Thursday, December 10, 2009

My First Voice Over Job: It Pays To Read

Alecia Batson describes how she landed her first voice over gig. Alecia is a professional actress, singer and voice over talent working in Boston, Austin and New York. She actively blogs about her career as a “professional auditionee.” Visit her web site at www.aleciabatson.com.

I am a classical singer by training. It is common for bulletin boards in the hallways and corridors of conservatories and schools of music to be papered with recital posters, concert listings, and calls for auditions. So, it’s not unusual to find instrument- and score-laden students poring over them interestedly. One day, as I was doing just that, I noticed a rather boring-looking flyer on pink paper calling generically for “3 men and 3 women.” A telephone number was listed at the bottom of the sheet. Perhaps someone is trying to assemble an a cappella or early music ensemble, I thought. I called to discover, in fact, it was a company holding auditions for a radio commercial. Having never done voice over jobs before, I thought, What the heck!, and decided to audition.

The copy was sent in advance so I had time to prepare, and I showed up to the Production Block studios at the time and date requested. I landed the job after that lone audition and it turned out to be more than the typical, first-time voice over gig. I was selected to be the first and only National Female Voice for what was then dot-com-phenom Collegestudent.com. (Collegestudent.com has since merged with Student Advantage.) Such serendipity led to the recording of multiple national spots over a two-year period for this “local, online campus community,” which was not only wonderful in-studio experience, but also contributed to the beginnings of a high-quality demo reel. (As an aside: the first spot we recorded was deemed so risqué that 50% of the markets in the nation wouldn’t play it!)

With this experience under my belt, I used my demo reel to market myself to voice over agents, acquiring my first representation with db Talent. I also contacted recording studios to find out if they maintain their own talent libraries and requested to be placed on file with those that do. Given the types of jobs I began working early on, it became clear to me that my industry niche was quirky, college-cool, but my singing background enabled me to expand that to include foreign languages and accents. Since that initial, unexpected audition, I’ve had the good fortune to record for a variety of corporations, including Time Warner Cable, Reebok, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Gozaic and Adobe, working on varied projects like telephony systems, industrial videos, television commercial demos and, of course, radio spots.

I look back on my entrée into a voice over career in astonishment. Voice over work had certainly never been part of my grand life plan and, truthfully, I had not heard of it when I made that fateful telephone call. However, I cannot deny I am pleased to have been one of those bulletin board-reading students because being so truly changed my life.

How did YOU land your first voice over gig? Share your story with us and any advice you have for aspiring voice talent!

1 comment:

  1. That is a great story! I've been in radio for a while now but didn't start getting into voice overs until the last few years. My first job was for an Elvis impersonation. I was hired to do an Elvis voice over to be used on Garmin and Tom Tom GPS devices via pigtones.com. I auditioned online against many others thinking I probably didn't stand much of a chance. But to my surprise I was contacted and ultimately hired for the job.

    To this day it's still one of my favorite jobs. Sample of mine and other great celebrity impersonations are at pigtones.com.

    Paul Hernandez

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