I love when fans ask me questions because I know there is much to share and if I can help others become successful as voice over actors, it’s a great feeling. Below are the questions of two anonymous fans and my answers. Please feel free to ask me any questions you like by filling in the contact form on my ASK QUESTIONS page HERE
Oh, PS: It also helps me write interesting blog posts. I would love to know what you are most interested in knowing about.
PPS: To the two fans below – Some of these answers may have been slightly edited a bit since sending back to you as I may have written them in a hurry.
First, if you had to do it all over again and knowing then what you know now, would you still have chosen voice acting as your career path?
I think I probably would still do it. My voice is pretty unique and I always had a great time working as an actor. It’s a fun profession. I think I would have planned a little better at the start as far as generating and saving money, and would have started my entrepreneurial pursuits a lot earlier. Unfortunately, at the time when I was younger, people didn’t think women had to be concerned with things like that.
How has voice acting changed or enriched your life as both an actress and as a person?
I was very shy and acting in general made me feel much more confident as a person. As far as acting is concerned, voice acting is a a flexible career, especially when you have kids. I loved doing stage work but the babysitter made more money than I did working as an actress in LA.
Do you find yourself wishing that you could do as many live action roles as you have done in providing voice work in animation and other media?
Maybe at first, but as you get older, you don’t have to worry as much about what you look like as a voiceover actor. It’s much more friendly profession that way.
Do you consider yourself as someone who does what she does for the sake of art or someone who does voice acting for some other reason?
Voice acting as an art form? Hmmmm! I think when you first start out you get all passionate about “doing the work” and acting for the sake of art. After a while, it’s pretty cool to make money doing it too. And residuals are fun. (you lose a bit of your idealism when you get to be an old fart and think about practicality)
What originally got you interested in acting?
I got interested in it in high school. I was part of the drama department and did plays in my Junior and Senior Year. I also majored in Theatre in college and directed a main stage production of “A Doll’s House” by Ibsen. (That year the professors got chewed out because a student did a more important piece of literature while they were busy being experimental – I did love the experimental stuff too)
How did you make the “leap” to professional acting?
I got a gig doing Melodrama’s at Knott’s Berry Farm. I played the heroine mostly. Every once in a while I played the villainess. I also played piano (faked it) and sang olios. We did 6 shows a day and got paid. I did it for 3 years. One of the actors I worked with there was Lauren Tewes who eventually got the part of Julie the Cruise Director on the Love Boat. Steve Martin started there also.
What was your “big break” that got you noticed in the industry?
Robotech was my first claim to fame. I got sent on conventions and to Comic Con. I was surprised at how popular it was. I also did some on camera parts in movies including a film with Ruth Gordon and Laura Branigan in “Mygsy’s Girls”which I had a leading role. Later I had another leading role in a film with Kate Mulgrew, Samantha Eggar and Marty Ingles called “Round Numbers.” Both were forgettable movies but lots of fun.
Are having connections necessary for breaking into the business?
Absolutely. You can’t work without connections. You can’t depend on agents and casting calls. You have to get out there and network. I would say about 80% of the work I’ve done was via connections of people I knew and had worked with before.
What advice do you have for “breaking into” the business?
You have to be an actor. If you think you are going to be successful in voice-overs or acting without some type of acting training you are fooling yourself.
What kind of higher education (if any) is necessary for professional performing artists?
None, to be quite honest. Although I did some great plays in college. It’s a safe play to find yourself artistically. A college degree is mainly for people who want to be teachers. (This is not to say that going to college is not important. It opens you up to much knowledge and other opportunities – I’m just saying a college degree makes no difference at all as far as becoming successful as an actor)
What kind of acting training did you receive? What would you recommend for aspiring actors?
I was a theatre major in college. I went to Lee Strasberg (although it wasn’t really my cup of tea) I took a class with an eccentric Polish acting teacher and we did headstands, somersaults and juggling. My main training was being on stage in plays in Los Angeles. In one play I was in, I played Eugene Ionesco’s 3 year old daughter where Mr. Ionesco was in residence and wrote us an original story. He is a very famous playwright known for the theatre of the absurd. I won 2 Drama-Logue awards for outstanding performances as an actor.
What are the major differences between stage, on-camera, and voice acting?
They are all very different. However, you have to be believable in all 3 to be successful. Acting on stage is bigger and broader but you have a live audience and must connect to them and other actors. Film is much more subtle but there is a lot of waiting around in between shots. It’s not as glamorous as it looks. Doing voice overs is intense but the hours are shorter and more flexible.
Which do you enjoy the most?
I love all of them. Voiceovers were natural for me because of my young sounding voice and it doesn’t matter what you look like or how old you are. The people involved are fun and insane. Being on stage is a big high especially if you are in a great show but in LA pays little or nothing at all. Film you have to be lucky and cute.
What would you say is the most difficult part of being a professional actor?
Working on a regular basis. If you focus solely on acting you could starve.
What do you enjoy the most about acting? What do you dislike the most?
I love that it’s creative. It’s fun and is like playing at having a job. I’m not very fond of having to hustle for work. Even though I’ve been lucky and worked most of the 30 years I’ve been a voiceover actor, things change and sometimes you feel like no one knows you anymore.
How has the entertainment industry changed since you’ve begun your career?
It’s changed pretty drastically. There is less work and much more competition in voiceovers. People audition now online from everywhere on earth, you have to a have a home studio and be a decent engineer. Quite a few celebrities are being cast in voiceover parts. There are less Union roles because people in right to work states and other countries are working for peanuts.
What changes do you predict for the future.
There are less chances to form in-person relationships with people who can give you work because people are phoning it in. I’m not sure agents will be necessary in the future.
