Thursday, January 31, 2008

Location, Location!

A recent thread on one of the voice over message boards got me thinking about auditions. Years ago, when I started in this business, a voice actor did all of their auditions in person. Sometimes it was in front of your agent, sometimes it was in front of a client.

There were many advantages to this type of audition:

1. You knew your audition was being heard.
2. You often received instant feedback and could change your audition to client specifications.

The only disadvantages were the time it took to get to the audition, and the money spent on gas.

Since more and more voice actors have built home studios, very few auditions are done in person anymore (I average 1-4 per month in person).

The advantages to the at-home auditions include:

1. Unlimited re-takes.
2. Being able to hear your audition before submitting.
3. No travel time or exense.

However, there are some distinct disadvantages:

1. One never knows if their audition is actually listened to.
2. The client doesn't have the option to critique you or ask for a different read.
3. No one to offer you kudos for an audition well done.
4. No human contact (which is the strangest part of the home studio experience).

One of the many reasons I am thankful to work at a variety of local studios is the opportunity to get out of my house and actually converse with people. It is drastically underestimated! I've also been known to offer to do my auditions via phone patch, just for the opportunity to speak with my client.

My advice to anyone that is disgruntled with the audition process, is to find a way to change it. Think outside of the box and consider ways to exceed your clients expectations, while enhancing your own daily voice over experience.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Water Cooler Diaries

Over a year ago, I was contacted by a wonderful lady named Joni. She asked if I would be interested in contributing to her latest book. All I had to do was keep a diary on a specific day, write down everything I did, and everything I thought from the minute I awoke to the minute I went to sleep.

Joni was careful to point out that contributing a diary was not a guarantee of being included in the book. Still, it sounded fun- and a wonderful way to capture a moment in my life!

The day was March 27th, 2007. Coincidentally, this was the first partial day of VOICE 2007, an amazing week many of us will never forget. At that time, I had only been a full-time voice actor for 6 months. I was nervous to meet friends I had only previously known online, and I was excited to learn more about my new life's passion.

There was something in the air that day...something I knew I would remember forever. No, it wasn't the smell of the urine stained walls at the was the excitement of hundreds of voice actors coming together for the first time. It was the knowledge that in the days to come, I would make friendships that would last a lifetime.

It was a long day, sitting in a hotel waiting for the conference to start.

I'm so thankful Joni gave me the excuse to write down those memories. It's funny to look back and see how far I've come in a year.

The unbelievable part for me is that my diary will now be printed for the world to read on March 1st, 2008! I was surprised to learn recently that I was one of 35 women to have their diary featured in the book, Water Cooler Diaries: Women Across America Share Their Day at Work. My diary will appear between an Intake Counselor, and a Government Worker :)

You can pre-order the book on, read a press release about the book, see a list of participants, and read a review from Publisher's Weekly!

My thanks to authors Joni B. Cole and B.K. Rakhra for giving me this opportunity, and a wonderful keepsake.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Charlotte Metro Credit Union

Several weeks ago, I had the privilege of working with Sam Vincent and Jared Dudley of The Charlotte Bobcats on a TV commercial for Charlotte Metro Credit Union.

It was a full day shoot in two locations, and was an absolute blast! I made several new friends during filming, including the writer, Nathan Tothrow.

One of the most memorable parts of filming, for me, was spending several hours in the huddle (which takes up only a few second of the spot). My legs were sore for days! You'll also notice a beige colored purse that I am holding. Those who know me will recognize this as the purse I carry all the time. If I had known it would end up being a prop- I would have cleaned out all the loose (and heavy!) change first!

Nathan was kind enough to spend two hours uploading the commercial to YouTube. You can view it here: **

**Head coach Sam Vincent and Jared Dudley of The Charlotte Bobcats join professional actress Kara Edwards in this 30-second commercial for Charlotte Metro Credit Union. The spot was written by Nathan Tothrow and directed by Joanne Hock of Emulsion Arts. The cinema-quality special effects were added by Tony Elwood of Indievision.

My thanks to everyone involved!!

Updated Jan. 21, 2007: A giant thank you to Stephanie Ciccarelli for featuring this story in the media section of Voice Over Times!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Branding Explained

I have been a voice actor for about 12 years now. I've been full-time with my voice over business for a year and a half. Only in the last few months have I begun to slowly grasp this concept of branding.

As voice actors, we hear the word all the time. It haunts keeps us awake at night! (OK, maybe it's not THAT bad, but it is something we think about, right?) We know it is vital to our business, but we don't always understand it, or know how to achieve it.

