Category Archives: Talent Spotlight
Kelly Libatique started booking voice-over jobs while still in his training with Such A Voice Coach Talia Gonzalez
Kelly Libatique started booking voice-over jobs while still in his training with Such A Voice Coach Talia Gonzalez, before he even had his professional demos produced!
We sat down with Kelly Libatique to hear more about his amazing success having just started out in this industry. Congratulations to Kelly on all of his achievements and we thank him for sharing such encouraging words with others looking for that hope & guidance as they venture into this exciting field.
Q: What inspired you to want to get into voice-overs?
A: As a theatre actor since college, I’ve been inspired for years to explore other areas of performing. Also, in the last ten years or so, I’ve been a technical trainer and curriculum developer in the high-tech and telcom industries and have used my voice extensively in recorded training material. After being told numerous times over the years that I’d be good at something like this, I’m so glad I made the decision to give it a whirl.
Q: Who was your instructor at Such A Voice & what about that person made them a good fit for you?
A: My coach was Talia Gonzalez, and I can’t say enough about her. In just a couple of sessions, we had found out pretty clearly what I was good at and what needed serious work. And the stuff that needs work STILL needs work. But her coaching and advice from real-world experience was invaluable. She challenged and pushed me out of my comfort zones and made me see what else I could do. She genuinely cared about me getting things right. It’s an investment in time and resources to get one-on-on coaching, but if you’re a newbie, you must do this.
Q: What do you see as your own VO strengths and why you will continue to succeed at this?
A: My strengths are having a strong, authoritative delivery, and if you need specialized or otherwise technical jargon–no problem. I also pull from my stage and camera experience a lot. But one of the things Talia had to knock out of me was my “default” trainer voice. No matter what copy I read, I tended to return to my flat, heavy-handed, “here’s the info” kind of voice. On the plus side though, I have found that many audiobook authors like this voice for the narrative portion. After that, I pull from my acting training and experience to create characters.
Q: What did you take away from Such A Voice that will be the most beneficial to your career?
A: I took away many things from SAV, but I can name two biggies. The first is the need to stay “one-on-one” when recording spots. The Script Analysis, as it’s called, is fundamental, and is especially helpful once you become good at doing it quickly. Without that, I’d still be doing my instructor/radio announcer voice; I speak to the masses, as it were, by instinct, but in VO, you have to be talking to one person. The second is the overall picture about marketing, even to the smaller markets, that many don’t think of. I’ve read a few books from other sources on the subject since, but you need to have an understanding of the business side of VO. Most of us artists just want to perform, that’s where the fun is. But it doesn’t matter how good the performance is if you’re not out there getting heard by the right people. I can almost never attend the SAV bi-weekly live training sessions, but I listen to the recordings and the real-world tips you get there are chock full of great info.
Q: What VO jobs have you booked and/or opportunities that you’ve had since joining our program?
A: I just completed my fourth audiobook and am already enjoying monthly revenue from that. I hopped on to ACX.com and started auditioning and found work right away. My current book is the first of a trilogy series that the author already wants me to do.
Although it’s a ripe market, audiobooks are not for everyone. They are long hours of recording and editing, and the pay is not as good per hour of effort. But the practice is priceless. If you’re not good with mic techniques or the bells and whistles of your recording software, audiobooks will take care of that. ACX has a strict audition process and even before the author or publisher gives the final Go, you need to demonstrate the ability to produce fully edited and ready-to-publish recordings.
I also did a promo for a Russian startup called Instengine. I booked that when Voices.com offered me 30 days for ten bucks. Why not, right? So I signed up and got the offer after auditioning for about 25 jobs. I was told later that was pretty darn good luck. The promo is featured on their homepage at Instengine.com and also on YouTube.
After my 30 days on Voices.com, I dropped out again until my official demos were done by SAV. My demos have now just been completed and are featured on the website I threw together — KLVoice.com. So I may hop back on to Voices or Voice123, we’ll see.
Q: What advice would you give to aspiring voice talent?
A: There’s an old saying: A year from now, you’ll wish you’d started today. I guess that sums it up for me and VO. I wish I’d gotten serious about it sooner and received the proper training and knowledge to get a real start.
