Slating

Posted on April 4, 2014 by rfulginiti No Comments

hi-my-name-is

Ahhh, the slate. It’s a part of every VO’s daily world. For most auditions, they’re required. For those unfamiliar with the term, a slate is when you say your name at the beginning of the audition to identify yourself.

People slate in different ways. Some just say their name: “Rachel Fuginiti”. This is what I do, as I’ve heard from most casting directors and producers that it’s their preference. Some will say “Hi, my name is…” or  “This is…” If I’m in a group audition situation, I usually take my cue from the other actor, if they slate first. I match the format of however they did it, which I think lends a sense of cohesiveness and unity. It also ensures I’m listening!

There’s nothing wrong with a short introduction as long as it doesn’t go overboard. “Hi there, this is Rachel Fulginiti, reading for the part of x and I’m very happy to be doing this audition… My dog’s name is…”

I’m being funny but seriously sometimes an actor can go overboard. Some people feel absolutely compelled to add something unique to their slate, believing that it will grab the listener’s attention or make them stand out. This might be true but it can also backfire. It’s important to remember that they will be listening to dozens (or more likely, 100’s!) of auditions. You don’t want to waste their time by adding ten seconds of intro. They just might skip over your audition altogether and move on to the next one. Keep it short and to the point. Get to the audition, which is what they really want to hear.

Some people slate full out in character and I think that can be useful sometimes, especially for video games and animation. Of course others will disagree, saying that it’s good for them to hear a contrast between you and the character, to see what else you’re capable of and to make your acting stand out. I’ve thought about it a lot and I honestly go back and forth on this one. In the end, I think a friendly, approachable, natural sounding slate works every time, regardless of genre or project.

One thing that used to really throw me was transitioning from the slate into the actual audition. I felt like I had to launch right into the copy after saying my name, and often times that didn’t give me a chance to get where I “needed to be” for the audition. I started allowing myself a small pause after slating, to collect myself and drop in. It’s a really small space, a “beat” if you will, but it allows me to remember my intention and what I’m wanting to do.

Another way to approach this, or a good adjunct, is to be prepared before you even say your name, so when you slate, it’s as if it’s already a piece of the copy. I like this and for that reason I always make sure to slate in the general tone, mood or flavor of the piece. Firstly, it puts me where I need to be and secondly, it sets up the audition for the listener. If I have a disconnected, lackluster or unfriendly slate, it can turn people off right away, before you’ve even gone into the copy. Remember, the slate is the first thing they hear, so it’s either an opportunity to start winning them over, or a chance to turn them off.

When doing auditions from home, I will often slate three times in a row to give myself a choice. It’s interesting to listen back. For some reason, I notice time and time again that the first one almost always comes off as disconnected or even slightly tentative, held back or guarded – it’s really subtle but I can hear it. It seems like I warm up or come alive in the second and third take. More often than not the second one is the winner, as it still has freshness and spontaneity, but sounds more focused, present and friendly – without being overdone or sounding rehearsed.

It’s always weird to hear that first one – why does it sound like that? Why am I doing that? But it’s not really a matter of why, it’s a matter of knowing that’s what I do and working with it.

If  I remember to consciously connect before opening my mouth, I can usually get a good slate the first time around – which is important when auditioning at outside studios or in my agents office. I’m not going to ask them to choose the best of three slates. They just don’t have that kind of time, and would probably think I’m crazy (or a neurotic actor) anyway. But to me there is a subtle difference that does matter in such an incredibly competitive field.

While seemingly innocuous, the slate is a crucial part of your audition. How do you approach slating? Have you thought about this subject as much as I have?

I’d love to hear your thoughts! If you liked this post or found it helpful, please share it…and if you haven’t, be sure to sign up for my blog at the top of this page.

What you don’t know

Posted on March 2, 2014 by rfulginiti No Comments

galaxyFor weeks, I’ve been thinking about something I read. It was actually an excerpt from my horoscope last month. Not exactly the NY Times, I know, but this one part has been working on me, repeatedly.

“ …so you may not actually know that you have massive support across the board, from peers and higher ups as well, and all will cheer you on.”

It makes me think about how true that is in voiceover, for all of us, all of the time. At any given moment, we have no idea who just listened to our audition and moved it to the consideration pile, who came across our demo and said “I’ve got to remember this voice for next time”, who was about to hire us right before they got the phone call that the project’s been postponed or the client wants to go with the opposite sex. We don’t have any idea who’s short list we’re on. We don’t know what good news is conspiring to happen.

Many times we don’t even know if we were on hold for a job. I found this out first hand through my agent one day. We were talking and he mentioned “Oh yeah, most of the time I don’t even get a chance to tell you guys when you’re on hold because it changes so quickly”. I was kind of shocked, and admittedly a little bummed out. Why wouldn’t he at least tell us when we were so close? My ego could have used that information! Ha.

But the truth is, that’s the nature of the business and I get it. He’s super busy. He can’t call each one of us personally the moment our name comes across his desk. His job is to pitch me, let me know when I book something and negotiate that deal – not to coddle me, be my cheerleader or my best friend. It’s my job to keep my spirits up, to assume the best, to believe in unseen forces doing good on my behalf!

So today I suggest to you that you “may not actually know that you have massive support across the board, from peers and higher ups as well, and all will cheer you on.”

