Welcome to Voiceover Exchange, where the exciting world of voiceover acting will be shared with clarity, accuracy, and a focus on creating a successful career. If your interest in voiceover acting is to enjoy a job you love at the highest level to which your talent can take you, then you’re in the right place.
If you’re reading this inaugural column for the first time, you will quite naturally want to know the story behind the writers and why we are so thrilled to provide this forum. First, we appreciate your interest and curiosity. We totally get how tricky it can be to navigate an industry that can be extremely difficult to penetrate. A window onto the voiceover panorama will be opened. We will give you more than a baseline for success. We will empower you to advance your career such that it becomes more viable, more vibrant, and more respected across all media. Finally, what we say here in Voiceover Exchange, and what we quote from others, is based not only on our experience, but on our commitment to your success. We’re here because good people took us under their wings and showed us the ropes, and we want to extend the ropes as far and wide as we can.
But first, a very brief, third person, account of the story of us: Once a upon a time in the anonymous dominion of voice acting, a shiny new ABC News producer (Gaskins) was toiling away, writing and developing a television promotion campaign to be hosted by the late Peter Jennings and aired nationally on the ABC Television Network. As the campaign was about women’s health care, Gaskins took the seemingly obvious step of requesting a female voice actor. As fate would have it, a beautiful, young, doe-eyed voice actor (Baker) had recently hand-delivered her voiceover demo reel to the department receptionist, requesting, in her innocence, that it be shared with the ABC News producers. As was the case with the innocent Baker, Gaskins had no clue that a female voice hadn’t been hired for ABC News in over seven years. But on this fateful day, Gaskins’ boss granted his request and the voice of their eavesdropping receptionist rang out. “Joan Baker’s demo has been sitting on your desk for three days. Why don’t you listen to it?” And so the boss and the producer quieted their hearts and minds and listened. And upon listening, they dispatched a request for Baker to the much vaunted province of Don Buchwald and Associates, who with all due speed, directed her to the corridors of ABC News. And thus, began the partnership of Gaskins and Baker as director and talent—dual perspectives from opposite sides of the microphone.
They would go on to share their duality through lectures for private acting schools and universities and eventually through establishing their own specialized curricula and workshops. Their dual approach turned out to be the magic key that opened the door to a comprehensive and practical way for students to understand the craft and the business of voice acting. For nearly 18 years the pair continued cultivating their curricula to stay ahead of the evolving industry trends while also adding to, and influencing, the nature of the industry. They published “Secrets of Voiceover Success,” produced a live voiceover forum titled “Cracking the Voiceover Code” for the Museum of the Moving Image in New York, won multiple awards for voiceover and television productions, created an international career expo called That’s Voiceover!, founded the Society of Voice Arts and Sciences and created the Voice Arts Award which made its inaugural 2013 presentation to the extraordinarily talented Keith David, at the Directors Guild of America. And, along the way, they became husband and wife.
Of course, that’s not the end. We’re still writing our story and we want it to include the career success of those who read Voiceover Exchange, whether reinventing your voiceover career or starting anew. Most importantly, we recognize that in order to bring you the most comprehensive point of view possible, we have to incorporate the vantage points of other experts, here in America and abroad. Trust us. We know where these people liveand we will bring them to you from all ranks and specialties—teachers, casting directors, agents, creative directors, television producers, ADR specialists, audiobook narrators, gaming producers, ad gurus, marketers, and the list goes on.
Don’t let the long list intimidate you. The longer the list, the more avenues you will find for employment. One such person on our list is our good friend and master voiceover teacher, Pat Fraley, whom you can contact at PatFraley.com. In honor of launching our inaugural column, we asked Pat to offer a singular thought on the voiceover business, to which he replied with his usual grace and ease,
“Voiceover is about doors, champions, and skills. Doors open every so often to opportunities. Champions can help open doors. The only thing you really have control over is gaining skills. Champions are attracted to those who have skills, as they know that if they help open a door, the performer will go through with skills and do them proud.” Depending upon where you are in your voiceover career, you will see different lessons in Pat’s wisdom, but clearly he points to profound considerations, beyond the ubiquitous question, “How do I break in?” These very thoughtful considerations are what make voiceover acting the lively, challenging and worthwhile pursuit that it is.
Generally speaking, learning the craft and business of voice acting is like learning to swim. Imagine for a moment that you were from another planet and were learning about the properties of water and swimming for the very first time. This is what it’s like for many people stepping into the pool of voice acting. You can watch people swim and read about how to swim, but you have to get into the water before it starts to make sense. Some people swallow a little water and decide swimming is not for them, while others immediately start perfecting their backstroke. And, if you’re in the water already (a working voice actor who wants more out of your career) then you find a swimming coach who can help you navigate into deeper, open waters. Take note that how far and how deep you’re willing to swim is a useful guide to your career potential.
We are thrilled to provide a fresh voice to a vast and enthusiastic audience of actors. Voiceover Exchange will be a resource for career guidance you can count on to be current, relevant, honest and accurate -- a gateway to a universe of new ideas that will enhance your journey to success. Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject "Voiceover Exchange."
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.