at 11am and Sundays at 8am. It will air throughout the summer and will hopefully be a hit and picked up for more seasons!

Please check here to find out when Raggs will be showing in your area! I'm so excited about this show- music, fun, puppies...what more could you want??

Monday, May 28, 2007

I am a FanBoy

As you may or may not be aware, I have provided the voices of Goten and Videl on DragonBall Z for many years. While the show stopped recording a few years back, we still voice video games and such. This weekend I was in Raleigh, NC for an anime convention called Animazement. Myself, Kyle Hebert, and Takeshi Kusao did a panel for all DragonBall Z fans. We were overwhelmed by the turn out! Seems we aren't the only ones who miss the show! The energy from the moment you walked in the room was unbelievable...and contagious! I will never forget it.

What made it more special was Kusaosan being in attendence. He is the original Japanese voice of Trunks, Goten's best friend on the show. There is a famous 'dance' from the show where Goten and Trunks fuse together to make Gotenks (whom I also voice along with Laura Bailey). At the end of the hour long panel (which was amazing), Kusaosan asked me to perform the fusion scream...a big deal for any fan of DBZ, and a great honor for me. See, I've been doing this for years, but to have the original voice with me was awesome!

My friend Bob Souer was kind enough to link video of the event from YouTube on his blog. It's much easier to view there than the original links. There is also video of me discussing how I became involved with the show.

You can read Bob's blog here.

I've seen a few coments on YouTube teasing the maker of the clip for being a 'fanboy'. If you were would know we were all 'fanboys' at that moment! I truly appreciate his enthusiasm!

In addition, an anime fan website did a half hour interview with Kyle Hebert and myself talking about cartoons, voice over, etc...I will let you know when it is posted! Kyle also has a video blog which I will appear on...I will let you know when it is up!

Finally, here is another short clip of our yell, only there is a blurry picture at the end of myself and Kusaosan doing the fusion pose. If anyone else has a copy of this picture...will you send it to me? An enourmous 'THANK YOU' to all the fans for your support. Someone on a message board called this one of the greatest moments in anime history...I'm inclined to agree :)

It was an amzaing weekend to say the least!

Friday, May 25, 2007

I Am Animazed

This weekend I am in Raleigh, NC for the Animazement 2007 Anime convention. I am appearing on several panels as an American anime voice guest. What is wonderful about Animazement is that Japanese and American voice actors are brought together and participate on the same panels with the help of a translator. I am honored to be here.

As my next panel begins in only 45 minutes- this post will be brief. I will update when I can with many of the incredible things happening here.

I wanted to quickly write a few things however. Today I had the honor of meeting Akira Kamiya. He is a VERY famous Japanese voice actor and has voiced too many things to list. Not just anime, but also American movies brought to Japan. He has been the voice of James Bond, Eddie Murphy, Mel Gibson, and many more. Kamiya has been a voice actor for 37 years. It has not been lost on me how much I can learn from him.

I spent about an hour today talking with Kamiya about the differences between American and Japanese voice actors. Turns out, we make about the same amount of money (WOW!) and work on similar projects. There is little money in anime in Japan, so many of the actors voice commercials on radio and tv to suplement their income (sound familiar?!). Many act in movies and work on camera as well. I don't know why, but I always assumed the original voices of these shows had to be millionaires!

After our talk, I went downstairs to watch Kamiya's panel about how to be a Japanese voice actor. I learned a lot! Martial arts is great training for fighting sounds and helps your breathing techniques. Warm ups are essential to a good session.

My favorite thing I took away today was how beautiful the Japanese language is. They don't just say the words or read the lines, they make it beautiful. Inflections change everything. The words are like songs, and each note is cherished and given its own recognition. I believe I will try this technique in my own voice acting. I want each word to stand alone and be great. I want my inflection to mean more than the sentence. It is possible to portray emotion with tones.