Going back several years, if you were to make a list of everything you’re NOT supposed to do, I did them all. I bought equipment I didn’t know how to properly use. I tried, lamely, to make my own demos. I used copyrighted music for background on demos and auditions. And it got me absolutely nowhere. (Good thing too or I may have been sued!) Discouraged, I put it all aside for a couple of years and tried to forget about it. But I couldn’t. I knew I wanted to try. Then one day I ran into a class called “You’re On The Air” taught by SAV’s Lisa Foster and my fire was rekindled. I saw, laid out, practical steps I could take to get real training from pros. After doing some research on different companies out there, I found that SAV has a good reputation and many of their students are out there doing real VO work. So I signed up and here I am. And hopefully, someday, I’ll be able to say, “and the rest is history.” :)
Q: Is there anything else that you’d like to add?
A: You may try VO and find it’s not for you, but that’s just life. If it’s a desire in your heart, you need to just dive in and give it a go. You may be surprised. My situation is this: I have a day job and two boys, ages eight and twelve at home. Under these sometimes crazy, chaotic, and noisy circumstances, I’ve started a paying part-time VO career. You can do this if you have the determination and the right guidance. What’s the Nike slogan?: Just do it. (But do it the right way . . .)
Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know who you are going to get. I got Ben Marney.
From the moment Brian Hart and Ben Marney first spoke they became friends. “I quickly saw Ben’s professionalism, knowledge, expertise and learned how caring and nurturing he was,” Brian shared with us. “He remains extremely supportive, and is the best mentor a voiceover trainee could receive! It doesn’t hurt that he’s charismatic and modest either! Ben taught me the importance of inflections, marketing, perseverance, technical quality and most of all, to have fun.” As a voice talent, one of the important elements in training is discovering your niche. Brian’s niche is quite varied. “I’ve been told I’m a good story teller; that people want to listen. I think I see beyond the words on the script and tell the story the client wants to convey.” For some talent defining their niche is an obvious match and comes quickly to them, while others it finds them as time goes on. It’s important to define your niche and focus on your strengths and weaknesses. Brian states, “it’s especially important to realize when something isn’t working, as well as when it is.”
If you ask any voice talent what their inspiration was to get into the industry, you’re guaranteed to hear an array of responses, some more common than others. ‘I’ve always been told I have a great voice.’ ‘People enjoy listening to me read out loud.’ We found Brian’s reason to be quite humorous and an exciting journey! “When I was a child, I imitated voices while playing, causing my mother to ask who was with me when she listened behind my closed bedroom door (I was alone). In high school, I imitated a school official as if he was calling our teacher to his office on the school intercom. She obediently left the classroom and went to his office & I was a brief instant hero. I was NOT on the intercom, the impression luckily just worked. Then on to a 16 year military and civilian broadcast career as television and radio news anchor for the American Forces Radio and Television service and radio news anchor or talk show host for a few commercial stations. Why voiceovers? I felt I just wasn’t finished using my voice for a living at this tender old age. Only now it’s fun, not work, and it is beginning to pay off.”
Brian was recently hired as a rapping doctor for a children’s hospital commercial, he recorded a tag for a drug commercial, he’s a story teller for a university’s on-line science presentation and has hopes of using a couple of cartoon voices that he’s developed. “I didn’t imagine this was possible, or know that Such A Voice existed prior to February of 2012. I’m grateful to the company for hiring a quality coach like Ben Marney. He has represented the company to the highest standard and has shown me the way toward my current success.”
When we asked Brian if he had any words that he’d like to share with his colleagues he said: “Believe in yourself. Be honest with results. I’ve had success, but many failures. Learn from the failures and convert the knowledge into success. Don’t overlook any of the training. You can have the best voice, but if you have a technically poor quality audio product, or don’t market yourself properly, it is all for naught. You won’t be hired. All the training is important; every bit of it!”
Congratulations Brian, we look forward to continuing on this journey with you- best of luck!
We sat down with Jevon Spencer to chat about his first big gig! When he landed the job, he sent an email to his voice-over mentor Tom Force and you could hear the excitement radiating off the screen. He booked this job through an audition from his agent and as expected, he nailed it! Here is Jevon’s journey…
My family, friends & even people I didn’t know actually inspired me to consider Voice Over. I wouldn’t have ever imagined Voice Over as a career or source of income. I often hear how I should be on the radio, because of my distinctive voice and it’s amazing I never recognized what others hear. So I finally decided to look more into this Voice Over business, since it was becoming a common topic every time I would talk to someone. The more I began to learn about the industry and strengthening my gift, the more passion I began to develop for Voice Over!
