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Voice123 Voice over coach september dayKindle Fire users might recognize September’s voice as she is the official text-to-speech narrator. She’s voiced the MTV music awards, she’s the voice of Skynet in Terminator Salvation and much more. She’s also proud momma to three beautiful kids.

 

TT: Tell us how you got started in this crazy business anyway!

SD: Well, I guess my story starts back when I was a teenager, I loved radio. There was a local station here in Atlanta called 99X and it was the top alternative station in the country. I would call all the time. I was a radio groupie. I actually got to know the DJs pretty well and the one that was in charge of production would always tell me “You should come in a voice some stuff. You’ve got a great voice!” and I was like “ummm….nah…I’m not interested in that lifestyle.” I was actually going to college to be a veterinary technician. I did that for about 10 years but one day I was like, “ya know? I want to try voiceover.” So, I made some mistakes and got scammed along the way but I was lucky. I started my career in February 2007 and September of that year is when I booked the MTV VMA awards gig on Voice123. After that I started getting more high profile jobs and that same DJ guy who told me I had a great voice as a teenager, happened to be walking by a co-worker’s desk who had my website pulled up because I had written for some advice. He remembered me, contacted me on Facebook, and we’ve been married 3 years and now have 3 kids!

TT: Wow! What an incredible story. Three kids in three years! How do you juggle being a full time mom and a voice actress and coach?

SD: About 85% of the work I do is from my home studio, so that allows some flexibility. But I have very early mornings and very late nights. I’m very blessed because my husband is still a voice actor and in radio too. So, he leaves around 4am but he’s back by 1 in the afternoon. So, if I need to work, I’ve got that time. And because he’s in the industry, I can actually take the kids to the studio if I need to voice something really quick.

TT: What is the first “lesson” you teach a new student?

SD: With someone who is brand new to the industry, the first thing I tell them is that the home studio is a non-negotiable. So much work is done from home studios now that if you don’t have one, you will have a hard row to hoe. If a veteran voice actor comes to me, we talk about why. Are you coming to me because you aren’t making money? Have you been at this for a while and made money in the past but now aren’t? I really have to know the specifics of each person’s situation because each person’s talents and career path is different. If you don’t want to do audiobooks, I’m not going to charge you and force you to learn that.

TT: What is your key piece of advice for any voice actor at any stage in their career?

SD: Constantly tell everyone, “I’m a voice talent! I’m a voice talent!” because you never know who you are going to run into. I can’t tell you how many jobs I’ve gotten because I happened to bring it up in conversation with someone who told someone else, who told someone else. One thing my husband Bob and I teach is what we call “the phrase that pays”. Producers and marketers hear things like “well, ya know, if you got any work, I’d love to work for you…” all day long. Instead of begging for work, we tell people to say, “Hello, my name is…and I’m a voice talent. I’d love to be a resource for you. Please consider me the next time you have auditions or need for a voice over.” Saying that you would love to be a resource for them puts you in a position of “let me help you.” You are providing value and giving to this person instead of begging them to give you something. 

TT: I think that’s key for actors to learn. You are providing a service. These people need your service as much as you need the work. Yes, there’s A LOT of rejection in this industry, but it doesn’t mean you have to beg.

SD: Right, and even though this industry is competitive, you’re bringing your personality and life experience into every read you do. Everyone has something unique to offer, but let’s get real about VO for a minute, we say words for money. Most of the time, it’s not going to change the world, we’re selling bread or something, but for example, one of my clients is a children’s hospital. Before I was a mom, I read the copy and it was nice and touching. But, just after I had my baby boy, I was given copy about a child they treated who was born blind. I know I brought my emotion to that read because I just kept thinking “Wow. What if this were my son?”. So, every person has something different to offer each piece of copy.

TT: Connecting with the copy is so key, but so difficult sometimes. Do you recommend that your students take acting classes as well?

SD: Yes, especially improv though. Sometimes a director can throw you a curve ball and say, “Can you do this?” and I train my students to say “Yes and…”. In improv, you’re not allowed to say no because everything will shut down. It’s the same in the studio. I’ve been asked to sound taller, to sound like a black cat, and I’ve even been told to be “more.” He said, “I don’t know what I mean by that really, but I’ll know when I hear it.” and you’ve got to be able to deliver!

