Sandra Johnson graduated from SAV’s Premier VIP program in October of 2018, and has been busy recording audiobooks ever since. Let’s check in to hear the story of her voice-over journey and find out what has led to her success!
SAV: Tell us a bit about yourself: have you always been working on artistic endeavors, or did you get into VO from some other path entirely?
Sandra Johnson: No, I have not always been working on artistic endeavors. I have absolutely no previous work experience in the arts. I have been in the audience all of my life in amazement of those who can perform!
During the spring of 2018 I was meditating on what ‘next steps’ I should take in my life and a Facebook ad for a Such A Voice workshop appeared in my feed during this time period. I thought to myself that it may be worth attending. I have always loved the arts be it theatre, music, or visual. Many have said that I have a ‘great voice’ but I had no idea of what it takes to make it in the voice-over industry. I met Bridget Renshaw, listened as she explained her experiences, and I was hooked!
Johnson: My current projects are in audiobook narration through ACX. I have three completed audiobooks available on Audible, Amazon, iTunes, and four more in progress.
SAV: How did you first find out about VO, and what about it, in particular, sparked your interest to pursue it further?
Johnson: I knew the voice-over industry existed as I watch many documentaries and animated films wherein the voice-over actor or narrator commands the film. I never had the confidence, though, to pursue further. I had considered looking into it in the past, but never did.
As they say, timing is everything. Bridget’s presentation was great, I was quite excited when I spoke with her about joining Such A Voice. Her energy and positivity helped me to pursue it further.
SAV: How has Such A Voice empowered you to get your VO career off the ground?
Johnson: The staff at SAV is incredible. The ability to speak and get advice from a working professional weekly is a phenomenal resource. I am especially grateful to those I worked with: Megan MacPhee, Ben Marney, Angela Castonguay, Joleene Derks and Steven Wahlberg for all of their encouraging wisdom. Each person empowered me to keep moving forward.
SAV: What was the most helpful resource SAV provided during the course of your training?
Johnson: I could not name one SAV resource that is most helpful. Megan MacPhee’s homework assignments I continue to refer to. I still laugh at our recorded sessions! From script analysis to tongue twisters, I use at least one or more each time I am in my studio space. Ben Marney’s videos and one-on-one sessions are invaluable tools in order to learn Audacity. I use Audacity constantly and there is so much to learn. Angela Castonguay is funny, engaging and so lovely. She calmed this anxious student during my demo day. I am still pouring over Joleene Derks’ marketing resources as I delve more into marketing.
Also, a connection with a professional audio engineer is an invaluable resource. My demo session was at Empire Studios in Dallas. It is a studio Angela Castonguay frequently partners with. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to work with Alex Gerst, the owner and engineer. Partnering with him gives me the confidence to press forward with new projects.
SAV: That’s great! So, how did you break into audiobooks?
Johnson: I auditioned for audiobook work on ACX. I was pleasantly surprised to receive an offer on one of my first few auditions. I am grateful to have received additional work on this site. I have also received additional work from two authors!
SAV: Was the process of recording for those projects different from what you expected? If so, how?
Johnson: Early on in my SAV training, I listened to a teleconference on audiobooks. The challenges of recording and editing these projects were extensively discussed. At that time, I thought I would definitely not work on books because it sounded like a lot of work! After I few months I decided to accept the challenge and give it a try with notes from the teleconference in hand, and now I really enjoy recording Audiobooks!
SAV: How would you describe your niche in VO?
Johnson: My niche? “Grown and sexy”. Some describe my voice as “young adult”; but I hear it as “sultry”. That is the market I pursue. I wouldn’t suggest listening to my first three audiobooks with little ones in the car – they are a bit steamy!
SAV: What are your interests outside of VO?
Johnson: I enjoy spending time with family, going to movies, and concerts. My business name includes the word ‘media’: I also find photography and poetry fun; so I include them, along with voice-over, into my business. I am working on attending networking events more often to increase opportunities which I also find to be fun. Super excited to attend my first voice-over conference later this year.
SAV: If you could give our current students one piece of advice, what would it be?
Johnson: As a female voice-over artist, I would say dig in and network. If you are like me, with no connections from previous employment or experience, this may take some research. Use some of Joleene Derks’ marketing tools! They have been helpful for me. I would also give the advice I was given: “know who you are”. Do projects that define your brand, that way clients should know your niche.
SAV: Anything you’d like to plug?
Johnson: I would love to have website visitors! Check me out at sandrajohnsonmedia.com
Eager to get your start in voice-over? Check out our introductory webinar to learn more about how to get started!