Ten years ago, I was a redhead, had just done my first voiceover job, graduated college with my BA in Theatre Arts, and thought I was on my way to New York City to be the next Belle in Beauty and the Beast on Broadway.
 
Needless to say, life had other plans.

And I’m learning… that’s okay.
 
Even if I’m “too old” to play Belle now, but that’s a post for another time.
 
I had no idea back then how much my life would begin to change right after this picture was taken at graduation. Some of it has been really, really hard. But some of it has also been absolutely beautiful. I am grateful for everything I’ve learned along the way.
 
When I was sixteen, I wanted to be a working actor when I grew up. When I graduated college, I still wanted to be a working actor.
 
Now, ten years later, I’m a working actor (and still not rocking my natural hair color). I didn’t think voiceover was how it would happen, but being in the voice acting community has introduced me to some of the best people I’ve ever known.
 
I’ll never totally give up those Broadway dreams, because I will always be a theatre kid at heart, but I’m really happy with where my career is now, and where it’s going. It’s taken years to get here, and there were days I wanted to give up. A wise director once told me that things would happen for me in my own way and in my own time, and I’ve never forgotten those words.
 
If you’re still on the road to your dreams, just keep going. You’ll get there ❤
 

Hailing from Los Angeles, Bonnie has been acting on the stage, television, film, and a voice actor for over 20 years. Credits include Isabel in THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE, Margaret in MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING, and Glory and Rhonda in ALMOST, MAINE. She also recently performed in COMING BACK FOR ME, the winner of Project Chrysalis 2.0 with Cary Playwrights. Voiceover clients include Amazon, Buick, NC State, Toyota, and K-Swiss. She has a Bachelors in Theatre Arts from CSU San Bernardino. When she’s not recording in the studio, she can be found hanging out with her dog Marcel, drinking too much coffee, and serving on the board at North Raleigh Arts and Creative Theatre. You should totally check out her website at vosuperhero.com   

If you’ve known anything about me through my Instagram, Twitter, Linkedin, and wherever else on social media, you will know that I am head-to-toe drenched with superhero imagery and geekery. And somewhere in the back of your mind, you’ll be thinking, “This is all well and good, but is she going to get sick of being associated with superheroes and move onto something else?”

Plot twist: the answer is no. I am not going to move onto something else.

 

The thing is that superheroes, for me at least, are not a trend for me. They are who I am as well. As in “I tried to run from it but embraced it as my identity” sort of deal. Think Mark Hamill and him being associated with the Joker and Luke Skywalker.

 

It was part of my life ever since I was very young and is still a part of me in current times. The only difference between then and now is that I’ve gained life experience through challenging trials and rewarding triumphs in my life. 

 

And that’s actually not a bad thing because I don’t have to hide who I am at all and sell a lie to potential clients. I can be honest with myself, have a little fun with my work, and provide an excellent service without having to fake it. Plus, there’s the added bonus of being consistent who I am as a person as well.

 

That’s far more important than holding up a public persona that can be discarded on a moment’s whim. If anything else, if something goes wrong and that it isn’t part of who the person is both in public and in private, then it is going to be concerning. Consistency is important because it’s crucial to a brand and beneficial to an audience because they will know what they will get.

 

My point is that the superhero theme I have is who I am, and that’s not going to change anytime soon. What you see with me is in fact what you will get, in my personal and professional life. 

 


Hailing from Los Angeles, Bonnie has been acting on the stage, television, film, and a voice actor for over 20 years. Credits include Isabel in THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE, Margaret in MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING, and Glory and Rhonda in ALMOST, MAINE. She also recently performed in COMING BACK FOR ME, the winner of Project Chrysalis 2.0 with Cary Playwrights. Voiceover clients include Amazon, Buick, NC State, Toyota, and K-Swiss. She has a Bachelors in Theatre Arts from CSU San Bernardino. When she’s not recording in the studio, she can be found hanging out with her dog Marcel, drinking too much coffee, and serving on the board at North Raleigh Arts and Creative Theatre. You should totally check out her website at vosuperhero.com   

I had a session with a great client this morning, and about halfway through, they asked me to re-do part of the copy, giving feedback on my performance, and what they wanted instead.

Then they apologized and said they hope it didn’t upset me or offend me.

What??