Believe the best. They are talking about you, and it’s good. Someone, right now, is quite possibly thinking about hiring you. People believe in your work. And they want to see you succeed.

Know it.

More tips for Becoming a Voice Actor

Posted on February 17, 2014 by rfulginiti No Comments

more-tipsLast week I discussed the number one thing you need to do to get started in voiceover. Here’s a few more suggestions for getting your career off the ground.

1. Learn as much as you can about the industry. That means “getting in the conversation” and immersing yourself with all things VO. A good way to do that is to sign up for quality voiceover blogs and newsletters. You will learn so much! There are so many wonderful VO blogs that it would be too much to list them all here, however I will point you in the direction of several that are “compilation” style. This is an easy way to stay up to date and informed.  Sirenetta Leoni curates a wonderful collection of articles and blogs, adding her own astute insights. Check it out here: Inside Voiceover. Another great one is Derek Chappel‘s Voiceover Blog Talk, which includes his picks for “Top VO Blogs of the Week”.  Scoop.It Voiceover by Dave Courvoisier also offers tons of information in one place. Also be sure to check out Voiceover Extra, a standard for many years in the VO world, founded and run by John Florian. There’s so much great information out there! Have fun exploring and  you will discover many gems.

2. If you don’t have one, start a Twitter page and begin following VO people! You will see tons of useful information, suggestions, tips and links to things that will help you learn and grow. You will also begin establishing yourself within the community and creating friendly alliances. VO people are the best! Be supportive. Retweet, favorite  and comment! Become a part of the community. You can start by following me. Feel free to go through the people I follow – there are TONS of fantastic VO actors, as well as production companies, casting people, agents and more.

3. Once you’re definitely sure VO is for you, you’ll want to get a home studio going. These days everyone needs one. It used to be that all voiceover work was done at fancy outside studios, and you went in to your agency or a casting director for auditions. Now, much of the work and auditions are done from home. If you don’t have a home studio, you will be at a serious disadvantage.  Your setup can be very simple at first! You have no need for a $20K studio right now, just a place to practice practice practice. There is a ton of information online regarding how to set one up, as well as many books on the subject. You might also want to consult an expert in this area. George Whittam and Dan Leonard are two of the go-to guys in our industry. Check out their weekly show East West Audio Body Shop (EWABS). Tim Keenan is also very knowledgable (and an avid tweeter, as well!).

4. Continue to practice, practice, practice. I suggest listening to commercials, writing down the copy and recording yourself voicing them. Then listen back. The is pivotal!  You will hear things you had no idea you were doing, become aware of any bad habits you might have and learn very quickly how you need to tweak your instrument or your approach. I also suggest joining a workout group to practice regularly in a safe setting. If there are no workout groups nearby, start one yourself! Years ago when I was looking to concentrate on Promo, there were no workout groups in town that had that focus, so I started one with three VO pals who shared a similar interest. For a year and a half we went to each other’s houses once/week to practice reading promo scripts. It was so much fun. We established a strong bond and the experience really helped take us to the next level. Likewise, when I was breaking in to audiobooks, I met three amazing women in a weekend workshop and we created a private online support group. Via email, we would send each other narration clips and critique one another’s work, as well as offer each other support and share information about the industry.

5.  Make a demo. Eventually, you will need a voiceover demo. Make that demos, because you will eventually need a different one for each different genre you wish to work in…but in the beginning you can start with a commercial demo. A demo is a compilation of a bunch of clips showcasing the various styles, or “signatures” that you do, usually about one minute long. It should sound like you’re flipping the channels on a radio, hearing snippets of different ads. DO NOT TRY TO MAKE IT YOURSELF! Have it professionally done by someone who knows the industry and the market. If you try to make it yourself, it just won’t sound professional or competitive. So when exactly do you make your demo? Here’s what I heard when I first started out: How do you know when you’re ready to make a demo? When you don’t have to ask that question!

6. Consider joining an online casting site, such as Voices.com or  Voice 123.  These “pay to play” sites offer auditions in exchange for a yearly membership fee. When you join, you not only have unlimited access to scripts (so you can continue to practice) but you are also marketing yourself at the same time. Every audition you do is your name out there to another production company, ad agency or business. Just make sure you are READY to do a job should you book one…and please make sure you keep rates RESPECTABLE! If you are unsure about what respectable rates are, please check the current SAG-AFTRA rates and other rate cards such as Edge Studios, and/or consult with experienced voiceover people in the industry. DO NOT DO JOBS ON FIVERR. DO NOT DRIVE OUR INDUSTRY DOWN BY CHARGING RIDICULOUSLY LOW PRICES; IT HURTS US ALL IN THE END. Know your worth and the value of what you are offering, and stay true to it.

7. Look for an agent. Only now that you are totally prepared, understand the industry, have studied with a bunch of people, have a home studio set up and a demo are you ready to start looking for an agent. Today you don’t necessarily need an agent to be a working VO, but having an agent gives you access to higher paying jobs, union jobs, and is, in my opinion, a crucial step towards being a working professional voiceover artist over the long haul. DO NOT PUT YOURSELF OUT THERE BEFORE YOU ARE READY. Agents have memories like elephants and it’s very difficult to change their opinion of you once they’ve made up their mind. That being said, once you know you’re ready, ask around for referrals if possible, especially from a casting director, producer or other industry professional who likes your work. Consider participating in “agent nights” if there are any in your area. These are workshops where you pay to audition for and receive feedback from an agent – just make sure the place you are going is “legit” and has a stellar reputation. Research regional agents (agents in other parts of the country) online and ask for consideration. Make sure you review their submission guidelines first! Consider joining Voice Registry, a weekly online workout with agents, casting directors and other industry pros.

