Monday, March 31, 2008

2008 Day Diary

I wrote recently about a new book that has just been published featuring day diaries from working women across the country. I've been reading this book for the past couple of weeks (a diary a day) and have to say I love learning about the different professions and what different women go through (Let me just say, I hope I never have twins! Moms are superheroes!). As you may already know, I participated in Diary Day on March 27th of last year, and I am also one of the featured diarists in Watercooler Diaries.

It was such an amazing experience to write down everything I did and everything I thought for an entire day. It was like taking a snapshot of my business as I was just going full-time with freelance voice over. I made a promise to myself that day that every year on March 27th, I would write a new day diary. This year's diary is not nearly as extensive as my first (the original was around 9 pages!), but it is a tiny glimpse into what one random day in my life was like in 2008. This will be my longest blog post ever, so just an advanced warning :)

March 27th, 2008

2:30am- The alarm goes off. I never even hear it. My husband gets up and goes into work – again, I never hear him leave. I feel bad that he has to wake up so early as a morning show meteorologist, but he loves his job!

7:45am- My living alarm (otherwise known as my dog, Macy) goes off 30 minutes earlier than normal. She ignores my cries to ‘lay down’ (otherwise known as ‘snooze’) so I get up and take her out. I was really counting on the extra sleep, as it has been one of my busiest work weeks ever. Oh well, time to check e-mail and see what came in overnight.

8:00am- Whew, no emergencies! Only a new blog comment and some spam. That means I can enjoy my morning and eat some breakfast in peace…first day this week that has happened! I’m going to take 10-15 minutes first and check the voice over message boards. They are as addictive as a soap opera…I always want to read what people are up to. My cat Storm crawls into my lap and begins to purr…

9:30am- I eat the same breakfast every morning. Boring, I know. It’s Nature’s Path Pumpkin Flax cereal. It sounds awful, but tastes delicious! I also try to do at least 20 minutes of Pilates. I’ve had to skip it every day this week due to work deadlines, but today I indulge in nearly 30 minutes of exercise. I re-check e-mail and am delighted to see nothing major has popped up. I’m going to take some time now and water the plants and vegetables that have been desperately neglected all week.

10am- I have a stack of invoices from this week to type and send…I like to use Quickbooks Invoice Manager. It’s user friendly, and helps keep all my invoices in order. Of course, I prefer to keep a hand written notebook as well. I’ve never been one to fully rely on technology; if my computer crashed I’d be sunk! I can always count on my notebook for secure organization.

10:20am- I’ve just received an e-mail from a regular client. He reminds me to bring several changes of clothes to Tuesday’s on-camera shoot in Florence, SC. We will be shooting a series of :60 TV commercials for a local car dealership. I’ve been the spokesperson for this dealership for well over a year now. The sales manager is my on-air co-host. He is such a funny man; I always look forward to seeing him. We shoot on average of once a month. OK, back to invoices…

10:40am- Phone call from Charlie with GOV-TV. We schedule a shoot for this Monday at 10am. I am the on-camera anchor for a local government show called Meck Matters (Mecklenburg County is our largest county in the Charlotte area). It takes about 30 minutes to shoot a month’s worth of segments, since I am only there to introduce the stories and give contact information coming out of each packaged story. Charlie tells me the maroon shirt I wore last month blended into the background too much, can I wear a different color this time? No problem, I wanted to wear my new blue shirt anyway!

Looking at my calendar, I’ve just realized I have 3 on-camera shoots next week. GOV-TV on Monday, Florence, SC on Tuesday, and a commercial for a European video phone on Thursday (this one is a non-speaking role). I knew I should have scheduled a hair cut this week, but I just didn’t have the time! I’m looking really shaggy. Oh well, what can I do? I need to call Sherry and see if she’ll squeeze me in at some point for an emergency trim. When I decided to go full-time as a voice actor, I never imagined I would get on-camera gigs as well. They’ve really come from out of nowhere, but are fun and generally pay pretty well. As long as it doesn’t interfere with my voice over business, then why not go for all the gigs I can get?

12:35pm- I just got off the phone with my voice coach extraordinaire, Nancy Wolfson. We had an hour private phone session. I’m always amazed at how much I can learn in only an hour. Not only did we review a chapter from her course work, we spent about 20 or so minutes discussing some questions I had regarding my business. Nancy has so much knowledge about the voice over world; I always come to every session with a load of questions. I owe her so much; I’ve really seen a major impact on my audition to booking ratio in the time I’ve been studying with her. Plus, she is my go-to person when I have big decisions to make. The fact that we can also discuss clothes and shoes makes her all the more wonderful in my eyes :). We talked about demos a bit, I’m hoping to update my commercial demo soon and record a promo demo at some point. Ah, the updating never ends!

