Leah Brown started her voice-over journey with SAV several years ago, and since then has done e-learning, audiobook, and commercial VO work! Oh, and she wrote and published a novel this year. No big deal! Let’s check in and see what advice she has for our current students and folks looking into the VO industry.
What were you doing before you got into voice-over?
My family owns a roofing company, so coming out of high school that became my first job. Working on roofs, residential and commercial and also working in the office. Between that, I worked various jobs in retail and office.
What appealed to you most about starting a career in voice-over?
I would say that the main appeal is that I found my dream job and it was attainable. To have that become a reality was incredible! I remember about a decade ago now, I was introduced to Voices.com and I was ecstatic that such a thing was possible.
What was the most valuable part of your training with Such a Voice?
My one-on-one coaching with a trained voice-over professional. I loved the steps taken on each lesson in learning to use your voice like an instrument. There is so much to continually learn in what it takes to be a successful VO and the tools were there in each class. My coach was always there to teach and answer any questions that I had and if she did not have the answer, she would take note and research for me, I really appreciated that.
What was your first voice-over gig? How did it come about, and how did it go?
My first voice-over gig was in 2013. The job was for a virtual homeschooling session on social studies. I remember when I saw that I booked it I was so excited! And then nervous! I took it as seriously as I could because I knew that somebody put a lot of time and effort into their project and I wanted to give it as much justice and quality as I could. Thankfully, the person that hired me was very pleased and gave a 5 star review. It was a great start.
I’ve heard you’ve done some work in audiobooks – what was that experience like and how does it differ from some of the other work you’ve done?
To date, reading audiobooks for Learning Ally has been the most fulfilling VO work and most fun! The intern crew that we worked with was so incredibly kind and ready to help us with anything that we were struggling with, or had questions on. The team got to know each and every one of our voices and would send us suggestions on a new book to read each time we completed one. They sent me a wide array of subjects and emotional ranges. From children’s books, to Disney, to graphic novels (like Speak) to actual novels. I learned so much from reading books. You have to know how to read narratives, multiple character voice changes and perform believable acting. The challenge was both educating and fulfilling. In the end, I believe that I read around 7-10 audiobooks. The best part was knowing that we were helping children with reading challenges gain understanding and confidence in reading that ultimately led to them having a higher self esteem. The internship did end but I loved working for them so much that I have signed up to continue reading for them as a volunteer.
What other VO work have you done?
There have been quite a number of jobs over the years in the commercial, animation, and audiobook spheres, but some of my favorites have been voicing three different children in an E-Learning course for parents, a travel commercial I did for Riau Island, and providing VO for the Wedding Salon video game.
I also know you’ve written a novel this year – tell us a little about that!
Yes! My novel’s name is Wanders Pass, it is now available on Amazon. It is about a young woman, Elise Blath who lives on the coast of Oregon. One day she receives a mysterious letter and comes to find out that her family has hidden a deep secret from her her whole life. At a crossroads, she must decide what she is going to do, have things stay the way they always have been or go on the adventure her heart has always been yearning for.
Something else that I am so thankful for in working with Learning Ally, is that I gained experience in reading audiobooks. Currently, I am making Wanders Pass into an audiobook. I have hired a man narrator to perform all of the male parts and Jan Haley-Soule, my Such A Voice coach to perform a main female role. The audiobook will be available by the end of July and I’m so honored to have such an amazing cast be a part of it all.
How would you describe your sound?
I would say that my sound is youthful, sweet, and childlike. Depending on the reading, I can range from emotionally serious to a fairy-tale type sound.
What would your dream VO role/project be?
Ultimately to be a character in a cartoon for children. Either in a show or in a movie, I would love that. If I were to shoot for the stars, being the voice of a Disney character someday would be a dream come true.
Is there anyone in particular (at SAV or otherwise) that has been a mentor/role model in the industry.
Absolutely, my Such A Voice coach, Jan Haley-Soule. Jan has a heart of gold and truly cares about her students. Jan was my coach in 2014 and to this day, if I have questions she is always there to help. I appreciate her so much, she is full of knowledge and experience and more than willing to be that mentor that I need. Also, I had two sessions with a coach named Nancy Wilson. I loved her approach to coaching in that she really helped me to delve into what the script was actually saying and not compromising on quality. As she told me, Robin Williams said that in any acting pursuit; make it personal and make it specific. Will always remember that – it has really helped.
What advice would you have for students currently going through their VO training?
Be honest with yourself through the process. Give each lesson and training tool given to you through SAV all of your attention and energy. When you go out into the world of VO, there are going to be a lot of auditions and there is going to be a lot of competition. If you truly love VO and you know that this is your passion, that this is what you want to do, not just your career in life but as your passion; you will find a way to make it a success. Find the unique voice that you have in this industry and have confidence in it. Tell yourself that your voice is what people have been wanting to hear and have been looking for.
Aside from VO, what are your other interests?
The outdoors. Whenever I’m needing to feel refreshed and grounded on what really matters, I go to nature. It makes me feel at peace and close to our creator. Also singing and playing my piano and flute.
Any other thoughts you have about voice-over in general?
There is no understatement here when I say that voice-over has always been a passion of mine and my dream job since I was a child. Though I could not put a name to it at that time, I remember watching my favorite cartoons or movies and trying my best to imitate in voice or song their individual and unique voices. I believe that is one of the beauties of being human. At a young age, we have our own wonderful personalities and our passions develop. I have talked to other VO artists and we all seem to have that in common, that when we were children, we were drawn to doing voices and it followed us into adulthood. I think that is wonderful!
Anything you’d like to plug?
I’d love to:)
Want to join Leah? Start your voice-over journey (or just pop in to learn more about the industry!) at our introductory voice-over webinar!