Just a note of encouragement. It can take a while to secure representation. Don’t give up. Keep good records of who you’ve submitted to and follow up periodically with updates about any work you’ve booked. Eventually, the timing will be right and they will be looking for someone exactly like you!

8. Continue working your butt off. Once you’ve gotten to this phase, the work has only just begun. Now you need to motivate yourself to audition as much as possible, to build your network and your brand. If there isn’t a strong VO community in your area, then start building. Get together for workouts and/or networking. Stay in class and go to casting director workshops. Consider attending Faffcon, an unique peer-led voiceover “un-conference” that happens twice/year.

One more word of advice. Be at the top of your game always; you never know how a meeting, job or exchange will change your life. Be courteous, prompt, professional and fun to work. Most of all, try to stay positive and inspired. Make friends with your colleagues and cheer each other on. Give back and remember what a blessing it is to be able to pursue the career of your dreams!

I hope my series on Starting a Career in VO has been helpful. If you enjoyed this post or know someone who would benefit from it, please share it. For more weekly information, insights and motivation, be sure to subscribe to my blog at the top of this page. Thanks and good luck. You can do this!

Where do I start?

Posted on February 5, 2014 by rfulginiti 3 Comments

Getting-Started2Here’s Part 3 of my series dedicated to the newbie exploring voiceover. If you missed the first two, click the links below!

Ok, so now you know you’re the right kind of person for the job (Is Voiceover for me?) and you know a bit about the industry (Genres in VO) …so where do you start?

First I just want to go ahead and affirm that yes, voiceover is the coolest, most awesome, fun and amazing career on the planet. I say that not to brag or be obnoxious, but to acknowledge that it really is as great as it seems…but because of that it, is not an easy career to just “have”. You don’t just get to have an awesome, high paying successful voice over career without some blood sweat and tears. Even after years of dedication to the craft, not everyone gets to do it full time.

There is a misconception that since anyone can talk, anyone can do voiceover and this is absolutely not so. Like any other craft or art form, it takes years of study, patience and passion. It takes great acting chops. It takes supreme motivation. You can’t really dabble in voiceover. Well, you can, but you won’t get very far. There are just too many people doing ONLY voiceover, at the highest level. It truly takes commitment.

OK, Rachel! But where do I start?

You start with a class. I’d make it a commercial class – you’re going to need to know the craft of commercials, even if you think you don’t want to. A huge portion of the work in this industry is commercial work. Thousands of commercials are produced every day – as opposed to say, animated series – there are comparably far fewer of those produced overall and far fewer actors are even considered for those roles. Commercials will be the genre with the most opportunity when you’re starting out.  As I said in an earlier post, they use all types in commercials and usually want a “real person” sound, so you can start from wherever you’re at. In addition, down the line you might want an agent. Agents will always want to be sure you can do commercials – because there’s more of an opportunity for them to make money too.

Ok. So when I tell people this, about starting with a class, most tend to immediately discount what I’m saying. Their eyes glaze over and they seem to tune out, as if I’m giving them a bullshit answer. But I swear, it is not. Taking a class is the best way to get your feet wet – to explore and find out if you actually even really want to do this. Moreover, voiceover is a CRAFT. I repeat a craft. You need to learn how to play your instrument.

People tend to think that just because they can speak, they can automatically do voiceover but this is far from the case. That would be like saying because I can walk (or shake my booty on the dance floor) I can be a professional dancer. You will not be able to seriously compete in this marketplace without solid training; it’s a fact. Take a class to start developing the skills that you will be honing for a long time. Preparation is key. If you are truly committed to this, look at it as becoming an Olympic athlete. You don’t just decide you want to be a gymnast and then go be a gymnast- you TRAIN first.

Now, there are a lot of people in this industry that are more than happy to separate you from your money. They tend to pray on beginners with big dreams and open pockets. Be smart. There is nothing better than word of mouth in terms of finding the right teacher.  If someone promises you the keys to the kingdom – or some secret on how to become an instant success – run the other way. Ask experienced professionals who they studied with and who they recommend. They will tell you.

Since I’m in LA, I can recommend some teachers out here, but I can’t speak to anywhere else in the country. My advice would be to put the feelers out there. If you don’t know anyone personally, do some research online. Find out who the teachers are in your area and if you can’t find any, reach out to other respected voice actors. Shoot them a quick email and ask if they can recommend anyone (and be sure to thank them!). There’s also something called The Voiceover Resource Guide (VORG). It has tons of information on training, rates and all things voiceover.

To help you out on your journey, here’s a short list of teachers that I can recommend in the Los Angeles area. Some of them travel or do remote classes, so even if you’re not in LA, it’s worth checking them out. Keep in mind, these aren’t the only ones I recommend – just a few key ones that I think are good for the beginner.

