Renita Gale on How NOT to Fail
What radio VO work have you done in the past? I’m actually not affiliated with any radio stations. I’ve been a voiceover actor for gosh… on and off for over 20 years but most seriously for the last 8 years. I’ve done a lot of radio advertising work as an actress. Additionally, I do regular work for Pandora.com and am a regular who does a good portion of their advertising.
What are you up to presently? Presently I’m freelance. I’m represented by several agencies and managers all over the country that have different districts and territories that they cover. And then like I said I also work for Pandora.com independently as well. I’m not currently on staff anywhere although I am also a casting director and I’ve had a casting business for the last 15 or so years.
What do you love about working as a freelance VO talent? Working as a freelance voice over talent is my dream and it’s always been my dream job. I love acting in general, but one of my favorite things is getting to be myself as performance and getting to use my voice is just so much fun. I love being able to manipulate my voice for things. Being a casting director for so long I’ve gotten a really good grip on what clients are looking for when they write copy and how they want it performed. It’s wonderful to take all of my casting expertise and then turn it into expertise as an actor, specifically a voice actor. And I love that I can go to work wearing anything and my make-up doesn’t need to be done.
How did you get started as a VO actor? What was your first gig? The other passion in my life is the world of growth and development and the power of transforming brain patterns in order to transform life, or some people might also call it Law of Attraction. This is something I’ve been studying and also a practitioner in for the better part of the last 2 decades. About 8 years ago I created a transformational declarations .mp3 for actors and I did it in my own voice as the talent. It’s 48 present-time declarations for actors to basically reprogram their brains and reprogram their experiences in the world and thus the outcome of their outer world. Shortly after I made that and it started to sell, people kept writing me asking who was the voice on the .mp3 and when I would tell them it was me everyone’s response was the same saying, “Oh my gosh you have the most amazing voice you should be a voice actor.” I reached out to a voice agency I did a lot of business with as a casting director and I gave them my .mp3 and they signed me immediately. And then from there, my first big job was voicing a series of hospice spots.
Have you ever had a voice coach? Would you recommend it? I would absolutely recommend a voice-over coach. I’ve always had VO coaches until recently and I honestly can’t wait to get back to it. My coaches ranged from voice-over work out groups to private coaches that I’ve done 1-hour intensives with and worth every penny; in fact I booked a huge radio campaign for Target right after a private coaching.
Who are your VO idols/mentors? Who influenced your work as a VO artist? Well one of my favorite people on the planet is Rich Rubin who is not only a fellow Benztown VO talent, but also a DJ on KROQ and a very well respected and well known actor and VO actor. I call him my patron saint of voiceover. He’s definitely been invaluable, a great friend, and also a great example of someone to emulate and follow in terms of voiceover. He’s been instrumental in helping me bring my voiceover career and connections/opportunities to the next level. Other than that my voice is most in the ilk of people like Sigourney Weaver, maybe Allison Janney. I guess if you wanted to say who I emulate I would say those two just because they work so frequently and I love their voices and I love their delivery. It’s so natural and engaging.
What is your dream gig? I’ve got 2 dream jobs: My first dream job is to be the voice on a hugely successful animated series, something like The Simpsons or I’m a huge fan of Bob’s Burgers. I can’t think of anything more exciting than to be a character that goes on for years and years where I get to use my voice to entertain people and just have a blast. My other dream job would be to be the ongoing voice of a brand for TV and radio. I’d prefer a brand that really makes a difference for people and for something people are really happy that exists, so as they’re also being sold to their also being contributed to.
What jobs have you had prior to voiceover? I have been a casting director for the last 15 ½ years. I started a company called Renita Casting in 1999 and that’s still going so I cast everything, but my day to day is commercials and I started by casting a ton of music videos. I’ve also been an actor my whole life. Way back in my first career I owned a promotional modeling agency where I hired and trained fragrance models and make up artists in department stores.
Can you offer 3 helpful tips for newbies trying to make it in the voice-over industry? 1. You need to treat your career like a business and you need to do something for it every day whether it’s creating opportunities, even if you aren’t getting paid for them, or you’re going to a VO group etc. You want to keep going and you want to keep doing it. 2. Find the ‘why’ of why you want to be a voice actor. Like anything in life if you don’t know the ‘why’ it’s almost certain you’re not going to succeed. And the ‘why’ is always founded in the way you can be of service to other people. Know that for yourself and know it concretely. If your career is all about you it’s probably not going to go well. 3. Lastly, make sure you have a great home booth that is well done, you’ve got a program you can easily edit in, you’ve got a great mic, and a good sound booth so that you can deliver professional quality auditions and jobs.
How do you schedule/prioritize your work? Part of what I do is try to arrange my schedule to have room for opportunities even when I don’t know what they’re going to be yet. Each day I make sure to the best of my ability that I’m not so overscheduled that if I get a last minute audition or job that I can do it. In general, I schedule everything and I schedule everything as far in advance as I can and I set alarms for everything. One of the greatest tips I can give anyone about succeeding in life and in business is schedule everything and when it comes up in your calendar, just do it.
How much time do you spend auditioning for new work? I spend anywhere between 2 and 5 hours a week.
How do you market your services to potential clients? The main way I market my services is to have my demo reel up online and I also have agents who also have my reel on voice bank. Also whenever I book a job as soon as I’m clear to share it I share it through social media.
Which production system do you use and why? I have a very simple home booth with professional sound foam, a really great Sennheiser mic, a mic port pro and then I record into Garage Band.
How has new technology changed the way you work? New technology has revolutionized the way I work in fact I‘ve been able to record jobs from hotel rooms all around the world. I’ve even recorded in my car a couple of times. Basically it requires so little to be able to have a quality recording that it’s freed me up to be able to be anywhere and audition or do a job. And then if it can’t be recorded from my hotel room because it needs to be really directed, there are so many great sound studios all over the world. It’s made it easier to get what I need when I need it even on short notice.
What is the best voice processing trick or voice-over technique everyone should know? First of all, always know who you’re talking to and I find it really helpful to either say it out loud or say their name before you start the copy because if you can figure out who you’re speaking to, your delivery will be different. Second, one of the single best coaching tips anyone ever gave me was to find a place in your body where the read is coming from for example: if it’s a very sincere, moving and heartfelt read, I’ll literally put my hand on my heart while I deliver it. If it’s something that makes me particularly happy or sad I might put my hand on my stomach while I’m delivering so I essentially connect that place on my body with the words.
When it comes to VO work, studio & gear, what are your most ingenious methods/discoveries for saving time and cash? Having real sound foam can turn any closet into an awesome sound booth. When you don’t have your sound foam and you’re on the road, hotel closets work great you just have to fill them with pillows and blankets. It’s always good to have clips with you (pincher clips, or safety pins) to hang your script from a hanger in the closet.
Do you have a different approach to reading radio imaging copy as opposed to TV/Radio commercial ads? I do have a different approach. For radio, because there are no visuals going along with it, it’s a slightly bigger and bolder read. I also might bring more volume or stand back from the microphone a little bit more. For a TV read, because it’s going with imagery, I’m there to compliment and enhance. It’s not just my voice so what I’ve learned is to give a much more intimate read. I’ll usually turn myself up in my earphones quite a bit and get up closer to the mic just to make sure I’m not popping or cracking or peaking out. It’s a much more intimate read as if I was having a one-on-one conversation with a friend in a quiet coffee shop.
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