During my session with Nancy, my phone kept ringing. It was my local acting agent, her message said Thursday’s shoot date has been changed to the following Tuesday. Now I’ll have a shoot Monday, Tuesday, and Friday of that week- whew! I’m going to have some very late nights trying to keep my voice over work pile under control!

I call my local agent back to let her know I got her message. She reminds me not to get pregnant anytime soon, I’m on a roll with bookings. We have a good laugh, I love having her as my agent.

Ten minutes to 1pm…I need to finish up my taxes so we can drop them off with the CPA at 5pm. First, I have 3 voice auditions I have to record for one of my VO agents. Oh man, I’m starving! I need to eat lunch too. Auditions first, then food, then taxes.

1:40pm- I’m figuring a few final things on taxes and eating Spaghettios at the same time. I never eat Spaghettios, but I didn’t have time to fix something healthy. I’ll make up for it with dinner. My cat, Xen decides that at this very moment he simply must have some attention. I try to shoo him away, which gets my puppy Macy all wound up. They start wrestling. The busier I get, the more attention my animals demand. I think they are trying to push me over the edge. It has to be a conspiracy- it just has to be!

1:45pm- E-mail from my local acting agent. I now have a rehearsal on Wednesday for the website video shoot in 2 weeks. I’m supposed to have a 5 page script memorized by then. Oh my. How will I ever swing this one? I’m an auditory learner (not sure if I’m saying that right), so I have to hear something to learn it. Therefore, I will record the script in my studio and then load the .mp3 into my iPod so I can listen to it on loop. Looks like I’ll have an exciting weekend ahead of me now (said with a touch of sarcasm).

1:55- An e-mail arrives from one of my best clients. It is in regards to a very large project I am helping them with. The e-mail includes 3 pages of notes for production changes. Wow. I love that they are so specific; it makes my job much easier. It is sinking in with me now that this is going to be a very long weekend. Production by day, memorization by night. He asks me to call him so we can discuss the notes. I realize that if I’m going to fit a shower into this day it better be now…or never.

2:30pm- Showered and refreshed. My hair can drip dry while I call my client to discuss the project. I’m hoping I’ll have time to put on a bit of make-up before we meet with the CPA. OK, time to call…

2:35- It goes straight to voice mail, he must be on the other line. I hate how I ramble on when leaving a message. I’m a professional voice actor for crying out loud- it shouldn’t be so difficult! I better double check and make sure all of my tax stuff is ready- I may not have another chance.

3pm- My client calls to review the notes he sent. All the changes he wants make perfect sense, and overall everyone is very complimentary of the first draft I submitted. My husband comes home from work while I’m on the phone, and I wave hello as he passes by my studio door.

4:15pm- We are on our way to the CPA’s office to drop off our taxes. Since 2007 was my first year as a full-time business owner, I have a million questions to ask. I hope I remembered everything!

6:30pm- We are done with our meeting and all of my questions were answered. I’m starving and we decide to try a new pasta place near the house.

7:50pm- I arrive home and find a CD with my newest headshots in the mail. I recently had some new pictures done for my local agent, and I’m anxious to see how they turned out. There’s also a check from a recent job- I love getting money in the mail!

7:55pm- I’m completely bummed to discover that some stupid basketball game is on in place of Survivor. Even Lost is a re-run tonight! Where is the humanity? My husband is thrilled because he can have the big TV to watch his game. I’m just not a sports person; I don’t get it at all. I’m heading upstairs to look at pictures.

8:30pm- Yay- a few of the pictures came out pretty good! My agent will be happy. I was really tired the day we took them, so I’ve been worried about the bags that were under my eyes. You could definitely tell in a few pictures (it may actually just be my age finally catching up to me, who knows), but it wasn’t as obvious in all of them.

9pm- Chris is heading off to bed. It’s been a long day for him. I’m still checking e-mail and printing out the notes for tomorrow’s project. I have an audition I need to record, but it will have to wait. I’m worn out and would just sound tired. I’ll do a better job in the morning after a good night’s rest. I have some new comments on my blog I need to respond to now.

10:30pm- I’ve decided to post a few of my headshots on the VO-BB. Many of the folks on the message board are also on-camera people, so they are great at choosing which pictures would work best. I’m not so great at choosing, so I lean heavily on the opinions of others. I think I’ve messed around on the computer as much as I can for one day. I’m off to dream land now. I’ll have to read a bit in order to fall asleep, it’s the way I’ve always been. I guess I’ll need to practice that script I have to memorize as I drift off. They say you obtain the most material right before bed. At least that’s what I think they say.

Alright, come on Miss Macy, time to call it a night.