What (non-educational) requirements and qualifications are needed to become a professional actor?
You have to be able to accept rejection without taking it personally and getting depressed. You have to be persistent, reliable and disciplined. You especially have to treat your career like a business and learn how to market yourself. There are tons of great actors who go nowhere because they haven’t mastered the business end. That’s why it’s called show business.
What kind of living do most actors make?
Most actors make peanuts or nothing at all. Seriously. You have to have a backup plan. If you are persistent and never give up you will start to make some income. Most people give up too soon.
What “back-up” jobs do you think would be the most useful for aspiring actors?
I learned to put up WordPress blogs for people. (imagine a 58 year old learning something like that! LOL) Working online is awesome and you can make money and set your own hours.. I’ve also sold makeup, and waitressed. It’s important to find work that is flexible. If you do the 9-5 thing you probably won’t work as an actor much but you may have a 401K which is something most actors never have.
Is having a second career necessary for being an actor?
If you want to eat, you may want to consider a second career.
Which is the most common second career actors seem to have?
Probably being a waiter or some type of sales position.
What kind of career is recommended?
Instead of thinking of a second career think about becoming an entrepreneur. Create your own projects and don’t be dependent on waiting for the phone to ring. Create passive income rather than have a JOB or freelance postion because it gives you more freedom and takes away the stress. Save your money and invest it. I wish someone had told me that earlier but you don’t learn that in theatre school. Your business is YOU whatever you do.
What are the most common mistakes do you believe aspiring actors make?
They think anyone can be an actor. You have to do the work and be smart about how you run your business.
What is your favorite show/project/character that you’ve played/been a part of over the years?
Playing Minmei in Robotech was probably my favorite because it’s still very popular to this day. That’s very cool.
What are the major differences between union and non-union work?
You are protected by the union, earn residuals and get health insurance if you work enough. (this was invaluable when my husband became terminally ill with brain cancer and I had 2 kids to take care of.)
Is joining an acting union like the SAG-AFTRA necessary to get a sizable amount of work?
It gives you way more options. Unfortunately there are so many actors working for low pay that it has ruined it for union actors. Everyone needs to stick together on how much we get paid so that we have leverage. I’m very proud to be a member of SAG –AFTRA and have earned my membership. It wasn’t just handed to me.
What’s the usual process that goes into getting cast in an average acting or voice acting role?
To be honest, I’m not really sure anymore. It’s all changed. You usually get an audition and compete against a bunch of other people. It was fun when you could go into a casting office and meet other people working on the project. I got more work when I went in person. They saw who I was and liked me. Now you mainly send in mp3 files via email so you are sort of anonymous and if you are lucky you may get cast.
For voice acting, what’s the usual routine of an average recording session?
Well, first you have to be on-time. Every minute costs money so if you are late, you cost the studio big bucks. People who are late don’t work again. A session usually lasts 2-4 hours for dubbing or doing original animation. ADR – background voices for a film could last all day. If you are the main voice 2-4 hours is about all your vocal chords can handle. For some projects you get a script but for anime, you usually don’t. You depend on the director to make sure that you are working in sync with the script.
What are the major differences between dubbing and “pre-lay” voiceover work?
I’m not sure what you mean by pre-lay. I’ve never heard of it. Are you talking about original animation? You record first and then they draw the pictures for the cartoons. It’s much more spontaneous and creative. However, looping (dubbing) takes a special skill because you have to sync to the lips. It’s not something that’s natural to many actors. That’s why there is a small group of people that do most of the looping (dubbing)work.
Which do you prefer? Which do you believe is more difficult?
I’ve just happened to do more looping because that’s what I’ve been known for, but original animation is much easier and free flowing. However, you have to be pretty much off the wall and good at improvisation. Dubbing is more technical and harder in that sense.
Have you ever directed actors in any project? If so, what goes into being a director as opposed to being an actor?
I directed a major play in college. I chose not to direct voice overs. I like being directed. I didn’t want to deal with actor personalities. Quite a few of my friends directed voiceovers however. Directing means you have to be in a dark hole for most of the daylight hours and work well into the night as well. I like having a life.
What pleases a director the most? What tips do you have for working with a director?
Not being an asshole. (sorry, but it’s true) If you’re easy and fun to work with you will get more work. Don’t try to over think. Be directable.
Have you ever done any writing for any movie or TV show?
Yes, I wrote anime scripts for about 10 years including 3 years on Digimon.
If so, what is the process like?
Writing anime is good if you like to tear your hair out. It’s very detailed and excruciating. It’s like solving a Mensa problem every five minutes. I headed to the refrigerator way too often. You have to match the dialogue with the lip movements. I was really good at it so I kept getting scripts.
How do you get selected to be a writer on a movie or TV show?
I don’t really know to tell you the truth. I have switched over to writing blog posts. I don’t have to answer to anyone and can get very creative.
Where do you think you are right now in your career?
I think some people think I’ve retired. LOL (I haven’t) There are quite a few younger people coming into the business. And, as I said, it’s more anonymous than it used to be. I sometimes feel like I never had a 30 year body of work and a very long IMDB resume.
What projects are you currently working on?
Uhhhhhhh. I’m hanging around a lot on Facebook! And Twitter.
What kind of projects would you like to be involved with in the future?
Now that I’ve been busy doing online projects I feel like I can be a little more picky about what I work on. I like projects that are more life affirming and fun than violent. It’s always great to work on a quality show that you can be proud of. I’d love to do projects or conventions that take me out of town into exotic locations. I like to travel.
Any closing statements?
If you know of any cool gigs out there, let me know.
Don’t forget! If you have any questions, don’t be shy. Just ask HERE