The Voicecaster - This is where I started so I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for these guys. They are the real deal. I took beginner, intermediate and advanced with them and then I went to their workout group pretty much every Thursday night for a year straight. Then they made my commercial demo – which incidentally I still get booked off of all the time! The benefit to studying at Voicecaster is that in addition to teaching, they are casting directors as well…so you are not only learning, but you’re developing relationships with people who can call you in and CAST you in the future. And they will!

Kalmenson & Kalmenson – These guys are the other big casting director/voiceover school in town. I have never actually studied with them but I know so many people who have! Like Voicecaster, they are kind of an institution here in LA, so you should definitely check them out.

The VO Dojo -Tish Hicks is a good friend and a consummate voice actor who has been in the biz a long time. She has a weekend intensive called “You should do Voiceover” for the newbie looking to explore the field, as well as a program of study that can serve as a road map for getting started. She’s really loving, supportive and wonderfully knowledgeable.

Nancy Wolfson- I’ve never studied with Nancy but I’ve heard great things. I know she has an entire series designed to take you from newbie to pro. She’s got an excellent reputation as smart, no nonsense and sharp as a tack.

Pat Fraley - You’ll hear me wax poetic about Pat in my upcoming audiobook post, but I couldn’t neglect to mention him here. He is a wonderful teacher. He’s been in the business forever. He’s generous, funny, insightful and he has MAD SKILLS! If you’re interested in character work, animation or audiobooks, don’t miss out on an opportunity to study with Pat.

These are only a handful of the many fine teachers in Los Angeles. As I mentioned before, the best way to find teachers – wherever you are – is word of mouth. Get involved in the local community and ask around. You will keep hearing the same names pop up. You’ll know what to do!

Btw, if you end up going to any of the teachers I’ve listed, let them know how you heard about them. Also, I’d love to see comments about any other amazing VO teachers – if you have any other suggestions, please leave a comment. And if you enjoyed this post please share it!

There’s so much more to write about getting started in VO, but I’m going to leave it here for now. Taking a class is Step 1. Join me next week for a few more tips (I think this just turned into a four part series!). If you’re interested, be sure to sign up for my blog at the top of this page.

Genres in VO

Posted on January 23, 2014 by rfulginiti 2 Comments

Categories

Part 2: Genres in Voiceover.

Last week I started a 3 part series on Getting into Voiceover. Hopefully I didn’t scare you away! If you missed it, you can find it here: Is VO for me?

Before tackling how to actually get started (…I know I promised that last week!), I realized it’s good for newbies to know a bit about the industry itself and it’s various opportunities. Voiceover is comprised of many different genres, each with their own flavor (and superstars!). Here are the 10 main categories:

1. Commercials: Radio or TV ads. One of the most lucrative genres with the most amount of work. You should most likely start here. If you talk to any VO agent, they will tell you to start with commercials first, for a number of reasons. Firstly, there are more commercials being produced daily than there are animated series, for instance; there are so many new opportunities everyday. Secondly, generally speaking they are looking for “real” voices, so no matter what your voice type or sound, you will be good for commercials. (The thing they don’t want these days is an old time announcer-y sound! It’s all about being real).

2. Trailers/Promos:  Trailers of course are promotional pieces for films. Promos are essentially commercials for TV shows – they appear in between shows to promote what’s coming up.  They can also be heard on the radio. This is an extremely competitive genre. Comparatively few spots for newbies, as most people who have those jobs, keep those jobs. Super lucrative as it tends to be on-going work. You have to have a voice that “cuts through” as they say – meaning a strong voice that will be heard over music and sound effects. Very male dominated. This is hopefully changing, but very slowly…most networks still only use male announcers unless it’s a female oriented network or show.

3. Games/Toys: Video games are a hugely growing industry. Must be great at doing multiple characters, and being good at different accents/dialects is a big plus. Acting chops are beneficial, as games now tend towards realism and usually include very dramatic high stakes situations. You also must have stamina – sessions can be long and very physically taxing. A sturdy instrument is a must, as there is usually a lot of screaming and dying to do. Toys are a niche industry that encompass talking dolls and games for youngsters. If you have a knack for doing kids voices, that’s a serious plus!

4. Animation: Again must be able to do multiple characters. This is the most competitive, smallest niche of the VO world. There are not too many of these jobs out there to begin with, and they tend to go to the same people because they are just so darn good! Why look elsewhere when you have someone with a proven track record that can do just about any character, voice, age that you can think of. Many animation people are also writers and or comedians. It helps to be really quick witted, to be able to ad-lib and be funny while staying real. Everyone wants these jobs. If this is your hearts desire, go for it. But work hard and develop your talents to the very top of your ability! It will take some time.

5. ADR (Automated Dialogue Replacement)/Looping: The voices you hear in the background of movies and/or dialogue that needs to be replaced on a film. For background work, you have to be very well-versed in a wide variety of subjects to be able to successfully pull off talking realistically about whatever people would be talking about – for instance if the movie takes place in France in the 1800’s- you need to know what they’d be talking about, the phrases they would use, etc. This is a pretty difficult one to get into as well, as most people work in a loop group, or team of people, and the same teams are hired over and over again. This pays very well but I think you’d really have to have a knack for this kind of thing and a lot of focused direction to get into a successful working group. Another example in this genre is voice matching. It is often used for celebrity voices. For example, they don’t want to pay Julia Roberts to come back for the day (or she just won’t come) but something she says in the movie is garbled, so they hire someone who can sound like Julia to do a voice match.

