We sat down with Kelly Libatique to hear more about his amazing success having just started out in this industry. Congratulations to Kelly on all of his achievements and we thank him for sharing such encouraging words with others looking for that hope & guidance as they venture into this exciting field.
Q: What inspired you to want to get into voice-overs?
A: As a theatre actor since college, I’ve been inspired for years to explore other areas of performing. Also, in the last ten years or so, I’ve been a technical trainer and curriculum developer in the high-tech and telcom industries and have used my voice extensively in recorded training material. After being told numerous times over the years that I’d be good at something like this, I’m so glad I made the decision to give it a whirl.
Q: Who was your instructor at Such A Voice & what about that person made them a good fit for you?
A: My coach was Talia Gonzalez, and I can’t say enough about her. In just a couple of sessions, we had found out pretty clearly what I was good at and what needed serious work. And the stuff that needs work STILL needs work. But her coaching and advice from real-world experience was invaluable. She challenged and pushed me out of my comfort zones and made me see what else I could do. She genuinely cared about me getting things right. It’s an investment in time and resources to get one-on-on coaching, but if you’re a newbie, you must do this.
Q: What do you see as your own VO strengths and why you will continue to succeed at this?
A: My strengths are having a strong, authoritative delivery, and if you need specialized or otherwise technical jargon–no problem. I also pull from my stage and camera experience a lot. But one of the things Talia had to knock out of me was my “default” trainer voice. No matter what copy I read, I tended to return to my flat, heavy-handed, “here’s the info” kind of voice. On the plus side though, I have found that many audiobook authors like this voice for the narrative portion. After that, I pull from my acting training and experience to create characters.
Q: What did you take away from Such A Voice that will be the most beneficial to your career?
A: I took away many things from SAV, but I can name two biggies. The first is the need to stay “one-on-one” when recording spots. The Script Analysis, as it’s called, is fundamental, and is especially helpful once you become good at doing it quickly. Without that, I’d still be doing my instructor/radio announcer voice; I speak to the masses, as it were, by instinct, but in VO, you have to be talking to one person. The second is the overall picture about marketing, even to the smaller markets, that many don’t think of. I’ve read a few books from other sources on the subject since, but you need to have an understanding of the business side of VO. Most of us artists just want to perform, that’s where the fun is. But it doesn’t matter how good the performance is if you’re not out there getting heard by the right people. I can almost never attend the SAV bi-weekly live training sessions, but I listen to the recordings and the real-world tips you get there are chock full of great info.
Q: What VO jobs have you booked and/or opportunities that you’ve had since joining our program?
A: I just completed my fourth audiobook and am already enjoying monthly revenue from that. I hopped on to ACX.com and started auditioning and found work right away. My current book is the first of a trilogy series that the author already wants me to do.
Although it’s a ripe market, audiobooks are not for everyone. They are long hours of recording and editing, and the pay is not as good per hour of effort. But the practice is priceless. If you’re not good with mic techniques or the bells and whistles of your recording software, audiobooks will take care of that. ACX has a strict audition process and even before the author or publisher gives the final Go, you need to demonstrate the ability to produce fully edited and ready-to-publish recordings.
I also did a promo for a Russian startup called Instengine. I booked that when Voices.com offered me 30 days for ten bucks. Why not, right? So I signed up and got the offer after auditioning for about 25 jobs. I was told later that was pretty darn good luck. The promo is featured on their homepage at Instengine.com and also on YouTube.
After my 30 days on Voices.com, I dropped out again until my official demos were done by SAV. My demos have now just been completed and are featured on the website I threw together — KLVoice.com. So I may hop back on to Voices or Voice123, we’ll see.
Q: What advice would you give to aspiring voice talent?
A: There’s an old saying: A year from now, you’ll wish you’d started today. I guess that sums it up for me and VO. I wish I’d gotten serious about it sooner and received the proper training and knowledge to get a real start.
Going back several years, if you were to make a list of everything you’re NOT supposed to do, I did them all. I bought equipment I didn’t know how to properly use. I tried, lamely, to make my own demos. I used copyrighted music for background on demos and auditions. And it got me absolutely nowhere. (Good thing too or I may have been sued!) Discouraged, I put it all aside for a couple of years and tried to forget about it. But I couldn’t. I knew I wanted to try. Then one day I ran into a class called “You’re On The Air” taught by SAV’s Lisa Foster and my fire was rekindled. I saw, laid out, practical steps I could take to get real training from pros. After doing some research on different companies out there, I found that SAV has a good reputation and many of their students are out there doing real VO work. So I signed up and here I am. And hopefully, someday, I’ll be able to say, “and the rest is history.” 🙂
Q: Is there anything else that you’d like to add?
A: You may try VO and find it’s not for you, but that’s just life. If it’s a desire in your heart, you need to just dive in and give it a go. You may be surprised. My situation is this: I have a day job and two boys, ages eight and twelve at home. Under these sometimes crazy, chaotic, and noisy circumstances, I’ve started a paying part-time VO career. You can do this if you have the determination and the right guidance. What’s the Nike slogan?: Just do it. (But do it the right way . . .)