Footprints in the sand on the shoreline of a shimmering lakeHave you ever given much thought to how you got to where you are today?

The people you were surrounded by, everything you learned, worked toward or experienced have contributed to what you find yourself doing now.
If you had to chart your course, what would it look like?

Back To Don Wright

Yesterday I returned to my alma mater, the Don Wright Faculty of Music at the University of Western Ontario, and gave a presentation on the steps I took from my days at Western to co-founding

My presentation was the first in a new series of talks where alumni return to share their story and answer questions for students, both undergraduate and graduate, and provide insight and guidance in a question and answer period. While we only had 50 minutes, I think we could have run for several hours on the topic of becoming an entrepreneur, specifically, how voice majors and music students could thrive as voice over talent.

Aside from the prospect of voice acting, which of course was a very popular topic, part of what interested them was how the course that was charted for me wasn’t necessarily the way I had planned it. I think sharing how things went for me gave them hope that even if they hadn’t achieved everything in the order they wanted it to get done on their to-do list, they could still make a life for themselves and be happy.

Companions on the Journey

I’m sure we can all agree that our lives doesn’t always go exactly according to our plans. That being said, I firmly believe that there are no accidents or coincidences and base this perspective upon personal experience. Although my heart may have determined the course I am taking, I believe that God guides my steps and this gives me comfort.

Looking back on all that has happened to get from point A to point B, even though there were bumps and surprises along the way that I wouldn’t have chosen, I could not have planned it better myself. For instance, something that may have seemed like an obstacle turned out to be a turning point or an opportunity for growth.
We all face challenges, and when you walk through a trial successfully (and have learned a thing or two!), you are stronger for it.

What Has Your Journey Been Like?

I’d love to hear about how your life has turned out, whether expected or unexpected, and how your past has shaped where you are today.
Looking forward to your response!
Best wishes,

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Stephanie Ciccarelli is the Co-Founder and Chief Brand Officer of Classically trained in voice, piano, violin and musical theatre, as well as a respected mentor and industry speaker, Stephanie graduated with a Bachelor of Musical Arts from the Don Wright Faculty of Music at the University of Western Ontario. Possessing a great love for imparting knowledge and empowering others, her podcast Sound Stories serves an audience that wants to achieve excellence in storytelling. Stephanie is found on the PROFIT Magazine W100 list three times (2013, 2015 and 2016), a ranking of Canada's top female entrepreneurs, and is the author of Voice Acting for Dummies®.


  1. Really beautiful entry, Stephanie!
    I believe that everything happens for a reason. Whether expected or unexpected, I embrace the change and flow with it. It may be tough at times or it may be glorious, but either way, it’s an adventure and I love every minute of it. 🙂

  2. Stephanie,
    In today’s VOX Daily, you asked “What Has Your Journey Been Like?”
    To answer that, I first must say that my life journey is ongoing while my VoiceOver journey has just begun. I made a list today of the things that I need to do. The results of this list are reflective of my journey, so far, in that something far down on the list happened before I could get to the others. This just goes to show that often things do not happen in the order that we plan.
    My initial goal in life was to be a physician or an actor. As life progressed, I gave up on both dreams. Now, at age 60, having retired from 40 years as a Speech Pathologist, I find myself travelling quickly down the VoiceOver acting road. I say I am travelling quickly because I had not heard of the profession until January 2010. Since then, I have taken courses, met several wonderful people in the VO community, had coaching from several of the bright lights in the business and gotten work doing what I love (narrating audio books). Haven’t gotten any jobs through yet, but I know they will come.
    I cannot see what the road ahead in my journey will bring, but I look forward to more audio books and more chances to follow my dreams. I will live up to the motto that I have adopted for my branding:
    Telling the story… bringing out the soul of the book.
    Darla Middlebrook, Voice Over Actress

  3. This is a really beautiful article, Stephanie. In many ways things have gone so different than how I thought at the onset of my adult life. But if I sort of do that thing like at the end of that cartoon “Meet the Robinsons” where the little boy gets to peek in at his future, and can’t wait to grow up and get there…I think little me would approve. All of the big things are there, they just took a different road to get there! 🙂

  4. Life’s course was, and still is, a zigag. But now, past 60, I value lessons learned, people encountered, the resource of initiative.
    I jumped school at 15, so I was lucky when a girlfriend hauled me into the local charitable drama club/academy (Mountview, in London UK). The late, legendary, Peter Coxhead taught his young flock to act, to speak, to think and feel, to paint scenery, work lights, record sound. All this led eventually to the BBC and now to this home-based business which I love even more than the wonderful Beeb and almost as much as Mountview! Voiceover learning is endless, and fun, and by its commitment to developing people and bringing us jobs, plays a big part in that.