OK, please forgive my sporadic berevity...there is much in my head and so little time now to write it all out!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Branding...It's Everything You Are

I have learned more about being a voice actor in the last two weeks than I ever could have imagined. Many questions have been answered, many more have presented themselves. As you may be aware from previous posts, I recently began studying with Nancy Wolfson, an amazing woman in LA. (Our first private session is in June) She is known for her abilities in coaching voice talent and helping them reach the next level of their careers. The best part is, she is a very cool person! I have been fortunate to exchange several e-mails with her recently that shed some light on many things I never fully grasped. The main one being [Que scary music]...BRANDING!

Before you run screaming from the computer...allow me to share a few things Nancy has taught me. First, branding is much easier than you realize. It simply comes down to who you are as a person. Period. It's not any more difficult than that.

What are your likes, your dislikes? What are the colors and images you surround yourself with everyday? With Nancy's permission, here is a section from an e-mail Nancy sent me...

"I've done branding sessions where I've been sitting across the room with someone who might genetically sound just like anyone else, but they're wearing some really funky outfit or earring or pocketbook or even something on the checks they write that is just unlike anything anyone else would be wearing or having printed on their checks. I've had people say straight to my face "There's nothing unique about me" whilst holding a key chain that nobody else would have and/or sporting some bejeweled hair clip that nobody but that person would wear and I've stripped them of it and thrown it in my scanner. People REEK of their brands - they just are not trained to be objective viewers of themselves. Here's a quote you can tell the bloggers I gave them to chew on: “Oh what a power to see ourselves as others see us.”--Robert Burns (Scottish poet)" - Nancy Wolfson

Wow. Have you ever heard it put quite that way? I hadn't. It makes sense doesn't it? Look at your walls, look at the greeting cards you send your friends, look in your backyard, look at yourself. YOU ARE YOUR BRAND! Just find the image that shows it. Find the colors, the shapes, the lines...those are the things that will represent your voice and your business.

I've found mine (with Nancy's tremendous help!)...what's yours?

As a side note: I am learning so much so quickly I can't keep up with it all! In future posts, I will share a few things I've learned about finding the right coach, surrounding yourself with the right people, and how hard it can be to put together a great audition! Stay tuned!

Monday, May 14, 2007

For North Carolina Voice Actors

My friend Bob Souer has a post on his blog today talking about a fantastic get-together we are having in June!

If you are a voice actor or voice talent of any level, and live in the Carolinas...we would love to see you there!

It will begin June 23rd at the Village Tavern restaraunt at 11am in Winston-Salem, NC. Afterward, we will go bowling (where you will learn why I once won a bowling trophy for the best golf score)! It will be a chance to meet new people, and visit with old friends.

For this get-together, it is VO people only, no family or friends please. If you plan to attend, please e-mail our friend Donovan Corneetz at:

success [at]

It will be a great day- I hope to see you there!

Friday, May 11, 2007

You Are Never Too Young to Advertise!

I was leaving the house the other day and noticed my mailbox was open. When I got out of the car to close it, I saw a folded piece of paper inside. Upon inspecting the piece of paper, I realized it was a handmade flier. It seems we have an entrepreneur in our neighborhood!

I've attached a picture of this flier above (with the child's name and number blacked out). Isn't this GREAT?!

The flier for Brooke's business is hand-made, which gives it a personal feel. I know everyone on our street got the same note, but I also know this one was done just for me. A lot of time went in to her marketing campaign, she chose a fair price for her product (albeit a little low in my opinion!) and set out to get new business. You better believe I will be buying her cupcakes!

Ok, maybe I am over-analysing a child's idea and artwork- but I did find it impressive. What is funny to me is that most adults don't fully grasp the idea of marketing and branding nearly as well as little Brooke here!

In fact, after much thought and research, I have finally made the decision to take the next steps in my own career. Recently, I was fortunate to have my commercial demo reviewed by Nancy Wolfson during one of her telesiminars with Anna Vocino. I have been waiting a long time for an honest review of my work. Nancy felt that my demo wasn't properly showcasing my talents, but she did compliment me on my branding! Understanding who you are is the most important part of any business. What do you offer, and how can you portray that to your clients? Obviously, I need much more work on my presentation, which is why I have chosen to begin private classes with Nancy right away! (Our first phoner is in June)

I am already confident in my product (my vocal ability) but realize I can still learn more about technique. When the time is right, I will have a professional demo produced, a professional website and logo designed, and then I will be ready to advertise! Who knows, maybe I will start with hand-drawn fliers in each of your mailboxes! Get ready!