Jevon’s instructor at Such A Voice was the talented Bill Sleeper. However, many years ago, before joining Such A Voice, he discovered Tom Force (who at that time, hadn’t joined SAV yet!) Jevon shared with us that “just starting out and new to the industry, Tom made me aware of my natural imperfections by the way I articulated words. I remember my first session with Tom when he recorded me reading a script. When he played the recording back, there were clear traces of slang, speaking too fast, mumbling, etc… I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Over time and continuous practice, I began to gain confidence, structure and sound more like a professional. After a hiatus from V.O., I had the desire to return and contacted Tom again. He suggested and spoke highly about Such A Voice and that’s how I met Bill. Bill opened my mind to many different facets of Voice Over during our sessions. He helped me polish the techniques I previously attained and introduced me to new ideas overall that would’ve never crossed my mind.”
One of Jevon’s strengths is the natural depth and commanding sound of his voice. With his amazing chops, that sound comes naturally for him, so his focus has been on other aspects of V.O.- bringing the words to life. “I will continue to succeed at Voice Over because of my personality. Every script I read, I search for new ways to connect and have fun with it, as I do with life. I honestly can’t see myself getting bored doing Voice Overs and/or too old not to do it.”
We asked Jevon what he felt was the most important thing that he took away from his training at Such A Voice. He told us that “having a decent voice is a good start but after your sessions and demo are complete, you must be knowledgeable on how to market your (Voice) business to acquire work. Such A Voice provided me with this information and continues to provide valuable Bi-Weekly Teleconferences. The Bi-Weekly Teleconferences have been an important factor with keeping me motivated, learning how to expand my business, thinking outside the box and sharing/receiving ideas with others who understand the V.O. industry.”
Jevon’s Voice Over success began with the booking of a few IVR/Voicemail projects and has now advanced to the recently booking of a major narration project for the Detroit Historical Museum’s “Doorway to Freedom” Exhibit.
“If you’re aspiring to become a Voice Over talent, I would suggest continuing to practice, practice and practice. Always remain connected and involved in the business, improve your craft, read, take classes, protect your vocal cords and stay positive! Also don’t quit because it seems like you’re not making any progress and/or receiving enough work. I found that Performance, Persistence, Patience & Prayer is Profitable!”
Thank you Jevon for sharing your story with us. We wish you continued success!
We touched base with Such A Voice alumni Mike Slemmer to see what he’s been up to.
Recent VO work has helped me develop my career or otherwise reinforced some important “old truths”. While I continue to make calls and send emails, utilize Social Media and otherwise be (or try to be) creative in marketing – the axiom that “80% of your business comes from repeat clients” is true. Always being diligent in response and rendering the best “product” possible is foundational to getting repeat business. I applaud those who have broken through and won national spots, and I remain optimistic that doing top-flight work for all whom I now serve will eventually turn into the big break.
Mike landed a couple of projects recently that helped him to test his range and Pro Tools knowledge, respectively. The first was a book trailer “Brannon’s Final Shot”. “This let me use my “Texan/cowboy” character, wherein reading about the book and visualizing both the story and who the readers might be helped me to tell Brannon’s story.”
The second project was a fundraising video for a new service (ithinkschool.com) in which he played a “Darth Vader” like narrator to a Star Wars-like skit. “Delving into Pro Tool’s EQ 3-7 Band and Reverb (D-Verb) I edited the track several times to at least try to sound like James Earl Jone’s 3rd cousin, twice-removed!”
Congratulations Mike- we wish you continued success!
We sat down with Natalie to see what she’s been up to and we were very impressed!
Despite studying theater and drama in college (and always having an interest in the arts), Natalie Donegan never had any desire to be in front of a camera or on stage. At 20 years old, she discovered that voice-overs existed, but didn’t have any space in her busy schedule (she was single, had a mortgage and a very demanding job as a sales manager of a daily newspaper) to pursue a possible career shift into voice-overs. 12 years later, Natalie was married, a mom and she was looking for an outlet that would challenge her creatively. That was when she searched out Such A Voice.
When Natalie was ready to step into the voice-over booth, she was happy to have a trained producer, Heather Costa, from Such A Voice by her side “In an area that I knew nothing about I was happy to have someone so well-versed in recording demos. I had invested in Such A Voice to create my demo because I new I needed to make sure I got the best demo I could. When you have an empty resume that is what you’ll be selling yourself with at the beginning! I was on a tight schedule, very eager to get things done, but also extremely nervous… at this point I had never stepped foot into a recording studio, spoken into a microphone to have my voice recorded or even worn audio headphones. Heather kept me focused and to this day I still remember many of the tips she told me.”