I was kind of surprised, to be honest. They said they’ve worked on-set with talent who have taken offense to being directed or felt like it was a personal attack on them as an actor.

Wow.

It’s weird to even have to say this but, dear actor friends… it’s our job to be directable. It’s not about us. It’s about what we can bring to the job.

I thanked the client for their consideration and replied, “I grew up in the theater. Trust me when I say this doesn’t offend me” and added, “I’m totally okay with whatever feedback you’d like to give me, so I can deliver the reads you’re looking for”, which I think they appreciated.

So, fellow VO talent, please put aside your egos and let your client direct you. They are trusting you with their work, they selected you out of the other voice talent – let them do their job so you can do yours.

I’ve been fortunate to have worked with really great directors in my time, and I felt safe in their hands. When your director/client has a vision for the project, they know what they’re looking for, and they want you to succeed. After all, they hired you! So, let them direct you, and be directable. Give them the sound they hired you for. They know you can do it, otherwise they wouldn’t have picked you.

Put the ego to rest, and let the collaborative, creative artist come out to play instead.

*Note: this should go without saying, but if the client is asking you to do things you are not comfortable with or things that are not safe – that’s an entirely different situation. Please take care of yourselves and be safe out there.

I failed 😬

Instead of pretending it didn’t happen, we’re gonna talk about it because I think there’s a lesson to be learned here.

I recently shared a picture on my Instagram of my booth with my new mic. It got a lot of engagement and really hyped me up, and I was so excited to use it. Cool, right?

Well… as some of my eagle-eyed friends noticed, it wasn’t actually a 416. I didn’t even really notice as I was putting it together. I thought it looked a little funny, but since I’ve never used a shotgun mic before, how would I have known? Bingo.

It wasn’t until my friend and all-around rockstar VO genius Mike DeLay at Real Voice LA sent me a kind DM pointing out that it looked like a different mic – the ME 66 for those who are curious – and to make sure I didn’t get scammed. (Big thanks again, Mike! And if you’re not following him and Real Voice LA, you totally should).

Turns out we got scammed.

My husband, who does not work in our industry, knew I wanted a 416 for a long time, so he went on eBay to get one for me. Found a seller with great reviews and the picture in the listing was a legit 416. As soon as it arrived, it was wrapped up and ready for the holidays. It was at a significant price cut, great seller, what’s there to lose?

After Mike reached out to me and I confirmed that the mic we got was NOT the one in the listing, we opened up a case with eBay. The seller fought us on it and said we were wrong, so we had to escalate the situation. I’m sure it’s a good mic – but the price difference between a $150 mic and a $1200 mic is noticeable – and when you’re paying money for a mic, you want to make sure you’re getting the right one.

It’s been sent back, our refund is pending, and I’m on the hunt for a new one.


Moral of the story?

– Have a support team. I’m not in any way bashing my husband’s efforts in getting me this new mic and that isn’t my intent by sharing this. He’s a really good egg, and if I’m grateful to have someone who believes in me as much as he does. He did a good thing. I’d like to give the seller the benefit of the doubt as well, that maybe they made a mistake and didn’t try to scam us. Optimism, I guess.


– Piggybacking off the first point of having a good support team. Build relationships with people in your industry. If Mike hadn’t reached out to me, I’m sure it would have taken me a long time to figure it out, or it would have been pointed out to me in a way that would have been maybe more embarrassing, like with a client. Yikes. 

– Be someone that can take feedback with your career (and life). If I had told Mike he was wrong, being the expert that he is, and went along my merry way, that would make me look like a total ding-dong, right?

– Share your wins and your losses. Maybe they can show some reality to an otherwise perfectly curated feed and be a teachable moment. 

– NOT EVERYTHING YOU SEE AND READ ON THE INTERNET IS TRUE. 

– You can still be a pro and make mistakes. It happens. Move on.

– Know your gear 😉

– Be careful about who you purchase your equipment from. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Whew! I already feel better just sharing that. Did I miss anything or did you feel better after reading that? Let me know in the comments.

With permission and reposted from my friend and colleague (and overall badass) Brigid Reale. The original Facebook post can be found here.

