Today’s voiceover industry is in a state of rapid change. Where once entry was cloaked—if not denied—to all but a privileged handful of insiders, it is fast opening to everyday people willing to do what it takes to succeed. The one thing that remains unchanged is the personality types driving the next evolution. They are still the same rambunctious, unstoppable characters that create change in every generation. They don’t drive the highways. They build them. These are the trendsetters, influencers and connectors. These are the resources for aspiring voiceover actors, teachers, coaches, etc., that represent the primary constellation of opportunities for getting started and building forward.
Pat Fraley, a master teacher, lecturer, and performer, has singlehandedly invented voiceover curricula. Honestly, “curricula” is too old fashioned a term for what Fraley has done. His teachings move beyond traditional acting schools. It’s not so much his immeasurable knowledge, but his uncanny ability to break down acting techniques, vocal styling and craft trickery into fun, bite-sized nuggets that get students to the heart of successful performance.
Don LaFontaine’s legacy remains the aspiration of every voice actor. There was nothing LaFontaine could not do in this realm, and he did it all with a grace and ease that drew people to him. He created the style in which movie trailers are performed to this day. Actors still measure themselves by how well they can imitate Don’s famous line, “In a world.” Don’s legacy inspired veteran voice actors Paul Pape and Joe Cipriano (author of “Living On Air”) to create the Don LaFontaine Voiceover Lab, a state-of-the-art facility offering free services to advance the voiceover industry.
Chuck Duran and Stacey Aswad are the creators and hosts of VO Buzz Weekly, a highly prolific online program featuring personal, one-on-one interviews with the industry’s most celebrated voice talent. Through VO Buzz Weekly, Duran and Aswad provide a unique inside look at the career struggles and triumphs behind popular voice actors, coaches, and producers. Duran’s career as a rock musician and VO demo reel producer and Aswad’s as a gifted voice actor and producer, give this duo a unique insight for turning the career journeys of their guests into career changers for their audience.
David Lewis. While doing considerable due diligence to understand the voiceover community in Chicago, we made two surprising discoveries: First, Chicago is home to an exemplary pool of voiceover professionals. Second, David Lewis is at the center of it. Lewis was recommended to us by everyone we spoke to. His career is the stuff of legend, but a turning point came in 1997 when he formed VOX: Chicago Voice Casting, Inc. Today VOX: Chicago is the most respected voice casting company in Chicago. When Lewis isn’t representing talent, you may find him coaching professionals and newcomers.
James Alburger and Penny Abshire are an inseparable energy that has influenced the voiceover conversation at many levels. James is the author of “The Art Of Voice Acting” and is arguably the father of voiceover entrepreneurship. He and Abshire, voice actors and teachers in their own right, created the Voice Acting Academy and the VOICE Convention, not to mention other ventures through which pros and newcomers can learn and grow.
Nancy Wolfson, fondly known as “the tough love coach,” is perhaps the forerunner of the no-nonsense, get your act together, go to work or go home attitude toward creating a voiceover career. Wolfson’s gift is helping actors develop their talent and realize their brand potential. There’s a reason her name comes up as often as it does, and the reason is her reputation for making an impact. Wolfson, are you really as tough as they say?
Edge Studio’s CEO, David Goldberg, is a fast and furious businessman on a mission to expand Edge Studio into the leading voiceover consortium, from education to casting to production. Goldberg started Edge Studio as a music recording facility, but soon discovered he had a talent for directing and casting spoken word performances and wrote the “Voice Over Technique Guidebook.”
Gerald Griffith is the man behind Atlanta’s Voiceover City and the annual VO Atlanta Convention. Until recently, the Atlanta VO community was underserved, untapped, and undervalued. Griffith’s initial voice acting ambitions quickly turned to entrepreneurial inclinations. He seized the opportunity to develop an education center, which he built by enlisting the mentorship of local VO professionals and bringing in other experts from around the country. Whereas Atlanta once lacked a significant center of voiceover education, now there is Voiceover City and the VO Atlanta Convention.
For Cedering Fox, voice acting plays a vital part in her romance with words and language. While her day job includes voicing commercials, promos, and the voice of the Oscars for two years running, she strives to further the influence of the spoken word through the art of storytelling. This led her to create WordTheatre, an innovative, internationally recognized nonprofit, dedicated to inspiring a love of language and literature by presenting live performances of contemporary short stories. Additionally, Fox teaches and coaches in the Los Angeles area.
Jason Ojalvo, SVP, Content at Audible, caused a sea change in the voiceover industry with the launch of the Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX). Now anyone with a good voice and a talent for reading stories has a chance for a rewarding voiceover career. Talent notwithstanding, ACX created an entirely new gateway for anyone in the world to log on, register, audition, and read their way to success.
VoiceOverXtra hit the scene in 2007 and quickly became the go-to online publication for voiceover news. Its creator, John Florian, brings the best of the country’s voiceover experts to its virtual pages as news and human interest stories, and provides educational insights. Voiceover experts jumped on board to be acknowledged for both their professional achievements and the professional services they offer. Today, VoiceOverXtra is expanding its roots to become a full-scale online education platform.
Elaine Clark may have created the most provocative voiceover book title ever, when she published “There’s Money Where Your Mouth Is” in 2000. The title captures the essence of what motivates the question, “How do I break into doing voiceover work?” And it opened eyes and doors for people seeking voiceover career options. Elaine took her passion further as founder of Voice One, a San Francisco-based educational facility covering voiceover training and a range of spoken word and on-camera instruction.
Jeff Hixon revolutionized the voiceover industry in 1998 by creating Voicebank.net. It quickly established itself as the leading voiceover audition delivery network in the world, connecting over 250 talent agencies, over 8000 ad agencies, animation houses, and producers globally. With millions of auditions successfully delivered and tens of thousands of projects cast, Voicebank.net has forever changed the VO Casting process. Over 75,000 VO demos are posted on the Voicebank.net. The site provides a tool for clients to preview talent, access their representation, and discover aspiring voice actors.
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Joan Baker is the author of "Secrets of Voiceover Success," and the winner of multiple Promax and Telly awards for commercial and documentary voiceover performances. She is an actor, voice actor, and teacher. Baker trains individuals and groups in the craft of voice acting and VO career management. She has written trade articles for Backstage, Adweek, Multichannel and Broadcast & Cable.
Rudy Gaskins, is an Emmy Award-winning creative director and branding expert. He launched Push Creative Advertising in 2001, after holding executive roles at Court TV and Food Network. His accounts span American Express, Tribeca Film Festival, Lexus and BET. Rudy has written, produced and directed hundreds of commercials, promos, and marketing campaigns and has directed documentaries for PBS.
Joan Baker and Rudy Gaskins are the co-founders of That’s Voiceover!, an annual career expo, and the creators of the newly formed Society of Voice Arts and Sciences and the Voice Arts Awards.