Natalie did a great job marketing herself, she attributes this to the fact that she was in advertising sales for 9 years when she entered the voice-over industry. “I am determined and I know how to sell, I’m just selling my voice now instead of a product. When I first started in the business I created lists of local potential clients: advertising agencies, marketing agencies, TV stations, radio stations, producers, telephone on-hold companies and more! I had no problem picking up the phone and calling them to sell myself and get my demo’s out to as many people as I could.” Natalie has since recorded over 100 voice-over tracks, of which almost 50% of these have been telephone recordings. “I recall that amongst the Such A Voice resources there was a suggestion to find your niche. However I didn’t have to find mine… it found me!” When Natalie started recording voice-over tracks to build her resume she accepted any work that she could get, it appeared a lot of businesses wanted to take advantage of her professional, friendly and genuine British accent to represent their companies on the telephone voice mail and IVR messages. Natalie has now tapped into this niche.
“I found myself sitting at home with this great demo and no idea where to start to get my name out or how to land work. The Such A Voice resources thankfully had step by step guidance for what to do to get going. Everyone has heard of CareerBuilder.com, but until I started working with Such A Voice I had never even heard of voice-over marketplaces. Such A Voice pointed me in the right direction and even gave me a free month on Voice123.com which I have continued to be a member of. The Such A Voice resources also gave me guidance on a business plan, marketing plan and legal tips. I am so glad that I was able to do these things at the point when I set up the business from home. Once up and running these are the essential things that don’t get done if not at the beginning. Otherwise you are a ship sailing without a compass.”
Natalie has voiced for over 100 companies in Asia, Canada, Europe, Great Britain, New Zealand and the USA on projects that have included Telephone Voice Mail, IVR, On-Hold, Educational and Travel Videos, Corporate Presentations, e-Learning, Video Games, GPS Prompts, Radio Commercials and Competitions, Television Commercials, Internet Videos, Tag Lines, plus more. Natalie specializes in Telephone Voice Mail, IVR and On-Hold messages which can be dry-voice only by hiring Natalie directly or if a client prefers their telephone script prepared, recorded, edited and royalty-free background music added Natalie works with Go On Hold.
To continue with her training on Pro Tools and working towards her goal of running her part-time business as a full time business within 5 years, Natalie is also currently a sophomore studying a Pre-Recording Industry Management degree program. “My goal is within 5 years to have gained my Recording Industry Management degree, to be able to offer complete production pieces from my home studio and to run my voice-over business full time.”
When we asked Natalie what her advice was for aspiring voice-over artists, we couldn’t help but nod emphatically as we listened to her answer: “If you are getting into the industry, get a professional demo cut! Use every avenue you have to promote your name. I requested testimonials from every client I worked with and asked permission to quote their company name. Within a short period of time I had an impressive resume for voiceovers!”
I also took the advice of Robert Sciglimpaglia with his opinion on the benefits of a voice talent incorporating as an LLC, after reading this article. So I am now British Voice Over Talent Natalie Donegan LLC.
“My wife made me do it!” Phil Williams tells us… and now that he has found repeated success, it turns out to have been as good a reason as any to get into the voice-over industry!
When we asked Phil what made him want to get into voice-overs, we received an unusual response, “Truly, the real answer is my wife made me do it.” We found his honesty and humor both intriguing and inspirational. “I never had some secret, long-held desire to be in radio, or images of Don LaFontaine running through my brain for years ahead of time.” He elaborates, “Quite simply, the opportunity to attend one of the introductory ‘You’re on the Air!’ classes came up in a local college class list, and my wife firmly announced, ‘You’re going.’ We actually drove back early from New Orleans so that I could make the 7:00 PM start time. The 2 hours in that classroom were just pure fun… I came home, told my wife that I thought I’d found a new interest and after some financial considerations were nailed down I signed up a few months later!”
While it sounds a little simple, the truth is that Phil possesses many of the skills that students don’t often realize are vital to voice-over success. Knowing what your strengths are can be key to finding your personal success story. Yes he does have a stunning voice (click here to listen to some samples), but he also has a technical background. This knowledge has helped him to master the needed audio recording and editing skills voice-over artists must learn. He even created his own website and built his own sound booth with a soundless ventilation system- wow! With some basics already nailed down, Phil continued to search for his strengths within the industry by identifying a niche for himself.
