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!