“It’s much more than just having a good voice.”  That’s something I always say to young people when they ask about my life as a voice actor.  “You have to be a good reader. You need to understand the intention of the script.  Are you trying to get people excited to buy something?  Are you informing employees about new company policies?  Or are you trying to reassure patients during a challenging time?”

Lisa Leonard, gesturing with hand while speaking to high school students via Zoom.

I mentioned all of the above last week during a Zoom presentation to 11th graders at Liguori Academy in Philadelphia.  (My Rotary club has a partnership with the school and this is one of many ways we help serve the community.) Students of the workforce class listened to examples of my VoiceOver work.  I played some commercials, healthcare and explainer video narrations, and some awards/event announcements I’ve recorded.

Wanting to impart some wisdom during my 45 minute talk, I made sure to mention some important lessons I’ve learned along the way:

Ask questions.  That’s how we learn.

Rejection is part of life.  Don’t take it personally.  Voice actors, like other actors, audition for many more jobs than we book.

Learn to take criticism.  I told them about the audio engineer who said, “you sound sleepy like you haven’t had your coffee yet.”  Instead of feeling insulted, I just psyched myself up and gave him a more energetic read.  Taking feedback is part of the job.

Be open to learning new things.  Successful voice actors continue to attend workshops, learn new specialties, and get coaching.  What you think you want to do now, may change along the way.  And that’s okay!

Have a good attitude and try to brighten peoples’ days.  I reminded the students that being kind, professional, and easy to work with are qualities that people remember.  And that usually lead to additional opportunities.

What advice about the working world do you like to give to students?