“I’ve tried commercials, phone recording, and one time presentations, and finally tried audiobooks… and what I discovered about myself was that more than the money, I was looking for a lasting effect. Audiobooks seem to give me that effect.” Phil shared more details about his most recent success. “My latest audiobook, Rewire Your Brain: Think Your Way to a Better Life has been very successful and a lot of people have downloaded it in a short period of time. With royalty work, that kind of result works quite well. It also makes me feel like I’m making a difference. I’ve even gotten a hold of the author and we’re planning to get together sometime later this year. He’s submitted another work and he likes what I did with the Rewire book so much that he’s hoping I’ll do his next one. Talk about pumping up your enthusiasm!”
Phil has also voiced corporate video narrations, a speech recognition project, an NPR piece and two audiobooks in addition to this project. He is clearly enjoying his new career and offers some insights to his fellow aspiring artists, “Overnight success is probably not on your plate. It only happens once in a while.” He further recommends, “Use every tool in your arsenal. Talk to everybody and anybody who’ll listen, because, like any other job interview, you never know if that person at the super market might be a booking agent, or know one! Have your 30-second self-promotion piece nailed so that you can capture their attention with your capability. Shameless self-promotion is recognized as a strength- NOT a character flaw! My biggest advice is don’t be afraid to try different types of VO work. Everybody said ‘Find your own niche!’ You’re never going to know if you are good at certain types of voice work unless you just try them, and then try them again.”
Phil has also found both networking and continuing education to be crucial in pursuing voice-overs. Plus, remember that inspiration he had to get started in the first place? “My wife… Yeah, remember where you came from, and who helped put you there. Give back! Now that the audiobook niche is helping us, we go out a lot more, and she likes that!”
Best wishes to you Phil! We look forward to hearing about your continued success in the years to come.
Such A Voice alumni Rob Sciglimpaglia is a nationally featured talent, and now a published author as well!
Chances are you’ve heard the name Rob Sciglimpaglia already throughout the Voice-Over Industry. What you may not know though, is that he originally got his start right here at SAV!
Since completing his training, Rob has been featured in national spots both on camera and off, including a Super Bowl commercial, a national radio campaign for Waste Management, and he is the voice of Tesoro Fuel, as well as the Apple NBC “Your City” apps. In fact the very first gig he landed after producing his first demos with SAV was a national gig on the PBS American Experience television series. Campbell Scott narrated the particular episode called “Hijacked” and he played a couple of voices on that episode, and the rest unfolded from there!
Rob got his start in voice-overs after training with SAV, but prior to that… he didn’t even know what voice-overs were! So how does someone go from a practicing attorney in a law office to voice-over success? “I had done a couple of call-in radio shows on Legal issues, and was a DJ in college, so I was always intrigued by radio. I saw a listing for an adult education class on voice overs in my local community college brochure. I did not know what voice overs were, but I thought the class looked fun. So I signed up, and have never looked back since!” says Rob.
Of course we all know that personal ability and drive plays a large role in one’s success. For Rob, knowing his strengths and weaknesses have been key, “I have been called the ‘king of the understated’ by a few casting agents. Meaning, my soft spoken nature of speaking is my bread and butter. I know this is my strength, but I also know that the opposite are my weaknesses, so I continue to work on my weaknesses while exploiting my strengths. I know I will continue to succeed because of the momentum I have been able to build up. I don’t think I could stop that tide even if I tried to.”
Rob also insists that success in the voice-over industry comes from much more than just talent. “Such a Voice gave me a solid foundation about the fundamentals of voice over performance and the business, so I was able to build from there and really learn the nuances involved with my performance and the industry. LEARN THE BUSINESS PART!!” He advises, “It is called SHOW BUSINESS for a reason. That includes learning the legal aspects, the players in the business, their functions and where they fit in. Once you learn this, marketing, and getting gigs, will be much easier, more fun, and much less of a daunting task.” He recently wrote a book called Voice Over LEGAL to help in understanding some of these business issues facing voice artists. We highly recommend it as a great tool for all those starting their own voice-over business, as we know first hand that Rob is a wealth of knowledge on this subject!
One last piece of advice from Rob… “Don’t ever worry about what you cannot control. Do auditions like you think they should be done, and don’t try to figure out what ‘they are looking for’ because, believe me, most of the time they don’t know. They only ‘like it when they hear it.’ Do the audition and move onto the next one, and don’t think about it again until you get called in for the job. Persevere, persevere, persevere!”
Andrea Burnette is the perfect example of someone who has managed to turn a life-long passion for reading aloud into an actual career move. As it turns out, her years of “practice” have suited her well- having shaped her ability to embody the character in each read she does. Andrea always knew she wanted to pursue voice-overs, so when she took her first class with Such A Voice, she knew by the end of it that it was time to make the move!