6. Telephony: Phone trees, on hold messages, IVR (Interactive Voice Response): You usually need a polished and professional yet friendly sound for this. (Telephony is a strange secret love of mine; kind of a guilty pleasure, like Dancing with the Stars! It doesn’t pay the greatest, but for some reason I find it fun and super easy!)

7. Web Videos/New Media: “Explainer” or promotional videos that appear on a companies or person’s website, explaining a product or service. Also includes voices for new media games and apps. (You can see several examples of Explainer videos to the right of this post).

8. ELearning/Industrials: Narration for training and/or educational purposes.

9. In-show narration/Documentary narration: Narration that occurs during a tv show or a movie, furthering the plot and unfolding the story.

10. Audiobooks: The ultimate long-form. I’m going to devote a whole new post to this in the future because it’s basically a different industry (and approach) all together. Must have incredible stamina, vocal health and strength. Must love books and story-telling. Must be good at accents/dialects and research.

Ok, so now you know the genres, but where do you start? Join me next week for the last in my 3 part series of Getting Started in Voiceover. Be sure to sign up for my blog at the top of this page. And if you liked this post or found it helpful, please share it!

 

Is VO for me?

Posted on January 12, 2014 by rfulginiti 4 Comments

Is-this-for-meHappy New Year! I hope it’s gotten off to a great start so far. Since January is all about new beginnings and fresh energy, I’m dedicating my blog this month to the newcomer. I get so many questions from people wanting to “get into voiceovers”. So, in the spirit of a freshness and resolutions, I crown January the Month of the Newbie. This is my first of a three part series.

Lots of people who ask about vo as a career aren’t necessarily ready to jump right in. Rather, they’re in the “thinking about it” stage. They have an idea in their head, maybe a nagging voice that keeps saying “What about voiceover?” or “I think I could do it” or “Wow, that would be awesome!” I thought it might be helpful to discuss some of the traits it helps to posses in order to be a successful VO. I’m not saying without these things you won’t succeed but having these qualities can certainly help. If you’re seriously thinking about voiceover as a career, be honest with yourself when reading this list. How many do you possess? What can you work to cultivate?

1. Are you a self-starter? Voiceover is a freelance lifestyle, and the freelance lifestyle is not for everyone. You need to be good at creating your own goals and deadlines, setting your own hours and sticking to them, motivating yourself to do the work whether or not money is involved. You need to invest time and money into this career with no one calling the shots but yourself. You’ll need to go to classes, workshops and networking events. You will need to practice practice practice and remain energized and focused despite the rejection and inevitable disappointments.

2. Are you a good multitasker? Being a VO requires you to constantly be multitasking – recording and editing, emailing and invoicing, uploading and sharing. The list goes on. The number of things I do in a day are so varied. Often times, I’m working on a project when something comes in from another client who is in a time crunch and needs something right away. I need to be able to prioritize and shift gears if necessary.

3. (On that note) Are you ok with no routine being your routine? My schedule changes on a day to day basis depending on what comes up. Often times auditions come in and need to be turned around right away- the same thing with jobs. I also have to balance going into my agency with working from home and going to outside sessions and castings as well. For some people (like me!) this is actually a good thing – I get bored easily and I felt so trapped and heartsick when I had a 9-5 job. It lasted about two years and broke down my spirit. But some people truly like and thrive on having a routine in their lives. As a VO, you can try to have a plan, but I guarantee you it will change almost every day. It’s the nature of the business.

4. Do you have acting experience? I actually use the term voice actor to describe myself, not voice over person, because that’s exactly what I am. Voiceover is acting, pure and simple. Often times I hear people say, Well, people have told me I have a good voice… It’s not about having a good voice- IT REALLY ISN’T! People often marvel at how quickly I became successful in this career, but honestly I believe it’s because I’ve been doing this for twenty years in one way or another. I went to college for acting. I lived in NYC and went to a two year acting conservatory after that. I did stage and on-camera for 10 years. I came to Los Angeles and did more acting. Then I studied for an entire year before putting myself out there as a VO. If you don’t have any acting experience and you want to be a voice over person, you will definitely be at a disadvantage. That doesn’t mean you can’t succeed, but taking a basic acting class will help a lot.

5. Are you a risk taker? Are you willing to work really really hard at this and spend lots and lots of money with no guarantees? Most successful VO’s I know are part risk taker, part adventurer, and part eternal optimist. It helps to be someone who is ok with not knowing what’s coming down the pike and rarely knowing where your next job is coming from, while trusting that it’s all going to work out great. I’ve found my connection to spirituality and a Higher Power an integral part of my success in this business. Without it, it would just be too scary. But I always come back to my faith and it helps me to navigate without being able to see around the corners. And when I think about it, I’ve always been kind of a gambler. I like challenges, I believe in the long shot, and I keep my eye on the prize.