  5. Hi Stephanie,
    It is so funny that you sent this out today because I was just reflecting on my own path to becoming a voice actor. I am also a UWO grad – perhaps our paths crossed? I was there from 1990-1994 as an English/Drama major.
    I graduated with big dreams of taking the world by storm with my astounding dramatic abilities ; ) and moved to Toronto in the hopes of launching my acting career. While I was taking evening acting classes, I ended up getting a day job as the receptionist of The Fan radio station. One of the producers there heard my voice on the phone and asked if I’d ever considered voice acting. I hadn’t even heard of it at the time – but he helped me produce a demo and shop it around and I landed my first agent.
    This was way back in 1998 and I have “dabbled” in voice work since then – going from union to non-union in 2007. I worked in PR for a number of years and had 3 beautiful kids along the way and still managed to sneak in a few gigs here and there. After the birth of my third child last May, I really decided to focus on my voice career and to build a home studio to go after some of the online work. I was always in PR or busy as a mom and never really considered that I could turn my voice work into a viable career. But I’m happy to report that since I’ve shifted my thinking – I am busier than ever! I have a wonderful mentor, 2 fabulous agents and lots of fulfilling voice work to keep me busy. And I know there is much more to come!
    Thanks for the great article.

  6. Hey, Stephanie!
    Although we haven’t formally met as yet, we are definitely sisters! Our backgrounds are very similar with the music connection. I’ve been writing, recording, and publishing children’s educational music for years after graduating from Northwestern University School of Music, and I have done many VO projects through my work along the way. I founded Look At Me Productions first, and now I am the co-founder of Windy City Voice Talents in Chicago area. My VO business is expanding and we are excited!
    I’ve loved every minute behind that mic – whether I’m singing or doing a VO project! So exciting and challenging.
    Yes, God has a definite plan for all of us and we just need to get out of His way and see what He brings. Sisters…
    I enjoyed reading your article this morning and felt compelled to write a comment. Hope we can meet real soon! Kathy

  7. Quite candidly, Philippians 3:12-14. In process. Started in 1973. Before that, you don’t want to know. It might scare the children and the animals… 🙂

  8. Hi Kathy,
    It’s great to hear from you! Thank you for sharing your thoughts and for making the connection 🙂 We do share a lot in common and I hope we can meet soon, too. Chicago is not all that far from where we are based. Perhaps something we hold up here in London (Canada) might bring you north of the border!
    God bless,

  9. I always find it fascinating to hear about people’s life journeys filled with trials and tribulations, positive and negative experiences, decisions and choices, yet in the end, I believe we all end up where we are meant to be.
    For me, and I’ll try and keep this short and sweet……voiceovers was something I only dreamed of and was quite intimidated by it all since I didn’t have the formal education to back it. UNTIL….in 2005, I googled voiceovers for the millionth time and landed on Todd Schick’s website, a local, Professional voice talent, here in Toronto. What I was intrigued by was the fact that he offered voice critiquing which I had never seen before. So, after reading his “Frequently Asked Questions” page twice (because Todd insisted I read it a 2nd time, to ensure I was serious about this)…I booked the critique session. Obviously, it went fairly well. That is not to say, Todd didn’t seriously emphasize the long road ahead for me in order to make a go of it. He was candid and didn’t sell me any pipe dream and in addition, generously gave advice on how to create my professional home studio. I also, knew it was going to take a lot of work…years of it! So, here I am in my 3rd yr as a full time voice actor, living my dream or what I like to call my ‘perfect day’ and extremely grateful for it.
    Every day is a challenge but I choose to remain confident, positive, passionate and persevere because I’m doing what I love and that’s all I ever wanted.
    A quote I read everyday..” Those who are wise live according to their purpose. Their life gives meaning to everything they do. They do not live by the clock, but instead follow their compass. This ensures they are on the road that leads directly to their destiny.”
    ….I’m following my compass….
    Matt Dratva

  10. I’ve gotta give props to my friend Stuart Knight for inspiring me to do what I was passionate about and decide my future for myself!

  11. So hard to pick just one. But at the moment great friend Samantha comes to mind. She gave me the okay to be quirky, funny, smart, driven, silly and moody all at the same time, in a world that wants everyone to conform! There is only one you, be the best you and not someone else’s version of you.

  12. Penny Abshire, and she doesn’t even know it. She welcomed me to VU with a personal note and made me feel like I could do this thing!

  13. The whole broadcast team at Fanshawe College radio broadcasting, 1995-1996 (yikes!). And now, each and every year, the students who continuously challenge me to be better.

  14. John Henderson at Loyalist College in Belleville, Ontario. I don’t think a day goes by when I don’t think of something he taught me.

  15. Well, since my youth I’ve always found a way to take command of attention without having to be blatant about it. I used my skills in visual communication to draw people in. segues a way to my study in fine art (which came naturally), graphic arts & design, drafting & architecture, photography, storyboards, makeup and hair which all ties together flawlessly with acting in our industry. so besides working in front of the camera I work behind it. one way or another I WILL work in the movie industry and make money but not just for the money; for the LOVE of the CRAFT first and foremost. JMQ


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