Andrea decided to take every minute of her studies with SAV coach Michelle Falzon very seriously, (actually asking her to nit pick!) to make sure she would get the most out of her training. “Michelle is an excellent fit for me because she’s a fantastic teacher. Her knowledge includes not only voice technique, but recording and the technical aspects of producing a marketable product, as well as starting and sustaining a viable voiceover business,” she says of her training. There is no doubt that Andrea’s intense devotion to do her personal best has served her very well, as she has now booked 2 radio commercial spots for a client in the incredibly competitive market of New York City!
She says of the experience, “I booked that first job this month via Voice123.com, two 60-second radio commercials to air in New York City for Health First New York. The client and the agency arranged to phone me to provide direction during the recording session. That was quite an experience! Since I booked that job, voice seekers have begun to send me invitations, which is very encouraging.”
Just like every artist, Andrea’s prior experiences are what truly helped her to nail these spots, “I attended a workshop titled ‘People Who Hire’ and had an opportunity to read for a local ad agency executive and a room full of fellow VO talents. I was very nervous, but got through the read and received good feedback from the exec and my peers. It turned out to be just the preparation I needed for my first vo job.” Combining this experience with her natural ability to be resilient and face new challenges daily, Andrea was ready for the job and is now a paid VO professional!
Are you dreaming of following in Andrea’s foot steps? To do so she recommends that you, “Listen to your coach, listen to voiceovers on web sites, TV, radio, in elevators and malls, wherever they occur. Practice, practice, practice! Keep listening, learning, improving and don’t give up!” Take your education seriously as she did with Such A Voice, finding that “the training itself was a great foundation on which to build; it also really helped to have someone to guide me through the process and help avoid the pitfalls. I understand the VO lingo and understand what’s expected of me so that I can deliver what the client expects.”
Congratulations Andrea, with your natural talents and drive to succeed, we are sure that we will be hearing much more of your voice in the coming months and years!
Larry Beier always knew he had a very pleasing and versatile sounding voice, but what he didn’t know was that voice-overs would be an exciting job to utilize his natural talents…. Until one day in a recording studio for his music work, he had the opportunity to listen to Joe Namath record one of his Flex-all 454 commercials. Thinking to himself, “Man, that would be a cool job to have!” Larry decided to pursue adding voice-overs to his resume!
As his first step, Larry signed up with Such A Voice to begin his one-on-one coaching with Michelle Falzon. He quickly learned that although he had quite an advantage in being a singer and having recording experience, there is a lot more to becoming a successful voice-over talent than just having a great voice! Larry applied himself and took all of his lessons with Michelle very seriously, saying about the program, “The truth is that no matter how nice your voice stands, there is a lot more to the VO business that needs to be learned. Things like script analysis, inflection techniques, how to market yourself, and information on how to set up and run your own legal production company. Such A Voice gives you the tools and resources you need. All you need to do is apply them.”
Upon completing his voice-over training program, Larry launched his own production company called “Voice Force One Productions LLC” and within only three months he landed his first paying gig! “It was a radio commercial in the LA area for LA Boxing,” he informed us. “I played the male caller role. We did a skype session and I was coached by the director. A lot of fun!” Thrilled with this early piece of success Larry continues to line up work with new businesses and has also donated his voice services to the Red Cross. Larry continues to aspire with dreams of becoming a national talent and voicing movie trailers one day. Keep us posted Larry, we know you will see those dreams come to fruition!
Leigh Laird has found a multitude of success since her initial decision back in late 2010 to pursue a voice-over career! Now having booked several jobs local to her as well as 6 jobs through Voices.com, Leigh is enjoying these beginning stages of fulfilling her dream to work from home – while still having the time to focus on her three children! In fact, it was that desire which originally inspired her to pursue voice-overs. Having an extensive background in radio, Leigh thought back to those years and recalled the incidents where people recommended that she voice commercials…. after doing her homework on the voice-over industry, she then decided that this was the right opportunity, at the right time! Leigh chose to study with Such A Voice and several months later began to market herself with her demo.
While Leigh attributes much of her success to the beautiful, natural and conversational tone her voice carries, she also gives a great deal of credit to her training. She continues to work with her Such A Voice Coach Lisa Foster today and raves about her experience, “I LOVE working with Lisa! She is such an encourager and I thrive on that! She has a wealth of resources and knowledge in all things voiceover and is always willing to share that…. Plus, she keeps it fun!”
