Sunday, May 18, 2014

My Superhero Voice Actor Origin Story

People have asked me how I got into voiceover work. Well, you can blame my parents. That’s what all children do, right? In my case, it’s totally justified. They met at American University in Washington, D.C., where they were both theatre majors with a radio minor. If I’d ever come home from school and told them I wanted to be a doctor or lawyer, they would have thought I was crazy!
Both my parents were always on stage. They were in commercials, and eventually my Dad went into advertising and became an ace jingle writer. It gave me an overview of the business and he got me and my sister started by casting us in some of his commercials.
I still have vivid memories of one of my earliest experiences, doing a Shakey’s Pizza commercial my father directed. This was well before the on-set “spit bucket” actors typically use for commercials today, so I spent the day devouring every last bite because that’s what it meant to be a professional kid actor in the year of our Lord none of your goddamn business. By the way, I had a gluten allergy. That’s right, I was gluten-intolerant before it was cool. I was nauseous. I was also hooked. I went on to do plays and more commercials. (To my parents’ credit, they weren’t pushy stage parents. It’s the truth but also they may read this so let the record show…)
I kept at it, studying acting at NYU, fully intending to become a Serious Actress in the Thea-tah. Around the time I graduated, I was dating a guy whose mother was a voiceover coach. (Shoutout to Alice Whitfield!) She helped me land one of my first gigs, doing the voice of Lifetime TV, “television for women” as you possibly heard me say in countless promos at the time. (Television that also helped me pay my rent in New York City, thank you very much.)
It was my big break and it opened the a door for me. At the time, I thought voiceover would be some side thing that would keep me afloat until I was big on Broadway. Little did I know at the time (I believe this was circa still none of your business), but voiceover work would become not only a professional mainstay but also a fabulous creative outlet. More classes and more training followed to ensure that my early break wouldn’t be become a one-off fluke. Now I’m so grateful for the direction that early success has steered me.  Millions of people who may not recognize me by sight have come to recognize my voice in some of their favorite movies and TV shows.
And when I visit them, my parents know I’ll only have gluten free pizza.

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