When I was an on-camera actress, I thought I could do everything. I didn’t want to limit myself, so I never really defined myself. Years later I recognized when approaching voice acting that I needed to do things differently.
I found out early on that in the voiceover world, commercials offer the largest amount of work and are the place to start. This is so with on-camera as well, but I never took that advice. I was pretty much a foolish snob back in those days, considering myself “above” commercials. I wanted to make “art”. I didn’t want to sell toothpaste. Boy, did ten years in the Biz “school” me and make me humble. I realized that selling toothpaste is just as much of an “art” as playing a character in a film. There is skill and creativity in both.
When I began my career in VO, I decided to do just about everything differently; to really approach my voiceover career in a strategic way, as opposed to the “willy-nilly” way I approached my career in the past – stretching myself across all platforms and taking everything that came my way – letting that define me instead of defining myself and then going after what I wanted.
So, I decide to start with commercials this time around and study, study, study before entering the market. I took classes for about a year before making my demo. I found a new respect for the commercial voice over artist and learned to love commercials. I love the way everything is wrapped up neatly in 30 or 60 seconds. I love the opportunity to be light and carefree in a world where there’s so much darkness. I like to help solve people’s problems and with commercials I can do that on two levels: I solve the advertiser’s problem of communicating their message in a quick and believable way and I also solve the problem of what I like to call the “30 second play” – conflict resolution for the characters in the ad, conquered with a product or service. Everyone lives happily ever after; imagine if life were so simple!
Once I had been voicing commercials for about a year I decided to focus on promos (the short ads you see between television shows, announcing what’s coming on next). I felt I had the voice for it and I loved the idea of a job where there is consistent work. If you’re lucky enough to voice for a show, you will regularly be needed for updates and pickups as the show date and time move closer. I also liked the challenge and musicality of promos. How can I tell this story in just a few seconds? How can I grab the listener’s attention and make this sing?
Again, I studied for about a year before making my demo. I went to classes, workshops, studied privately and even formed a workout group with 3 colleagues. We met at each other’s houses every Friday for over a year and worked together, practicing scripts we’d painstakingly copied from our DVR’s one sentence at a time. Finally, I made my demo and put myself out there.
With two rock solid demos and lots of training under my belt, I was able to secure representation with a competitive agent, which ultimately led to representation with one of the top 3 agencies in the world. Today, I am blessed to make a wonderful living in commercials and promos, as well as audiobooks, another genre with which I’ve had my own unique and specific journey.
I have found that being strategic about the way I’ve put myself out there has helped establish me in the genre and helped me to feel confident and secure before moving on and expanding my repertoire. Have you been “strategic” in your career? What strategies have you used?
About Rachel Fulginiti:
Rachel is a voice actor, blogger and audiobook narrator living in Los Angeles. Represented by William Morris Endeavor, she can be heard worldwide voicing for brands such as McDonalds, Kia, Fox, Apple and Target, to name a few. She leads the VO Pro Series (link) at Deyan Institute, and contributes monthly to the Deyan Institute blog. For more information or to sign up for her weekly voiceover blog “Rachel Has Spoken”, visit http://rachelfulginiti.com/