6. Do you love it enough that you’d do it for free? To me, this is probably the single most important thing about pursuing a career in this field. My secret marvel whenever I’m leaving a session (my heart totally singing every time) is this: “The funny thing is, they have no idea…I’d do this for free!”. I love it that much. I also love it enough to keep my chops up with regular classes, workshops and workout groups. No one can give you passion, and you can’t make yourself have it. But if you have it, you know it’s there and it keeps a fire lit during the darkest of your days. There’s a difference between liking something (even liking it a lot) and LOVING it. There’s also a difference between wanting to do something, and pure desire. I submit that for VO, wanting it isn’t enough- you have to truly desire it – and the REALITY of the lifestyle and everything that comes along with it. It’s not for everyone. But if you have it, it will get you through. And just a sidebar: please, don’t kid yourself by thinking it’s easy money. Don’t do it for the money. Yes, we make great money. But we work hard to get there and it’s not about the money. If you’re looking to go into vo because you think it will be an easy way to make money you will proabably be disappointed. Love the work.

7. Are you a good business person? This one is huge. It’s such a cliche but it’s so true…it’s show BUSINESS. You have to know how to run yours well. Do you know how to communicate with the people you work with in the business world? Can you under promise and over deliver? Do you have a good affect – being prompt, keeping your word, showing up prepared and being pleasant to work with? Are you persistent? Organized? Do you know how to market yourself effectively (without being annoying)? Do you manage your money well? Some of the most successful voiceover people I know started out in the business world. They know how it works. Being a creative my whole life, it’s something I’ve had to work on – although I do credit that 9-5 job with giving me the basic skills I needed. (See, everything is for a reason!)

8. How’s your self confidence? Do you have a thick skin in terms of rejection? Are you your own best ally or your own worst enemy? If you choose a career in voiceover, you will definitely experience rejection, near wins that ultimately pan out as losses, almosts and might have beens. You will think you nailed it and then never hear back. You will be hired on an amazing project and then replaced. You will not know why. It’s all part of the job. The awesome part is actually getting a job – but the reality is that your career will be mostly auditioning. It’s so important to believe in yourself and know that when a door closes, another one always opens.

9. How about your people skills? Even though we all work from home a lot these days, this is still a people business. Every time you make a connection, whether it’s in person at a session or a casting or online through email or social media, you need to remember that people hire and help people that they LIKE! People who are well rounded, with other interests. Have something to talk about. Be polite. Be fun to work with. Be curious about others. And please remember your manners! I can’t tell you how many times someone has reached out to me to ask for help “breaking in to the biz” and I take the time to write them back or talk to them on the phone…and I never even get a thank you! I’m serious. It’s kind of shocking! This is a very small community and people have good memories. Be kind. Be personable. Be grateful. And if someone helps you, give back to someone else. Pay it forward.

10. Do you have another job/income that will support you on this journey? Do you have space in your life for it? You will need to invest a lot of time, energy and money getting your voiceover career off the ground. When I first started I worked three jobs for a year and a half, to cover expenses like classes and building my home studio. I had a plan with a timeline. Among other things, I worked at the Census for a year and half, which was the perfect job as the hours were flexible and it was a nice steady income. If you try to make voiceover your primary source of income too soon, it will be incredibly stressful. Have a way to support your dream and all it takes to build it. Make sure you have time in your schedule to allow it to work.

I hope these thoughts have helped you in some way to decide if voiceover as a career is for you. Next week I’ll be covering how to actually get started. Join me by subscribing to my blog at the top of this page. And if you enjoyed this post, please share it!

AMC’s The Pitch

Posted on September 5, 2013 by rfulginiti


Tomorrow night I’ll be featured in AMC’s The Pitch, as a part of Neuron Syndicate’s campaign idea for client Tommy Bahama. Well, I don’t know if I’ll actually be featured, as no one, not even the ad agencies themselves, know what the episode looks like – they will be watching it for the first time on Thursday night, right along with everyone else.

If you’re a commercial voice actor (or on-camera actor) and you’ve never seen The Pitch, you must. It is a really educational show that reveals the behind the scenes of ad agencies and their process in creating a campaign.

I work with ad agencies every day. It’s my job to be the icing on the cake, so to speak – that final touch that complements an idea that has been in the works and mulled over by a whole team of people for weeks, months or sometimes, in the case of this show, just a couple of days! Watching this show gives me such a better sense of what goes on and how as actors we’re just a small – albeit integral – part of the entire process. Seems obvious, but as performers, sometimes it’s easy to live in a vacuum of “It’s all about me”. It so really isn’t!

I’ve been watching The Pitch since its debut last year. For me, it’s honestly like doing homework. Fun homework! I get to learn more about my craft from a completely different angle. It’s kind of like working in restaurant as a waiter and then getting to do a night as the host. OH! Now I see why she doesn’t just seat people at the open tables I’m noticing… I also get to learn about all of these specific ad agencies that happen to be in Los Angeles, which is where I live!

Watching the show is also kind of oddly interactive and fun, if you play along. When my husband and I watch, we pause it just after the first client meeting, and we brainstorm on how we would approach the problem to be solved. Okay, am I revealing my inner geek, here or what? Probably! But it’s interesting to see how close we get to their ideas. On that note, I am usually blown away by the creativity of the agencies – the things they come up with and how they execute what the client is going for…totally fascinating to watch the process!

So, tomorrow (Thursday 9/5) at 8pm PST/11pm EST, check out AMC’s The Pitch. Not just because I’m a part of it. It really is one of the coolest reality shows I’ve ever seen…and it’s actually educational for us geeks…I mean, actors. Real life Mad Men!

