My birthday was a couple days ago, the 21st of March, and I thought that, in this week’s blog, I’d share a bit more about myself so you can get to know me a little better. I usually don’t like to focus on me, but if you’re going to entrust me with telling your story, you deserve to know what makes me tick.
James Arnold Taylor, one of my voice actor heroes, once asked me if I had wanted to be a voice actor all my life. I will admit, I was in a bit of “star shock” from finally getting to meet him after so many years, and I couldn’t coherently form a full response. My mind went immediately to my senior year of college when I made the decision to explore what voice acting was all about. And yes, that was the time when I actively pursued what having a professional voice acting career meant and how to go about establishing one.
However, what I quickly realized I should have told James was that I have been voice acting all my life. I just didn’t know it at the time. I grew up on Disney animated films and shorts, and I loved so many other great cartoons of the 80s and early 90s. I loved getting up early to watch Saturday morning cartoons and rushing home from school to catch the Disney Afternoon shows. (TaleSpin is still my favorite.) Without realizing it, all of these great characters made a big impression on me. I gave voices to my siblings’ stuffed animals and entertained them at home and on road trips with conversations between multiple toys and my siblings. I did this with some of my friends’ toys as well. (I didn’t realize that I was practicing my improv and storytelling skills at the same time.)
Now, if you asked me back then if I wanted to become a voice actor, I would have had no clue what you were talking about. I didn’t realize that was a real job. People give characters voices? As a job? People pay them to have fun? Totally didn’t have a clue. I remember seeing a “Behind the Scenes” feature of Disney’s Pocahontas on the Disney Channel and seeing the voice actors in the booth recording dialogue and songs. I thought that was really awesome, but the idea that I could do that still never crossed my mind.
Another huge influence on me, which I still appreciate to this day, was “The Original Animated Storytelling Toy”, Teddy Ruxpin. Teddy was an animatronic bear that told stories and sang songs. They were mesmerizing, and my imagination took flight as I delved into these stories. Again, the incredibly talented voice actors that brought the characters to life never crossed my mind.
Now that I look back, I realize how inspiring the storytelling Teddy Ruxpin and the animated films and cartoons I grew up on were to me. There is nothing I would love more than to voice characters that can have such a positive impact on others.
I was also a voracious reader; my imagination grew and grew as I explored new worlds, people, and stories. I enjoyed “books on tape” (remember those?). And I loved playing with my friends and acting out scenes from movies or stories we made up. I’m so thankful for how much storytelling has been a part of my life from the beginning.
Fast-forward a few years, and I had my first experience as an actor during one of my high school plays. It was nerve-wracking, as I was an introvert and pretty reserved, but it was also exhilarating, being able to become a totally different person and tell a beautiful story (the play was I Remember Mama) with the rest of the cast. I was forever hooked. I continued in theatre in college, and I earned a BA in Theatre/Communications, which also exposed me to speech classes, radio broadcasting, and television production, as well as the world of directing (and, as I mentioned earlier, my first exposure to voice acting). I loved it all. So many amazing ways to tell people’s stories.
I also majored in education, and I spent the next seven years after graduation as a fourth grade homeroom and middle school drama teacher. I especially loved finding engaging ways to teach my students and encouraging them to demonstrate their knowledge in different storytelling ways. My favorite project was a digital story of Treasure Island, one of my most favorite books. My students pretended they were Jim Hawkins, the central character, and I recorded them retelling the story in their own words (their first experience of being voice actors!) and then made a slideshow film of their illustrations to go under their voiceover. Some of those students are in college now, and they tell me they still love that project.
I know how essential and impactful storytelling can be, whether it’s with character voices or “real person” voices that help, persuade, or inform, and it’s my passion to tell stories that will connect with and engage an audience. Storytelling has completely changed my life, and it is an incredible honor to tell stories that will change the lives of others.
You have a story to tell. Your audience might be children, it might be students of any age, it might be colleagues, clients, or future customers. It may be on a small scale or a global scale. Your message is important, and it deserves to be told with passion and care.
I have been a storyteller all my life. I would be honored to help you tell your story.
Your audience is waiting…
How has storytelling impacted your life? Feel free to share in the comments below.
Just a few examples of projects using voice over:
Online / YouTube tutorials
IVR / Telephony / Voicemail
Promos & Trailers
Guided Meditation Exercises