How did you first get into the world of voice overs?
First and foremost, I am a stage actress. I began doing community theatre back in 1976, worked very hard, and eventually landed my first professional acting gig in 1986. After a matinee, a well-known Chicago talent agent approached me backstage after the show, told me I had “an amazing voice,” and asked me if I would like to do voice overs. I said, “Sure! What’s a ‘voice over’.” I had no idea what I was getting into. I went down to the agency the following week, and they signed me on the spot. They starting sending me out right away on auditions (in those days, everything was done in-house), both on and off camera. I landed a few tv spots, got my union card – and from that point on, I was officially a working actor/ voice actor!
What’s your favourite job to date and why?
I have to say, doing the voice of Hillary Clinton has to be my favorite! Over the years, I’ve been called upon to do many impersonations of her – mostly in a comedic vain. While I don’t ascribe to her particular brand of politics, I’ve grown to love her and I consider myself very blessed to be able to mimic her voice. Hillary has been very, very good to me. I hope I can meet her some day!
What style of read puts you a cut above the rest?
I have a lot of versatility. My vocal styles are virtually indistinguishable from the other, which really sustained me through 25+ years in this business! So, while I can perform various styles, I really think it has to do more with interpretation. I see all copy as living and breathing, jumping off the pages, bouncing around! Then, I read the direction, choose a “character” in my wacky mind’s eye, picture how that person would say it, and then create it. I guess that’s where the acting skill comes in!
Have you been involved in anything interesting recently?
Yes, I’ve been traveling back and forth to Los Angeles this past year, filming motion capture and vo for the most popular video game on the planet! Unfortunately, I’m under a non-disclosure agreement, so I can’t share much. But I will say that I have a prominent role, it’s very cinematic with a lot of famous actors, and it will be released on November 13. It’s been a very exciting ride and I can’t wait to share it!
Can you give some advice that you would’ve appreciated when you were starting out?
Oh, boy, do I have advice that I wish I would have known in the beginning! Keep in mind that voice acting is a business. Unfortunately, it isn’t all fun-and-games. In fact, most clients don’t give a flying fig if you have a “bubbly” personality, or are a “really fun person.” Don’t waste their time telling jokes or making too much small talk (unless, of course, the client happens to be Ricky Gervais) Agents and clients demand a product that is perfectly voiced and impeccably processed and edited, so that they can satisfy their clients. Keep in mind, most of your clients are actually the middle-man, andthey are often under enormous pressure to deliver the goods. So, if your passion is doing character voices, that’s what community theatre and improvisational workshops are for. Don’t get me wrong , they are invaluable venues for practicing and honing your acting skills. Do them, and often! But if you want to make a lot of money, then it’s imperative that you treat voice acting as a serious, full-time business. Ask yourself why you are not working every single day, and learn the ropes to becoming a disciplined business person.
Anything else you would like to let us know?
No matter how crappy your day is going, don’t complain. Be thankful and gracious every day. Love your clients, love the copy, keep the faith, and let the cards fall.