Reflections on a Decade

Posted on August 1, 2013 by rfulginiti

Me & Joe in our first year together; Palm Springs

It was 10 years ago today that I set out on a plane with two bags and an unknown future ahead of me. I landed at the Beverly Garland Holiday Inn in Studio City for a week long “audition for the LA agents” week that ended up being the next decade of my life.

I remember I woke up early the next morning and took a walk down to Ventura. I was looking for something to eat and stumbled upon the big Ralph’s grocery store. I went inside where I immediately saw William H. Macy in the produce section. Wow, stars really are everywhere! I smiled at him but was afraid to say hi.

Next I’m walking down Ventura Blvd and I pull my phone out. I dial my ex. We were broken up but still enmeshed.

I’m not leaving. I state it simply and emphatically. Huh? I’m not leaving. I love it here. I’m staying. And he says the only thing that would truly, in an instant, let me go. Cool. Yeah! You should. Oh. Ok. It’s settled then. So easy, huh? Just like that. And I decide on the spot, once and for all, that yes, I should.

Over the next four days I audition with some casting directors, get an audition for a play in Venice which I miss, because I don’t know how to get out there, spend a weird overnight in a seedy motel with a guy from my agency I barely know and then take a bus out to the West Side. 3 hours later I’m at the beach and looking for a hostel. I decide on the Venice Beach Cotel because it’s right there on Windward overlooking the ocean. I get a bunk bed in a girl’s dorm room with a window view of the sea. I am home.

I spend the next two weeks walking the beach, having a brief and steamy tryst with a strange and funky Jamaican hippie who I suspect is both homeless and certifiably insane. I smoke pot with drifters and store owners and accept charity from complete strangers. A guy takes me out for sushi one night and seafood the next, no strings attached. I feel pretty and exotic and free. A dude thanks me in a coffee shop for just being me. If I wasn’t already, I am now falling madly in love with California.

One day I’m walking along the boardwalk and I see a sign for a free yoga class on the beach. I think why not and I do it. In the middle of the massive beige expanse, we do asanas and talk about our lives. Why are we there? A guy admits that his brother recently died and he is getting over it. I say I just came out here and I think I’m staying but really, I have no idea what I’m doing. The yogis invite us to a free dinner as the sun goes down. I’m pretty sure they are Hare Krishnas but I can hang with that; a free dinner is a free dinner.

I end up sitting next to that guy who’s brother passed away. We start talking. What kind of music do you like? he asks me. Lots of stuff, but mostly heavy psychedelic rock n roll. Really? He looks over at me with curious eyes, surprise and delight palpable. Yeah. That’s cool. You would probably like my band. Right on. Listen, I have to go to the bathroom- do you think there’s one around here? You don’t want to go to the bathrooms around here. I live right down the street- you can go at my house. And I know, I just know, this guy is not a serial killer. Or a rapist. I’ve traveled around the world. I can feel these things. Ok sure. We go back to his place and  wow, his place is cool… Art all over the walls. Musical instruments. I am feeling this. Did you do these paintings? Yes Nice I go to the bathroom. He burns me a cd of his band. He writes his name and number on it. He invites me to a party they’re playing at in two weeks. Call me if you want to come. Ok cool.  Thanks for the bathroom! And I sink out into the cool oceany night.


I’m running low on money. I pull my last cash together and head to Rent a Wreck, where I indeed rent a wreck. I make it across town to my only friend in LA’s place. It’s in Silverlake. She is super freakin cool to put me up in her little guest suite. I am so grateful. That Friday rolls around and I remember the party invitation. I’ve been listening to the cd and I’m intrigued. It’s surprisingly good. Really. I call the number on the cd. Hey this is Rachel, that girl from the beach. Are you still having that party? He is. He gives me awesome A-plus directions from my doorstep to someplace called Highland Park. My friend doesn’t want to go to the party. I say fuck it. I want to go. I don’t know anybody here and I’ve got to meet people somehow. I go. I get there. I tell the guy instantly, You don’t have to take care of me, I have traveled all over the world, I’m cool. I can take care of myself. My mantra. I meet all these people and somehow feel like I’ve been here before. I talk to everyone and have a blast. It finally feels like time to go, somewhere around 2 am. I find the guy and say hey thanks I love your friends I had a really good time! Wait there’s one more person I want you to meet. He’s an East Coast Italian just like you. I think you’ll really like him. He grabs my hand and walks me across two rooms. “Rachel, Joe, Joe, Rachel”.

The rest turns into the next decade of my life. It’s a good decade. A freakin great decade. The best one of my life, by far.   It is a decade that started with lots of magic. Magic born of risk taking and instinct following. Magic synthesized from willingness and a pure desire for change. The energy and positivity of new beginnings and second chances. The purity of strange frontiers.

The next ten years are fun, challenging and beyond my wildest dreams. We get married.  I sing and tour with a horror punk band. We write and record our own music and finally my troubled poetry has a place to live. I give up on-camera acting and explore careers. I wait tables and manage restaurants. I almost go back to school a thousand times. I create and host an internet radio show. It does well and spawns an internet tv show. It gets cancelled. I dance. I find voiceover and my life changes again dramatically and for the very best. I finally begin making money doing what I love. We get a dog.  I get an agent and then a better agent and then an even better one. I book national commercials. I study my butt off. I make friends and become part of a beautiful community. I break into audiobooks. I get back into yoga. We walk through personal struggles and medical scares I never in a million years thought would be ours. We get stronger. We find ourselves here.