LONG & HOPEFULLY HELPFUL POST WARNING
Something I (and many of my fellow Voice Actors) hear often is “How do I get into/break into voiceover? People always tell me I have a great voice (can be replaced with “I do all kinds of voices”)”. To be 100% honest and transparent, when I hear that last part, I fight the eye-roll, take a deep calming breath, and mindfully unclench my shoulders. It’s like when I was a yoga instructor and people would say, “You teach yoga? Oh I LOVE TO STRETCH!” 🙄🤦‍♀️🤯 Honestly, I can’t really be salty. Compared to other careers, you don’t run into voice actors everyday like you might IT people, unless you are a voice actor. And there are thousands of us! We are actually a pretty tight knit community. But to the rest of world, yeah, we’re kinda like rainbows. And you don’t know what you don’t know.
It seems like I am (or my non-vo hubby is) being approached by people more frequently right now, understandably, due to the pandemic hitting employment so hard. This is one of the reasons I am writing this now. And yes, I’d guesstimate that 90% or more of voiceover work is happening from home studios at the moment. It seems like a win-win! And let me be clear- I am not trying to dissuade anyone from having a dream. I simply want to be fair and honest. Voiceover is cool, and fun, full of variety, and potentially lucrative, but it is not something you wake up and decide to do on a whim.
Having a great voice is wonderful and certainly can serve you well in this industry. But it is one of the smallest parts of the big picture. I have been a voice actor for a short 7 years now, and the one thing I have learned– Voiceover is not a job. It is a small business; one that requires a pretty hefty initial investment of time, education, and money to get you up and running. Think of it like being a coffee lover, who thinks it would be great to own a coffee shop. That love of coffee is amazing, but you have a lot to buy, prep, and organize before you can start selling your signature lattes.
In your first 6 months to a year, you should expect to spend between $10k – $20k. Why? Because you will need to:

  1. Build a home studio (whether in a closet, out of PVC piping, converting a room, or buying a fancy professional isolation booth).
  2. Buy your equipment (XLR microphone, interface, audio-production level headphones, recording software, just to start).
  3. Get many many MANY sessions of training in genre-specific voiceover technique, vo business training, audio production and editing training. Training can be done 1-on-1 (around $175 per hour), or in workshops and conferences (prices vary from $25-$40 for group classes, up to several hundred dollars for weekend long conferences).
  4. Get professionally produced demos for EACH genre for which you are looking to book work. Demos run between $1800-$2500 each for the pro ones that you really DO want.
  5. Build a website.
  6. Acquire various other memberships, crm software, marketing, networking, engineering, bookkeeping tools, and business resources to help you organize your business, find opportunities, deliver work, and collect payment.
    And I’m just scratching the surface here. Once you have everything in place, you will need to know:
  7. Where to find opportunities (It’s not just one place or type of place).
  8. Industry standard rates for all the different areas of voiceover. TV Commercial work charges differently from radio commercial work or explainer video work or e-learning or audiobooks or IVR or podcasts or animation or video games or mobile apps or museum tours or or or. Usage is not one size fits all.
  9. How to generate a quote with all the necessary line items and terms & conditions.
  10. How to audition.
  11. How to record work, edit it, and deliver it to the client in their desired audio format quickly. Also how to do pick-ups quickly and efficiently.
  12. How to run and be directed in a live session.
  13. How to invoice and collect payment.
    It’s a lot! In no way, shape, or form is this a thing that you should think, “OH! I wanna do some voiceover work.” NOPE! This is a full-blown small business, and the minute you enter this arena, you are an entrepreneur. You should think, “OH! I want to open a voiceover business!” There are no shortcuts to this. And like I said, the industry is a very supportive and inclusive community. I LOVE MY TRIBE OF COLLEAGUES! They are some of the best people I have the privilege to include in my daily life.
    Can you make a fulltime living? The short, sing-songy answer- Yeees! When you are first starting, you should expect to be seeking opportunities 80% of the time, and working…maybe 20% of the time, more or less. And do not expect to recoup your investment right away. If you do, I suggest you also go buy a lottery ticket, because your luck is on fire! It takes time– not uncommonly, years. As you market, create connections, and develop strong business relationships, that 80:20 balance should change, but again takes time. My point is, yes, voiceover is really cool, interesting, diverse and well-paying work, when done right. Yes, it is as fun as it looks most of the time. But it’s not easy, nor is it for the faint of heart. It’s a long game, not a lightning round. Hope this helps!

For more information on Brigid check out realevoices.com