Seven ?s with: VO Buzz Weekly
CHUCK DURAN & STACEY J. ASWAD
VO Buzz Weekly is the global web sensation that is inspiring, educating and entertaining viewers in over 80 countries around the world.
Aspiring voice actors, established VO pros and curious fans alike can finally put a “face to the voice” of the mega-talented voice actors from cartoons, animated films, movie trailers, video games, TV promos and commercials, to getting the inside scoop from the best voice over agents, directors and others, in a way that has never been done before.
Every week, hosts Chuck Duran and Stacey J. Aswad get up close and personal with their special guest as they share fun and poignant personal stories, insights on how they became so successful, reveal tips, techniques, products and equipment they use to maintain their voice, create characters and continue to stay at the top of their craft.
1) How did you get into the voiceover industry?
CHUCK: Twenty-five plus years ago, I created my company, DEMOS THAT ROCK and started producing voice over demos for clients at the top agencies in Los Angeles. My demos stood out right from the start because they were tailored to the specific needs and wants of agents, casting directors and talent buyers, and they still are to this day.
Over the years, I have produced thousands of commercials for big brands like Nike, Chevrolet, Budweiser and many others. I am the co-founder and lead guitarist for the Heavy-Metal/Pop mash-up band, Rock Sugar, and have written and performed songs for award winning movies and TV shows for Warner Brothers, FOX, Paramount Pictures and Disney.
I take immense pride in consistently turning out the best voiceover demos for my clients, as well as offering them additional resources like a customized marketing plan and professional guidance, which I believe are some of the reasons I have clients not just in Los Angeles, but from all over the world. It means so much to me to help people achieve their dreams in voice over and life.
STACEY: I have been performing pretty much my whole life. After graduating with a BFA in Dance from The Juilliard School, I pursued a diverse professional dance, choreography and teaching career. The pointe shoes led to the theatre, then TV and film opportunities including becoming the resort TV host for Walt Disney World since 2005.
Two weeks after arriving in LA I met Chuck, recorded my VO demos and have been working ever since, in VO and on-camera projects. I landed great VO agents around the country and actively study privately and in workshops to keep my skills sharp. I am fortunate to work steadily in all different areas of voiceover from commercials and promos to narration and animation. And in addition to producing and co-hosting VO Buzz Weekly with Chuck since 2012, I also custom write all the voiceover scripts for voice talent demos produced by DEMOS THAT ROCK.
2) What inspired you to create VO Buzz Weekly?
Stacey and I wanted to create a show that celebrates the industry we both love in a unique way, with an entertainment talk show format. We wanted to have fun most importantly and make it exciting for people to watch. We wanted to give back which is why the show will always be free!
VO Buzz Weekly has won 2 Voice Arts Awards and is inspiring, educating and entertaining viewers in over 100 countries around the world.
We are starting our 5th season and it is more meaningful to us than we could have ever imagined on so many levels. We have learned so much about ourselves as individuals and partners and formed life long friendships with amazing people. We have become wizards of digital branding, social media and website development which is an ever evolving and humbling learning curve, to say the least.
3) You recently celebrated your 200th episode. What are some of your favorite moments?
Yes! It has been four years in the making and 6 months of planning the live event! We taped our 200th episode in front of a live audience at the historic El Portal Theatre in the NOHo Arts District. Some favorite moments for us:
In the digital age of voiceover, doing this live show brought people together from all aspects and genres of voiceover in a way that has not been done before.
The sold out crowd welcomed us with a standing ovation at the top of the show AND at the end. It was so humbling and kind of took our breath away!
Chuck spontaneously swept Stacey off her feet and carried her offstage at the end. So awesome! Stay tuned, the 200th episode will be posted in the coming weeks.
4) Who takes longer to do their hair, Chuck or Stacey?
It could be a tie, but probably Chuck.
5) What are some changes you’ve seen in the industry over the last decade (technology, technique, casting, etc.)?
Talent alone isn’t enough. The industry is fast becoming a balancing act between talent and service. To be competitive, you need to be savvy behind the mic with strong acting chops, improv skills and technique and also be the CEO of your own company. You need to know how to run a business, be confident at networking and maintaining professional relationships, have digital media knowledge and social media presence and watch and listen to everything so you’re on top of the ever-changing trends. You have to know what is in demand. Also the pace moves so fast now that Talent buyers are booking more and more off demos, so it’s imperative that voice actors have the very best tools that showcase their abilities.
6) Stacey, you are a former 5-time national champion in artistic roller-skating, so I have to ask: Any chance Chuck joins you for some pairs skating in an upcoming episode?
Funny you should ask. Stacey had a moment of “maybe we can rollerskate onstage at the 200th episode” … the idea was later nixed. We will never say never because Stacey skates are always in her car and Chuck has got some pretty sweet moves!
7) When it comes to making a demo what are some of the golden rules?
Get the best coaching possible with the most reputable people in the business.
Don’t record your demo until you’re 100% ready, so it can actually help you stand out and you can use it to launch your career in the right direction.
Don’t let anyone produce your demo unless they specialize in demo production. This is a big mistake people make and it comes back to bite them later on, financially and professionally. You don’t hire an electrician to paint your house, right?
I’m only supposed to ask you seven questions but I came up with nine, so I’m creating a new feature called:
TWO MORE ?S WITH:
CHUCK DURAN & STACEY J. ASWAD
8) If you could book any guest in the world to be your show, who would it be (other than me)?
Well yes of course, YOU! If we could turn back time… the icons, Mel Blanc, Walt Disney and Don LaFontaine. We would love to have Frank Welker, Jane Lynch, Mike Myers and the list goes on and on …
9) What advice do you have for those just starting out in the business?
Getting good training is essential. Most reputable coaches work via Skype so even if you don’t live in one of the larger markets you can still work with the best in the business. Take acting and improv classes, read out loud and play around with the range of your voice to discover what you can do.
Join legit workout groups, take classes and workshops to become comfortable working in front of people and learn from others. Get involved in the community on social media in groups like the Voiceover Collective, WOVO, Voiceover Pros, VO Peeps and other reputable groups where you can receive good information.
It’s a marathon not a sprint. You have to be willing to invest time, money and passion into your voiceover aspirations. If you treat it like a hobby it will pay you like one. Be persistent, patient, work hard and believe in yourself.
Of course, watch every episode of VO Buzz Weekly because there is a wealth of information shared by the industry’s best and it costs you nothing!