Side Note: For some reason, the links above are not working properly on this post. Please visit Nancy Wolfson's website at and Anna Vocino at Thanks!

Thursday, May 3, 2007

3 Tiny Steps

There are three things I was reminded of this week which are essential to being a great voice actor.

First, always take time to watch or listen to your work. In the past, I have been guilty of not watching the shows I voice. For years, I was asked very specific questions about DragonBall Z I did not know the answers to. It was less than a year ago that I sat in a room with 2 other DBZ voice actors and watched movie 13 in its entirety. What did I learn? It's a good a great show. So, I came home and scoured YouTube for any episode I could find. I even found a scene I had forgotten about in which my characters have a lengthy conversation. WOW! 'Me' talking to 'me'- I was very proud!

DB Cooper said something at the VOICE conference that stuck with me. "If you want to voice video games, you have to play video games!" Sounds simple, but it is easy to get busy and forget to go back and review your work. I own one of the video games I voiced 3 characters on, yet I rarely play it. I plan to change that.

When I watched our friend's baby last week, I finally had time to sit and watch cartoons while rocking and rocking...and rocking. I started with a DVD of the upcoming show Raggs in which I voice a puppy. I knew this show was great, but watching the show as will be seen on tv was incredible. I then watched 3 DVD's of Solty Rei in which I voice Celica. My goodness there is some incredible acting in that show! I learned so much listening to the other actors and how they delivered their lines. I also learned 2 very important things about myself...

1) I am a much better voice actor than I realized.
2) I am not nearly as good a voice actor as I thought I was.

OK- what I realized is that I'm very good, but I can still be better! I plan to continue training and learning as much as I can.

The second step in being a voice actor is being confident in your work. I was reading a thread recently over at the VO-BB that talked about how much to charge for your work. It became a back and forth conversation between seasoned professionals and those new to the business. The 'newbies' thought taking lower paying jobs was fine as long as it helped in their learning process and added clients to their resume. The professionals did not want to see anyone taking lower rates, lest that become the norm for us all. Now, I am generalizing and paraphrasing- but you get the idea.

It occurred to me that it wasn't so much about money as it was about confidence, or lack there of. I believe in my abilities and do not choose to be underpaid for them. I also know the expense that went in to my studio, the time it takes to properly voice a script, clean it up, and send it off. I know there is only one voice on earth that sounds like mine...and it is mine! So, I believe I should be fairly compensated for the use of it.

If we were all equally confident in our voices, regardless of experience, we would not be willing to settle just to add a name to a resume.

Now, I could discuss that topic for pages- so I will move on the step number 3...share.

On Wednesday nights, I teach English as a second language to adults from all over the world. I have students from Russia, Thailand, Taiwan, Panama, Mexico, Cuba, etc., etc. Our only common language is English, so it is the only language spoken in class. Sometimes I have to be very creative in explaining certain words!

Last night, one of my favorite students from Mexico asked me about the word 'catalogue'. It seems he could not pronounce it correctly and needed a 'trick' to help him say it. I thought for a few moments before it hit me. I wrote the words 'cat' and 'log' on the board and had him say each word. Then I had him say them faster and faster until the two words eventually ran together. I told him to 'roll' the middle a bit just like in Spanish. Try it...eventually you will say 'catalogue' perfectly!

I am not a speech therapist by any means, but when you are forced to teach words- you will think about them more closely. Try doing this when you receive a voice over script, take each word and watch it 'jump' off the page as you read it! Don LaFontaine says to 'love' the words. Trust me- if you share your language you will learn to love it through fresh eyes.

I believe these three easy steps will make you a better voice actor. Review, Be Confident, and Share. Simple things that will make a big difference!