Now many of the puzzle pieces are in place. There are still so many more to find homes for. It feels right to be starting a new chapter and it’s comforting to know, this time, I’m not starting from scratch. If the last ten years were foundation building, these next ten are dedicated to deepening and growing my dreams even further. Here’s to a brand new decade of discovery, with all it’s unknown mysteries yet to be revealed.  Happy Anniversary to me.

Recap of APAC 2013

Posted on June 13, 2013 by rfulginiti
Friends at the Audies

Heather Henderson, Rachel Fulginiti, Gary Dikeos, Amy Rubinate, Robin Ray Eller at the Audies 2013

Well the dust has settled and I think I’m finally recovered from my week in NY for APAC (Audio Publisher’s Association Conference) and the Audies. It is always such a great time, but definitely a whole lot of output. Combined with a weekend jaunt upstate to visit my family, it was an action-packed seven day merry-go-round that didn’t stop. Very fun but pretty exhausting!

I first went to APAC in 2010. It was a great experience back then, but such a different one. I remember feeling so strange and out of place, knowing hardly anyone and wanting so desperately to become a part of the community. I am happy to report that 3 years later, it feels as if things have definitely shifted. I felt so comfortable and at home, reuniting with people I hadn’t seen in a long time, or have only seen on Facebook. It was especially great to see people I’ve worked for but have never actually gotten to meet! Tons of great conversations and genuine connection.

The day started off with a bang as I got to read for Cory at eChristian, during my Director Diagnostic. Cory and I connected on many different levels; he was just great. The rest of the day was filled with informative panels and ended with a nice happy hour and then dinner with some good friends.

The next day I got to audition for and then tour the Audible studios headquarters in Newark, NJ. What a cool place! I loved the open “.com” atmosphere- so progressive and modern! I think it would be a great place to go to work every day. They hosted a whole day of workshops regarding self-recording, which were very informative and helpful.

That night (after locking myself in a closet to record a spot for a client on the West Coast who was in a jam) my flat-mates and I got decked out and went to the Audies. The Audies are like the Oscars of Audiobooks. The highest honors in the community, the best talent all in one place; it really is a glamorous and special affair. Everyone is in a great mood, it’s such a jovial atmosphere and it really is a great chance to hang out with people outside of a “networking” setting, simply just being people and having fun. The highlight of my night was getting to talk to Julia Whelan about her awesome narration of one of my favorite audiobooks of the year “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn.

Me with Gary Dikeos, Hillary Huber and Pat Fraley

The next day I met a friend (who graciously came with me while I retraced my steps back to the place where I was staying, after realizing I had left a drawer full of clothes and jewelry-whoops!) Then I headed upstate on the Metro North about an hour and a half to New Paltz, where I’m from.

My whole family still lives in New Paltz. Like, all of them! Extended family- siblings, nieces, aunts and uncles- so the good thing is, I get to see everyone in a very short amount of time. The challenging thing is that I have to see everyone in a very short amount of time!

The next day we visited the Catskill Animal Sanctuary with my nieces. Lots of petting and animal love.

Rachel with a pig from Catskill Animal Sanctuary

Me with a sleepy pig at Catskill Animal Sanctuary

Then it was one more day of visiting and suddenly it was time to head back to Newark to catch a plane back to my life out West. I have to say, it is wonderful to visit back East, to feel the energy of the Big Apple and the calm familiarity of the Hudson Valley. But it is always nice coming home…with many new memories to treasure!

Robin Ray Eller, Cris Dukehart and myself

Gary Dikeos Interview

Posted on June 8, 2013 by rfulginiti

June is Audio Book month and we’re celebrating. Just back from APAC (Audiobook Publisher’s Association Conference) in New York and definitely feeling the love for our tight knit and talented community! Audiobook peeps are some of the nicest and most interesting people in the world. I sat down last night with my good friend and awesome narrator Gary Dikeos for a short chat about audiobooks.

Gary and I are part of a project going all month long entitled “Going Public…In Shorts“. In honor of #JIAM2013, one or two stories every day of the month are being released. The selections are all short stories in the public domain and they’re being read by an impressive list of today’s top audiobook narrators.  The stories will be available for streaming, but better yet, if you purchase the story, it is a donation benefitting Reach Out and Read, so please do consider making the purchase. At $1.95, it’s a steal and it’s benefitting a great cause!

This project was conceived and produced by the one and only Xe Sands. If you haven’t checked out Xe, you must. She is quite amazing. A lover of all things audiobooks and an absolute maverick at social media, she is an innovator and a doer – and that just feels inspiring to be around. Check out her sweet project for The Velveteen Rabbit here.

To listen to Gary’s story click here.

To purchase it, click here

Want to hear more?

To check out yesterday’s offering, read by Audie Award winning narrator Simon Vance, featured My Books My Life blog, click here.

To see what’s in the pipeline for tomorrow, visit Teresa’s Reading Corner.

Thanks for watching and listening! If you liked this post, please do share it!