Behind the Mic: Alyson Steel
What radio VO work have you done in the past either in stations or markets?
Tons of Commercials – too numerous to count over the last 20 something years. Including National, Regional and local markets. (and international as well!) Also Imaging around the country in small and mid sized markets as well as Los Angeles.
What are you up to presently?
Tons of TV/Radio Commercials, Infomercials (But wait- there’s more!), Imaging, Promos, telephony, TTS and narrations also keep me busy.
Check out Alyson’s Demos:
What do you love about your job?
My clients are very cool. People in this industry understand things like – “I need to go to yoga early in the morning to warm up my voice and that also helps me be a happy VO artist and not a grumpy person if I don’t get to do my practice. As well as understanding things like “Mercury is in retrograde which is why things can get a bit wonky. Clients in VO get those psychological things. 😉
Wearing comfy clothing. I can’t imagine dressing business casual every day LOL.
How did you get started as a VO actor?
I started as an on camera actor – and still do that when I get the opportunity. I trained in the Theatre in HS in NYC and then started working in the business professionally and then after grad school came to LA and thats when i got the Voice Over Bug – but I trained and honed my Skills- honoring the profession and taking my time. Paid my dues etc.
What was your first gig?
Funny enough – it was the MOM in “All dogs to go Heaven 3”. I got cut out but still get residuals – thanks to a great SAG residuals systyem. 😉
Would love to do more animation – and take it when I can get it – but it isn’t my mainstay.
Any memorable ones since then?
Well one job that has yet to make it to market but ought to soon– I signed a 16 page NDA and can’t tell anyone about – but when it DOES come out – it will be pretty GIANT and basically be in MANY people’s homes.
A Current Fun one Men would recognize: I’m the Voice of Pajamagram and Vermont Teddy bear for the last 6+ years….
Who are your VO idols or mentors?
Mentors: Marice Tobias for sure.
Idols: Tara Strong and Mark Hamill – I would love to do more animation, and she is amaze balls at the craft. He’s insanely talented. And BOTH are incredibly lovely people.
If you weren’t doing voiceover, what else do you think you’d be doing for a career?
I adore ASL and would have strived to become fluent and a translator.
What did it feel like the first time you heard your voice on the radio/television?
I was filled with glee and thought ‘Oh my gosh how cool is that?’ I also took (and still do) a second when I hear myself currently- and say – ‘hey that woman sounds familiar….’ and then I realize ‘wait -it’s me!’ LOL
How has new technology changed the way you work?
Truthfully- Work is easier – you never have to leave your home – which is why I got a dog initially because I was diagnosed with LOW vitamin D….yeah In Los Angeles. How ironic is that? There are days I wouldn’t leave and just keep knocking out jobs and auditions….
Also, you don’t have to go to your agents office – though WME Likes when I come by and show face – but mostly, I read from home.
What gear do you use on the road? In your studio?
On the road: Mac Pro and the Apogee Mic – recording onto twisted Wave – and building wound forts and blanlets over my head serve as the makeshift booth. 😉
At home: ISO Booth. Twisted Wave. AKG Mic. CA projects pre 73 jr. And an ambient round it all out.
Which production system do you use and why?
Twisted Wave. I don’t produce and I use a MAC. It’s the most stable platform and super simple.
Any favorite plugins?
Loud max. Adds depth and volume.
Have you ever had a voice coach?
Absolutely! I’ve had Several.
Would you recommend it?
100%. Michael Phelps has a coach – Athletes have coaches. People have life coaches…..It’s something I think is not only necessary to learn the lay of the land in a new industry but mentally important.
How do you schedule and prioritize your work?
Working from home – people think that it’s easy and you don’t have to report to anyone. But it is just as demanding as going to an office in some ways.
In terms of scheduling, I always prioritize on what needs to get out ASAP to a client. Sometimes it is within an hour sometimes within 3 hours or end of day and sometimes things can wait til the next day. So I try and handle work as it comes in and go from there. Moment by moment. It’s being able to juggle and being in the flow of the present moment to determine what gets done when.
How much time do you spend auditioning for new work?
Sometimes a few hours a day – sometimes a few minutes a day.
Today I only had 2 auditions but a bunch of work. Other days I can spend an hour or two banging out auditions. It just depends on the day.
How do you market your services to potential clients?
If I told you – I would have to kill you. HA. Just kidding.
I used to go on the ‘pay to plays’ to meet many new clients and I still do to some degree – that said – I reach out by doing Google searches and using the internet and following up on leads. It’s an ongoing, ever present process.
When it comes to VO work, studio & gear, what are your most ingenious methods or discoveries for saving time and cash?
To save time and cash – I don’t get overly caught up in the technical aspects of VO — only focusing on that – which I see a LOT of newcomers as well as VO’s who aren’t working a lot, seem to do. It gives them something to chew on – when in fact they are really wasting a lot of time.
I have an “audio guy” and a “Computer (MAC) Guy”….My students laugh – “You have a guy for everything!…” So I have everything done and set and I pay for it and they help me – but to spin your wheels on all things technical is ridiculous. That is not going to help you do a better read and performance. My mom used to say – K.I.S.S : Keep it Simple Stupid. (Nowadays I leave off the last “S” LOL) but that is to say – if it is getting complicated for yourself – then youre on the wrong track and concentrating on the wrong things.
What is the best voice processing trick or voice-over technique everyone should know?
There are so many: So when I think of only 1 – I’ll get back to you. LOL 😉
Do you have a different approach to reading radio imaging copy as opposed to TV or Radio commercial ads?
Absolutely! Totally different animal.
Even though all of the VO genres wildly differ, the commercial techniques I use and teach will infuse into EVERY read.
Can you offer 3 helpful tips for newbies trying to make it in the voice-over industry?
- Get training. Lots of training. Get a coach. Someone you can count on and feel 100% supported by. Your coach should make you feel as though you are safe and taken care of and that you aren’t missing out on ANYTHING and that you are fully integrated in the VO world.
- Practice. Rehearse.
- So: Get training. Get a coach and rehearse.
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