11:45pm- Lights out.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Rhyme or Reason?

As a freelance full-time voice actor/actor, it can be easy to become complacent in the face of endless auditions.

Each week we are confronted with auditions from on-line casting sites, agents, fellow actors, random website hits, etc. We are taught by time and experience which types of work we are best for. Therefore, when one comes along we believe we may be wrong for, we either ignore the request or submit something believing all along we'll never actually get cast.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a blog post about an audition I thought I had really messed up on. I arrived insecure, unprepared, and feeling quite foolish. It has become a bit of an inside joke with my local agent in the time since (the joke always begins and ends with my own self deprecation). "Don't give Kara the long scripts to memorize, hahah."

It is always easy to be the first to put ourselves down, for fear someone else may beat us to the punch. It is like building a cocoon around our feelings lest they be poked at a bit too deeply.

If I am honest, I would like to book every audition I submit, because I always believe deep down I am the best person for the job. This is the type of confidence each of us must possess in order to truly succeed in this business. There is little room for self doubt as an actor.

So, why the long diatribe?

Today I was reminded that I should never sell myself short. The audition I just knew I had blown? I was offered the job today. Not only did I book the original job, but I have also been offered a second job by the same studio to do some on-camera work for a different client.

There is no room for complacency in this business. We are given one chance to smile, hold our head high, and prove why we are the best person for the job. You see, while I did not do my best during the audition, I was sure to express my gratitude at having been given the opportunity.

Sometimes it isn't just the audition itself that books the job, it's the full package that comes with it.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

I'm Animated Alright!

I am completely obsessed with statistics. Stats of all kinds, but especially my personal website stats.

My wonderful web designer, Jason from Village Green Studios, has been helping me fix a slight bug on my stats page. The company I use has had a few minor problems, and my stats sometimes get stuck for a few days...leaving me stat-less.

Hopelessly and utterly stat-less. Not knowing how many people have visited my page, clueless as to the sites that lead them to me. Pathetically without my beloved numbers.

Fortunately, Jason was able to encourage the stat guys to update my stat page...and I am again stat-full!

While checking out the numbers, I came across my favorite stat of all time. Under the section that lists phrases typed into search engines that brought a particular visitor to my site, I found this phrase...

"animated cow poop"

Yes ladies and gentlemen, look for some good old fashioned animated cow poop online and you will indeed find me.

For anyone wondering how that could possibly be, just read my website bio and it will explain everything. As for me, I plan to spend my evening wondering what on earth could possibly have possessed this person to go searching for it?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Top 100

My thanks to Stephanie Ciccarelli of for including my little blog in her 100+ Industry Resources For Voice Over Talent. It's a great compilation of blogs, message boards, books, etc that all voice talent should take a look at! While you are at it, also be sure to check out:

80+ Online Marketing Resources for Voice Over Talent
10+ Podcasting Resources, Tools, and Services
100+ EBusiness Resources for Voice Over Talent
100+ Online File Storage and Delivery Resources for Voice Over Talent

These are each lists worth bookmarking! I can't imagine how much time it took to compile them, so again- a huge thanks to Stephanie and the Voices team!

Another 'list' to peruse is the Client Survey Voices conducted. Interesting results!

On a different note, I had lunch with a fellow actor today who is also the program director for one of our local radio stations. He asked me a question that stuck in my head...when did I know I was funny? (Which he asked after hearing my old morning radio show demo) Without hesitation I told him I knew when my dad told me. I was a little girl and my father once mentioned in passing that I had a very dry, witty sense of humor. I've always remembered that moment of encouragement, and have never shied away from a good joke since. :)

It's wonderful when folks we look up to take the time to point out one of our gifts. It helps us be fearless in our pursuits. So, my question to you...when did you know you had a special talent?

It feels good to think about it, doesn't it?!

Monday, March 17, 2008


I was reading some voice over blogs this morning, and came across one that really hit home. My friend Peter O'Connell wrote a blog recently about speaking in public, and how nerves can take over when you arrive unprepared.

I had a similar episode last week, although it did not involve public speaking. Friday, March 7th, I arrived in Atlanta for the Bob Bergen VO class. I checked e-mail as soon as I linked up at the hotel and discovered a note from my local acting agent. She had scheduled an audition for me on Thursday of the following week for an on-camera website video. The catch was that I would need to memorize a three page script prior to the audition (not a dialogue- a straight read).

Looking at my calendar, I knew I would never have the time to memorize that amount of copy (it was going to be a busy week). So, I politely declined the audition. She explained that I should just memorize as much as I could, and go to the audition anyway. I agreed, and set up a time.

