Thank you so much for stopping by my website. I'm so excited to tell you about my voice over journey. Many years ago I started out in media and eventually got the courage to start my voice over business. It's an amazing passion that I get to pursue everyday. I love meeting new people and sharing my story with others. In your journey to become a voice over talent you will one share your story. So here's my story.
Life's fun as a child:
As far as I can remember I have loved doing character voices and making people laugh. My best friend and I would record on her tape cassette recorder (google it if you're not sure what that is) and pretend that we were DJ's and would do funny voices. I used to imitate a cartoon character called Marmaduke (a cartoon about a big dog). I also started making up silly voices and my own characters. We would do this for hours and just laugh until we cried.
When I was a young teenager, around 13, I continued coming up with fun character voices to make people laugh. I also wanted to get into TV commercial acting but had limited knowledge and didn't know how to go about pursuing it. I was frustrated but didn't let that cause my love for being silly get me down.
In 10th grade I took one year of drama and realized that stage acting wasn't what I enjoyed. I still had this joy of doing characters but wasn't sure how I would eventually use it. Then my 11th and 12th grade years of high school I took theater arts class and learned the art of building sets and working backstage. I enjoyed it alot but it still didn't give me the satisfaction of performing character voices.
Work as a DJ:
While in 12th grade I was offered a job at a local Christian radio station as a weekend DJ. This was the early 90's so it was on the change over from analog to digital. At first I was terrible, my voice was high pitched and I didn't understand anything about inflection and how my voice worked. When I did my first air check (recordings of what I sounded like on the air) I almost got fired because of how terrible I sounded and was told if I didn't improve in the next few weeks then I wouldn't have a job. My air check was torn apart and I got a lot of non-constructive criticism. I cried all the way home because I loved being a DJ and loved having an avenue to use my character voices. So that sent me on a journey to learn how to make my voice sound better. I started to listen to other DJ's, commercials and everything I could get my hands on and REALLY listened to their script delivery and started to mimic them. Through lots and lots of practice I began to get better. Nope I didn't get fired. I figured out how to get better FAST!
I was still in high school while getting my start in radio and one day my theater arts teacher asked me if I would enter a commercial contest for UIL. I told her I would love to do that and a week later gave her a cassette with one of my first commercials that I wrote and produced myself. A month or so went by and I had forgotten that I entered that UIL contest. Then one day she shows up to class with a first place trophy and I had won. I remember what she said to me and it impacted me my whole adult life. She said "Leanna you're really good at this, you should consider doing it as a living". Do you know that I recently saw this teacher and told her what an impact she had on me and that I'm now "doing it as a living".
Once I graduated high school I didn't know what I wanted to do so I started taking college classes at my local junior college. I wasn't sure what I should major in but since I was working part-time at the radio station I thought taking all the classes available that involved radio and television. I learned a wealth of information: terminology (language of the business), writing for radio and television, continuity, discipline, timing, deadlines and working as team member. Everything in radio and television (broadcast) is about timing, continuity and discipline...deadlines at every minute of the day.
When I just started college I had a lot of free time on my hands between classes and work so I decided to volunteer for a local, low-powered Christian television station. I also learned a lot during that time of my life as well. I ran master control, did live voice over announcements for live TV shows, helped with production, directing and editing, worked in the field and in the studio doing camera work and finally co-wrote and co-hosted a live and pre-recorded video show. This was a lot of hands on experience.
Full-Time Radio Station:
A year after starting college, at the age of 19, I started working full-time for the radio station. I was the music director, PSA director, commercial director and produced morning news for a “sister” rock station and fill-in news for a “sister” country station. Working early shift (5:30 AM) gave me the opportunity to not only do morning drive news but also I was FINALLY able to use my character voices on the country and rock station morning shows. I got PAID to be a goof-ball and it was fun!
Emcee, Announcer Host & Live DJ:
With being a DJ comes promotions, concerts and other live events. I was an emcee for many, many concerts, music talent shows, conferences and other live events. Through the radio station I helped to promote numerous events as well as helped to sponsor them with free air-time. Occasionally I was asked to emcee events not sponsored by our radio station. While working at the radio station I got a lot of experience. Another live event our station sponsored was a weekly summer Christian skate-night during I had to DJ. Nothing is more adventurous than being a live "in-person" DJ...LOL.
DJ & Live Interviews:
During my time in radio I hosted and co-hosted several interview programs consisting anywhere from 10 minutes to 1 hour. I interviewed hundreds of local business owners, people in the community, pastors, event coordinators, organizations and community leaders. Always be prepared for the interview is key to doing an interesting and successful interview. You have to always think ahead…have plenty of questions to ask.
Life after Radio:
I worked in radio for 9 years before deciding to stay home to raise my kids. It was a tough decision because I was always on the go and primarily in the public eye. Once you've been in radio or television it sort of gets in your bones or under your skin. In other words, it’s a lot of fun! After my first child was born I continued to stay involved with the radio station I worked for as well as other local community organizations and concert promoters helping with media events. I also recorded the occasional radio or TV commercial for local producers.
In 2002 when my son was 4 yrs old I was pregnant with my daughter and was asked to be on the board of directors for an organization called "It's a Girl Thing!" to help with media relations. My responsibilities included contacting media entities to purchase advertising, I went to all radio and TV interviews, wrote and produced all the commercials and helped another board member send out PSA announcements. I was on the board of directors and helped with media relations for 15 years from 2002 till 2017. It was also super fun with years of learning experience under my belt.
Co-Hosted TV show:
In 2008 I co-hosted a weekly television interview program that was pre-recorded through my church. By this time things were certainly changing in media and especially television. Computers, software and camera's had gone down in price and allowed for easier ways of editing and producing TV programs. Since I knew a lot about continuity and how a TV program worked from beginning to end I also helped to produce and edit it the weekly program. There again I gained tons of hands-on, life experience.
Voice Over Business:
In 2011 when I was pregnant with my youngest son I started researching what it took to get into the voice over business. I researched everything I could find on the internet about this business for 6 months before starting my business. Even though the similarities of the media business are that of the voice over business I found a lot of differences as well.
Little Money to Start:
Once I researched everything I could about the business I sat down with a friend who had me write some goals, pro's and con's of starting this business. Needless to say the pro's definitely outweighed the con's. I'm so glad I was brave enough and stepped into this fun and amazing journey that I get to take everyday. It's taken a lot of hard work! I'm so proud of how far I have come and the things I have accomplished along the way. So finally after much time and research I finally started my own voice over business. Here's a side note: I had just had my youngest son a week earlier before starting my business. So I had more challenges than just having my own business.