TT: You started booking some pretty high profile work from Voice123 pretty early on after joining, the MTV VMAs and the Terminator: Salvation gigs. What are your tips for working online as a voice actor?

SD: I tell new talents to take a look at some of the lower paying jobs, the $100 and $200 jobs because you never know, it could turn into a long term client or they refer you to someone else. Not to mention you always learn from every audition you do. Hopefully you’ll get some feedback on on your audition, determine what works as your message in the “remarks” section, etc. For more veteran talents (and new ones too), I tell them never opt out of those “to be determined” budget jobs!! Both the VMA and the Terminator jobs were listed as “TBD”. It’s also key to have a great looking profile, with great demos and all of your information filled out.

TT: September, we actually use your profile as a great example during our webinars! (Check out September Day’s Voice123 profile page here.)

SD: I’m so flattered by that, really. I show mine to my students too but I tell them to look at other talent’s profiles who match their voice type. Listen to their demos, see what they say about themselves. I also cannot stress the importance of having a really high quality, professional commercial demo. So, take time listening to what a really good commercial demo sounds like. Anyone will take your money, throw together a demo, and put it on a CD for you. Congratulations, you just bought a $500 piece of plastic. You’ve got to work with someone who’s got a proven track record of getting work for their talents and who takes time to get to know your voice.

TT: Many people think getting a demo is step one or, even worse, that joining Voice123 is step one! What are the steps for someone to get into voice acting?

SD: Voice123 is really about step 5 in this process. If a person’s got talent and understands voice over as a business, then I say that step 1 is the home studio set up. It’s just so important and you’re just not going to be successful without it. Step 2 is getting a fantastic commercial demo produced. Step 3 is learning to edit! If you don’t know how to edit, there’s no point in auditioning. Step 4 is getting the acting chops and working on technique. Then, when you feel like you are ready to start recording, auditioning, and editing on your own, then it’s time for a Voice123 membership. Voice123 is a great tool, but you have to be ready to use it for it to pay off. I’ve booked my biggest “career changers” from Voice123 and I would not be where I am today without it. It’s not about getting lucky though, it’s about knowing how to use it as a tool.

TT: One of the questions we get a lot at Voice123 is “How much do I charge?”. What’s your advice about setting rates?

SD: Well, you have to know how much your time is worth. So, take into account how long the project is and how many total hours it will take you to record, edit, master, and deliver. But, I don’t opt out of anything, low paying or student projects, because you just never know. I mean, come on, who doesn’t love helping out a kid with a science fair project? That’s just good karma! You never know, that student may have a dad who’s in marketing, who knows? When you come from a business that has a high physical factor, like me when I was a vet tech. There wasn’t a day I wasn’t covered in sweat, poop, blood, you name it. I was helping with surgeries, getting bitten, scratched every single day. I know what I made for that and I also know that no matter what I charge, sitting here talking all day for money is a definite upgrade. Look, don’t devalue yourself and make sure you’re always getting what you’re comfortable with, but I mean, think about the firefighters, EMTs, police officers of the world. We’re voice talents. We say words for money. We have to use what we have to make a difference in the world and giving back is one thing we can do to help and keep our jobs in perspective.

About September:

September Day Carter, the sexy warm voice of Generation X. Bringing a natural flow with a sincere voice lit with a smile to copy, she is often sought by clients looking for a real, conversational read. Her lush, sweet tone is a pure delight to listen to and her knowing, sultry growl is perfect for luxury and adult items. September has been in the voice over industry for over 13 years and her fresh voice has attracted clients like MTV, Coke, Pizza Hut, Fujifilm VH-1, Levi’s, Comcast, Abercrombie & Fitch, Sprint, Verizon, LG Electronics, Dish Network, Skechers, The Plaza Hotel in New York City and many more. Currently, September is the new voice of Subaru and the MTV Video Music Awards. She’s studied with some of the best in the business like Nancy Wolfson, Marc Cashman, and Julie Williams. For details on coaching, visit her website: http://www.septembervoice.com/