Unfortunately, as the week progressed, I was never able to really sit down with the script. I would learn a line here and a line there, never really putting the whole thing together. I should also mention this was a remarkably difficult script with lengthy affiliate names, and difficult sentences.

I started to really stress about this audition, and sent a second e-mail to my agent explaining that I only really knew half of the first page, and probably should cancel. She told me she was proud of me for learning as much as I did- and to proceed as planned.

The morning of the audition, I was a wreck. I have never shown up to anything so unprepared, and I was embarrassed to have to admit my lack of dedication to learning the lines. The folks running the audition could not have been kinder (which proved why my agent encouraged me to still go!), they weren't as concerned with the words as they were my overall presentation.

Sadly, I had worked myself up into such a state of humiliation, I wasn't able to shake the feeling I just wasn't good enough. I stumbled over the few words I did know, never really showing what I was capable of. Basically, I blew it. I'm not expecting a call back.

The reason I share my story is to show that the crazy thoughts we put in our head prior to any audition or job has a direct impact on our performance. If I had gone in with my head held high, knowing I could memorize the script later, and proving to the client why I deserved the job...things would have turned out differently.

When we allow our doubts and insecurities to take over our better judgement, we are not preforming to the best of out capabilities.

It is a mistake I do not plan to make again!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Building a Business

March has always been one of my favorite months. The Earth comes back to life, and business starts rolling in. I love taking a few moments in the early spring mornings to sit outside and listen to the birds with their beautiful songs. I find myself thinking of the many parallels in nature and business.

About 3 years ago, when I first bought my house, a pair of finches decided to nest in my front porch light. Fearing for their safety (the running electricity scared me around the nest), I would tear down the nest as soon as a few branches were placed. However, the finches were persistent, never giving in. Each morning, new branches would appear until I finally gave up and let them build their den.

That first year, I took pictures at each stage of the process, from the first eggs to the first flight. It was remarkable to watch! Once I realized the birds were perfectly safe, my husband and I made the decision to just let them be. Each year since, in early March the first branches will appear.

This year, my finch friends were remarkably fast in their nesting. A beautifully constructed nest appeared literally overnight. So pretty, it almost looked like a Christmas ornament. The finches were brilliant, they even left a small opening so they could fly inside. They were also quite remarkable because this year they decided to use fibers from our entryway mat, leaving quite a mess behind!

This past weekend, I drove to Atlanta to attend the Bob Bergen animation VO workshop. It would take a lifetime of blogs to explain everything I learned, but one thing did stick out. Bob asked us how much we truly wanted to be voice actors. What were we willing to do, willing to sacrifice to live our dream? Did our adrenaline pump each time we stepped up to the mic?

My answer? Absolutely!

I have been able to recite entire scenes from my favorite cartoons since I was a little girl. More than a decade has been spent working and practicing my craft. I've built my nest slowly with the fibers of knowledge from the wonderful coaches I study with. Much like the finches, instinct drives me to pursue my dream year after year, despite a few branches that may be torn down along the way.

Spring is always a wonderful time to reassess your career. Am I following a dream? Am I building a solid foundation? Spending my days doing what I know I am meant to do? Is instinct driving me? Is my client family growing each year?

When one follows their true path, the answers are easy.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

The Town Crier

New jobs in voice over are popping up all the time! By sheer accident, I think I may have found my newest 'calling'.

Yesterday evening while watching American Idol, one of the worst storm surges I have ever experienced happened upon my neighborhood. My husband had warned me it was on its way, but I was completely caught off guard by how strong it was. Wind gusts came through at around 50 miles per hour toppling patio furniture, and doing minor damage to homes all around.

As soon as the first gust hit the house, it occurred to me that my beloved cat was still outside! I frantically ran to the back of the house, throwing the door wide open, and began screaming his name over and over. I called and called, and didn't even care that my neighbors were flipping on their lights and opening windows to see what the commotion was all about. So what if I was getting strange looks, I wanted my baby back home safe!

After about 5 minutes of screaming again and again, I heard a faint howl. Then it became louder and louder until my sweet kitty came bounding over the fence running for shelter. I scooped him up in my arms, wrapping a towel around his wet, muddy, and shivering body. He was scared, but perfectly fine.

Smothering him with kisses, I walked into the living room to tell my husband. That's when it hit me like a ton of bricks.

You see, my cat's name is Storm.

So, during one of the fastest and most ferocious storms in years, I stood on my back porch screaming, "Storm, Storm, Storm!" Perhaps this could be why I was getting such strange looks from the neighbors.

I'm not sure when I will be able to look any of them in the eye again, but there is a silver lining to the story. My husband has promised me a new pair of hiking boots if I will stand on the back porch tonight screaming, "Partly cloudy, partly cloudy, partly cloudy!"