Leigh followed a direct path to her success and hopes to help other aspiring talent to follow in her footsteps with a bit of advice, “1) Find a company, like SAV, that provides good training and a good demo. Your product needs to be showcased well. 2) Know your VO strengths and pursue jobs, initially, that play to those strengths. As you win jobs, that will give you the confidence to branch out later.”
We are so proud of you and all your success Leigh! We hope you continue to dazzle the ears of listeners with your lovely voice for years to come.
It is always a pleasure and gives us a great sense of pride when we hear about the professional advances our students have made. We recently asked Susie some questions to let us know a little more about her success:
Q: What inspired you to want to get into voiceovers?
A: I was a big fan as a kid of programs like You Are There, Victory at Sea, etc. I loved Alexander Scourby’s voice and thought he had the very best job in the world. When I started college at the University of Michigan in 1968, I planned on studying theatre and I wanted to learn how to be a voiceover talent—but the times being what they were, I was actively discouraged by my advisors. “Now, dearie, that’s a MAN’s job and a UNION job and your eventual husband won’t want you to travel that much.” My own feminism hadn’t blossomed yet so I meekly accepted their opinions as truth. Many years later (like about five years ago), I was chatting with a friend who is a very experienced sound engineer with a theatrical background like mine. I said I’d always wanted to record and that I loved audiobooks. Next thing I knew, he and I were recording public domain material and trying to market it on CDs. Not so successfully, I fear—too many costs, too many CDs rolling around, but we got a nibble from a company that was licensing such works online and we started selling our works through this site. Then Audible.com came along and, whoopee! We were audiobook artists, but I still had the voiceover bug.
Q: Who was your instructor at Such A Voice & what about that person made them a good fit for you?
A: Nick Kaiser was my instructor and we hit it off immediately! We had a lot of common experiences, being of the same generation and our personalities just meshed. Nick told me that my theatrical background meant that I already had a head start on a lot of voiceover hopefuls and encouraged me—for the first time in my life!!—to release my inner ham and have fun with VO. He also was a strong force against the old voices from my past and kept gently urging me on, letting me know I could do this and finally live my dream. He’s my best cheerleader!
Q: What do you see as your own VO strengths and why you will continue to succeed at this?
A: I love, love, love narration and will continue to seek out audiobook opportunities. I’ve got a million accents and characters in my repertoire, all just waiting to bust out. I’ve also learned that I enjoy commercial work—my first VO job, which kind of walked into my office while I was still getting coaching from Nick, was a website promo for a machine vision company so I got my feet wet early. Since then, I’ve done audio for some physical therapy videos produced by a young friend and have a monthly gig with an English as a Second Language testing company. All of this was just from personal contact and a little bit of networking. Then I landed my first job through Voice 123, using only my narration demo. It’s the first one that came my way through an audition, using the wonderful demos produced by Tom Force (the Michigan radio maestro) and Marshall Block (a great engineer with a rock and roll history that is nothing short of incredible). The client is in Montpellier, France.
Q: What did you take away from Such A Voice that will be the most beneficial to your career?
A: Confidence, confidence, confidence. I always thought I had a good voice but Nick, Tom and Marshall told me I had a GREAT voice so I’m feeling that there’s nothing in the VO area I can’t try. I’m not as swift with recording myself but I’m trying hard and I have some wonderful friends who are helping me. I learned that there are people who love to help you achieve whatever you dream of and I’d like to pass that along to other people like me.
Q: What advice would you give to aspiring voice talent?
A: My best advice is don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t do it! If you’ve got a voice, get good training (there’s this company called Such A Voice that I can’t say enough good things about!) and practice, practice, practice. Do community theatre. Record yourself. Just get out there and do it and don’t waste a huge portion of your life letting someone else’s outmoded ideas hold you back!!
Congratulations Susie, we are thrilled that you shared this experience with us!
Such A Voice student Kerry Steward recently booked a job voicing two characters in a video game!
Dawnn Leary, a Such A Voice alumni and current student in our Personal Career Advisory Program with Such A Voice Coach Anne Ganguzza, was recently selected for a voice-over job through a referral from one of our other alumni. Dawnn graciously shared some information with us about how she got started in VOs. It’s very exciting for us to see the community of our students reaching out to help others succeed!