That's why I am SO thankful I am a student of Nancy Wolfson. Few understand branding as well as she does. The best part? She is able to put it into plain English so the rest of us can understand it!

A while back, I participated in a teleseminar hosted by Voice123. It was approximately an hour and a half lesson with Nancy Wolfson and Anna Vocino dedicated to the importance of great branding. This teleseminar is what convinced me I had to study with Nancy.

Now, through the power of YouTube, this priceless information is available to the public...for FREE! This is a must-watch if you want to take your business to the next level!

The Power of YOU, Inc: Work Your Brand to Get More Work

(You may notice a few technical problems in the beginning with the audio...hang in there- this information is priceless!)

Monday, January 14, 2008

More Cereal, Please!

I have a brand of cereal I eat every single morning. Yes, every morning. I've even been known to travel with a box or two. The brand is called Nature's Path and the type is Pumpkin Flax. It is a healthy, organic, but oh-so-tasty kind of cereal and I love it! In fact, I've been known to scare my fellow shoppers by screaming "NO!" when I discover the local grocer is sold out of my beloved cereal.

I've gone store to store throughout town to discover which locations carry my cereal for the lowest price (that would be Trader Joe's). I buy several boxes at a time to ensure I never run out.

You may be wondering to yourself why I am writing a love letter on a public site to a box of cereal. It has nothing to do with a box of cereal, and everything to do with your client's expectations of your product.

You see, one day (a few months back), I decided to try a different type of cereal from the same manufacturer. It was in a larger box than my pumpkin flax, so I expected to get more cereal for my money.

When I arrived home and opened the box, I was shocked to discover that this large box contained half the amount of product in relation to the packaging! I felt I had been ripped off!

I immediately contacted the company with my complaint. I didn't honestly expect them to respond or to care...but they did! A response came within hours. They explained that the package's large size was due to shipping concerns (I'm sure it's a valid reason, though I was unable to fully grasp the explanation). She explained to me that the cost of the larger box was actually less than my smaller pumpkin flax because of the ingredients used. The company followed up on this conversation by sending me a coupon for one free box of their product.

Needless to say, I was impressed! Because of their professionalism (and outstanding product) I continue to use them to this day.

How does this relate to your business in voice over? Part of being a voice actor is creating your own packaging. From your demos, to your website, to the way you treat your clients. It is all part of the overall impression you put out every day.

The question you need to ask yourself is if your product matches your packaging? Can you back up that slick website? Is your talent properly showcased in your demos? Most importantly, is your product something your clients will want to use again and again?

While you consider these are a couple of links I strongly recommend checking out:

First, a post on VoiceOverSavvy in which Bob Bergen discusses the need to develop your own individual brand. Second, a post from my friend Mary McKitrick about all the things one must consider when setting their voice over rates.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

No Stupid Questions...

We've all heard the phrase 'there are no stupid questions, only stupid answers'. Of course, we've also all been on the giving and receiving end of one of those stupid questions. However, if you find yourself too afraid of asking questions for fear of appearing stupid, you might want to reconsider.

A few months ago, I was given the opportunity to audition for a new children's show on a major network. Part of this audition required me to cry and coo like a baby. Now, it is no secret that I am a huge fan of Pat Fraley (character voice extraordinaire), so I immediately consulted my collection of Fraley CD's. There it was, the 'baby in a hanky' trick once made famous by Mel Blanc. But, there was no 'trick' to cooing.

In a moment of complete abandon, I e-mailed Mr. Fraley to ask if he would coo into a hanky the same way he might cry? Yes, I felt foolish actually typing the words...but this was a serious audition!

Much to my surprise, Mr. Fraley not only e-mailed me back...he sent his response in the form of an .mp3! He answered my question in the most entertaining and helpful way.

Imagine if I hadn't had the guts to ask?

Last week I spent a few days in Texas with my family attending a cousin's wedding. When I returned, I had almost a dozen e-mails asking me for information about the voice over biz. Most of them were pretty straight forward, but one woman pointed out that every time I write a blog or an article- I always encourage folks to e-mail me with questions. She said it was because of that encouragement that she decided to write me.

By no means am I an instructor or anywhere near genius when it comes to voice over, but I have managed to learn a few things over the years. I consider it my responsibility to answer any questions, just as so many have answered mine.

Don't let fear ever stop you in your pursuit of knowledge. Sure, you may hit a bump or two along the way...but imagine what you might miss out on if you if you stop pushing forward!

Oh, and the answer to the baby coo? Perhaps it will be on Pat's next CD :)