Here at Such A Voice we bring together some pretty incredible professionals from all different parts of the world to provide our students with a top voice-over education. Our staff members have such a wide variety of backgrounds and unique personalities. From working VO actors starring in movies, video games, and national TV commercial campaigns, to producers spending their days working on voice-over demos as well as broadcast voice-over work, to copywriters, casting directors and many other industry skills in between! We genuinely love bringing our expertise and our experiences together to create the best programs for our students.
For this week’s spotlight in the series, we’d like to introduce you to Such A Voice’s Head personal coach, Justine Reiss.
Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get your start in voice-over?
I live in LA with my husband David and my two boys Reese (16) Kellan (13) and our nutty little dog Penny (who is a blond Toto).
I got the idea to get into V/O while working in Orlando Florida for Disney at the Indiana Jones Stunt Show as a stunt performer- a friend of mine who became a VERY successful V/O actor was talking about wanting to pursue it and become the next Mel Blanc. I think I had one audition for a woman with a Spanish Accent and all I remember from that was “We are making a poster for Earth Day” and I recorded one of our costume ladies and repeated her accent over and over.
Then I moved to LA, immediately took classes in Animation with Susan Blu and and commercials with Cathy Kalmenson where I did my first demo… on cassette… got an agent, etc… However, the key for me was working in casting at The Voicecaster. I would direct sessions (sometimes with celebrities) edit the auditions onto CD, (see where we are goin’ with the timeline here;) and get the CDs to the client out via Fed Ex. (Now it’s all just an email away). But the best part of that job for me: when actresses didn’t show I’d get thrown into the booth. And I started booking work because of it. That experience had great impact on my v/o career and got me interested in coaching.
What does a perfect day look like to you?
Sleep in, walk the dog, do yoga, get a delicious latte, take my family to the beach (and they all want to go- while my husband does all the packing, including lunch) then sushi and then go see HAMILTON (and someone else bought us the tickets).
Would you prefer to attend a play or a musical?
Well Hamilton, obvi… I LOVE them both, but lately I’m really into music so… musical wins.
Who is your favorite author?
I’m really bad a singling ANYTHING out as my FAVORITE but… Harper Lee and John Steinbeck.
What is your biggest VO accomplishment to date?
I absolutely LOVE every v/o gig I do. Still get a thrill to hear “you’ve got a booking!” I did a series of spots for Sonicare and Toshiba in one year, both good paydays and super fun jobs. One of the things I love about “working” is collaboration. As a v/o actor these days, we are isolated most of the time: auditioning from home, never getting much direction. I love to collaborate with actual humans, meet the challenge of working with ad people, directors and sometimes the clients themselves when they get on the call. (This happened recently on an OLD NAVY spot and it was fascinating to see where the client and the ad people agreed and DISagreed)
I also looped 3 seasons on Leverage which was the most fun I’ve ever had for the most money in the shortest amount of time.
What types of voice-over jobs do you book the most?
Commercials: ladies that are straight forward, fun, no nonsense, sometimes with a wry sense of humor.
If you had to describe yourself in 3 words, what would you say?
Straight Forward (guess that’s two words), Social, Funny.
Roller skates, roller blades, or no way are you putting any wheels on your feet?
ROLLERBLADES FOR SURE! I have a pair in the garage, used them a LOT when I lived in Florida, now not so much, but you’ve inspired me to dust them off!
What’s a great piece advice that you were told once during your voice-over career, that you’d like to share with others?
Figure out the ONE thing you do well to start with, YOUR SIGNATURE sound- which is really YOU. And just try to capitalize on that at first… then take a step to the right, to the left and one giant leap (character voices, dialects) if you can REALLY back it up. I also learned at Kalmenson the same thing we teach at SAV, when you read copy: Talk to ONE person, make it personal and someone you know. That is how you capture your audience!
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