Here’s Dawnn’s story:
When she was a young girl, Dawnn didn’t appreciate her deep voice. When she played with her friends she was often assigned to play the "boy." However, the older she got, the more she started to appreciate her unique sound. When we asked Dawnn what her inspiration was for getting into voice-overs she replied: "There are two experiences that really stick out for me: My first taste of VO was when I was 9 years old my music teacher landed me an audition with Charles Shultz to sing the wedding song in the Snoopy Special "Snoopy Gets Married". I only got to sing the wedding song, but I had so much fun and thought "this is the coolest!" Afterwards, I created my own "recording studio" with my tape player. Later on as an adult, I ended up doing a lot of volunteer projects for people who liked my voice such as voice messages for nonprofits and PSAs and I always had a blast. Then one day I finally decided it was time to put some energy into becoming a professional VO artist."
After recording a commercial demo with us, Dawnn has been working with Anne Ganguzza for the past 6 months in our Personal Career Advisory Program. She says that joining that program was the "best thing I ever did!" Dawnn will soon be recording her narration demo with us and she is very excited to have that additional tool to add to her resume! "Over time as Anne and I have gotten to know each other we have developed a good mentor/mentee relationship," says Dawnn, "it has been extremely helpful to have someone who is more experienced and knowledgeable in this industry to learn about me and my voice (strengths and weaknesses) and provide me with feedback– what things I need to work on and improve. Self-direction is an important tool for VOs but when you are new you don’t know what your bad habits are and it’s helpful for a more trained ear to help guide you to you figure those out." Dawnn was excited to share with us that Anne has connected her to various resources related to VO equipment for her home studio as well as volunteer opportunities connecting her to other VO artists that are working in areas that she’s interested in (i.e., audio books), "which has been priceless!"
We asked Dawnn what she would consider to be her own VO strengths and why she’ll continue to succeed at this. She answered, "because I really enjoy it and I want to do it as much as possible. It’s been a long time since I had something in my life that really gives me joy and doing VO’s does that for me, so no matter what, I am going to keep moving forward."
Dawnn is currently a part-time VO artist with a full time job. She plans to continue to develop her voice-over business with a faithful clientele so some day she can become a full-time talent. Her recent VO credits include the "voice of God" for a nonprofit’s annual gala in DC. She also recorded the voice mail greeting for the Heritage Signature Chorale in DC and she booked a job to do a series of webinars through the Such A Voice alumni referral! She is also a volunteer for AIRS LA where she reads articles in Women’s Health magazine for a weekly podcast as well as volunteering for Learning Ally in DC.
When we asked Dawnn if she could list 5 things that stick out as things she learned from working with Anne, she replied:
- Never stop learning
- Keep practicing
- Keep auditioning
- Market, market, market yourself
- HAVE FUN!
"Three pieces of advice that I would give aspiring talent," says Dawnn, "are 1) patience – this is not a "get rich quick type of business" that I think it sometimes is portrayed to be. It takes time, but if you enjoy it, then that will motivate you to continue and keep pushing. It’s amazing how much I have learned and now looking back I am glad it took awhile before I booked my first few paid voiceover jobs. I wouldn’t have been ready if I was hired earlier. Don’t be in such a rush. 2) Sign-up for Such A Voice’s Personal Career Advisory Program and the Bi-Weekly Live Training Program! The Advisory Program has been so valuable and the sessions have helped to increase my knowledge. 3) Volunteer! Volunteering is great! It gives you experience, while helping you to practice and helps to build your resume all at the same time!"
Congratulations Dawnn on all of your success! We look forward to hearing more about your journey as you continue to reach your goals. We have no doubt that you will achieve everything that you set out for. Best of luck!
Our Voice-Over Career Consultant Faith Coons recently landed her first on-camera gig for a corporate video for Human eSources! This opportunity led to securing voice-over work for the company since she was able to interact with the owner of the company as well as his creative director who hires all of the talent. Both the owner and creative director were impressed by Faith’s professionalism and "do whatever I can to help" winning attitude. This was a great opportunity to learn what happens behind the scenes of all the videos you end up narrating for, so she was able to see the whole process through. In addition to this, Faith can be currently heard in a radio campaign for OmniTrans in the San Bernardino Valley area. OmniTrans is a repeat satisfied client of Faith’s work and she is always happy to lend her voice to their radio campaigns. Here is the latest feedback she received from them:
"Once again, it was a key step to get your tracks in-hand and at the ready. I know what you deliver will be pro-grade, high quality. Thank you very much for the quick reply and turnaround with the reads. I really appreciate your time, talent, and interest. Onward to the next project."
Congratulations Faith, we look forward to seeing more of your on-camera work as you continue to expand your acting services!