Fairy on the roof at night

How Did You Fall in Love With Voice Acting?

There must have been something along the way in your past that sparked your passion for voice over.
Today, I’d like to share a story of my own about how I came to be fascinated with and love voice over, something that perhaps many of you can relate to.
After you’ve read my account, I’d love it if you shared your story too!

Disney and Saturday Morning Cartoons From Early Childhood

If it weren’t for Walt Disney and other animators who gave voice to characters in film and on television, I highly doubt that voice acting would be as remarkably intriguing, spellbinding or desirable, for the majority of our first encounters with voice over are through animation and film.

My first memory of voice over stems from Walt Disney’s animated classic, Sleeping Beauty, a movie that happens to be celebrating it’s fiftieth anniversary this year. The voice actors and voice actresses danced through my mind and I’d join the chorus singing along to “Once Upon a Dream”, a song I believe can also be attributed to my love of singing.

Although Sleeping Beauty’s voice itself was beautiful, I remember the velvety voice of Maleficent (Eleanor Audley) with more clarity, a voice that was powerful, dark and controlled whether portraying an evil stepmother (Audley also performed Lady Tremaine in Cinderella) or in this case, an evil fairy.

One other Disney character voice that really struck me in my preschool years was Robin Hood, or as people in the real world would acknowledge, the voice of Brian Bedford.
Listening to these melodic voices was entrancing and I’ve been listening to voices ever since.
On a more humourous note, a couple of other memories include trying to do poor imitations of Woody Woodpecker and Daffy Duck; which was worse, I’ll never know 🙂

If Nothing Else, Children Of The 80s Watched Cartoons That Ruled

For all of the embarrassing fashion trends, hairdos, geeky dancing and spandex, the 80s did in fact yield something worth talking about and cherishing. This decade wasn’t exactly the picture of perfection but it sure did offer some of the best and most beloved cartoon series that ever were.

Sometimes I find myself looking through IMDb listings to check the voice casts from programming I watched as a child and am often pleasantly surprised to see the names of people I know and also people I am blessed to call my friends.

A couple of days ago, I was looking up the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and discovered to my delight that Townsend Coleman was the voice of Michelangelo, my favourite pepperoni pizza, nunchucks slinging turtle in a half shell, I must say. Among others in the credit list were Jim Cummings, a great friend Pat Fraley and the generous talent that is Beau Weaver, which was totally tubular if you know what I mean.

Teenage Years

I think this is when people become aware of voice over used for other applications such as commercials, movie trailers, radio and so on. You’re liberally exposed to advertisements and voice over becomes more apparent. This is probably when I noticed that there were such things as promos for television shows and heard my first sound bite from Randy Thomas on Entertainment Tonight 🙂

You also have disposable income as a teenager and pay closer attention to things you may wish to purchase, being gently persuaded by that nice voice on TV who makes you want to buy things. Movie trailers were gripping, but I wouldn’t have known who did them then while I sat in blissful ignorance with everyone else. It wasn’t until much later that the world would meet the voice behind the ‘white knuckle thrill ride of the year’ who opened new doors with the three transporting, adrenaline pumping words, “In a World”.

If only our teachers in high school could have competed better with the voice over giants in Hollywood who captivated audiences within seconds and kept you on the edge of your seat… listening to documentaries became a passion back then for me and I think that’s how I managed to get through and enjoy most lectures attended at school and university as I completed my music degree, specializing in voice.

Present Day

Now I find that I’ve widened my horizons and take notice of voice over wherever it is present. It’s a comfort to hear voice overs. Voice overs aren’t merely entertainment. Voice overs are truly omnipresent and serve so many different and necessary purposes.
I can’t imagine a better industry to be working in or with better people 🙂
Well, that’s my story. Can I hear yours?

Leave a Comment!

Looking forward to hearing from you,
©iStockphoto.com/Andrzej Burak


  1. Hi Stephanie,
    I remember listening to WLS in Chicago and thinking all those commercials and even the music, was done “live”! When I was a little kid, I pictured the bands setting up at the radio station and then throwing it over to some guy to read a commercial. I too was fasinated with cartoons. I always would try to imitate the voices. Later, I got to tour our local radio station and decided that might be fun. Never really wanting to be a disc jockey, I wanted to do the commercials. So, in High School, I needed a summer job and that little local station said I could come in a record some commercials and I did a weekend shift….plus, took out the garbage! I’ve been in radio production for 29 years now and have come to see the world of voice over as more than commercials. It has been a learning curve to try to get the “radio” out of my delivery, but then I have always looked at doing those commercials as more “acting” than just reading a script before I get to go home! Recently I got the chance to record my first audio book and I continue to produce my “Radio Dad” feature and podcast (www.radiodad.com). I also, continue to grow and learn this wonderful craft from folks such as yourself and am blessed to know some fine pros like Tim Gehlsen and Polly Peterson. Thanks for all you do here, Mike Austin

  2. The first voice over I remember making an impression on me was Charlie the Jack in the Box from Rudolph (Carl Banas).
    Presently I can not get over the power of the voice of Linda Hunt. I always recognize her work instantly!
    JS Falkenberg

  3. Even though I just recently started seriously pursuing a career in voice acting, it was a few years ago that I actually started to gain interest in it. At the time, right before I started college, I was starting to do impressions when I was bored, and this resulted in many compliments from friends and family. That was the first time I really considered it, but I wasn’t really serious about it. At the time, I was focused on getting a music education degree. However, a bit after that, I discovered Mr. Charles Martinet. I had always wondered who did the voice of Mario, and I was surprised to discover that the same man did the voices for the majority of the Nintendo characters. That was what really inspired me. I wanted to be like him, to be able to believably voice multiple characters in a show, movie, video game, etc. Ever since then, my interest in voice acting has just been getting stronger, until that day back in July of this year that a friend introduced me to the Voice Acting Club. But that’s another story for another time.
    Dan Conlin

  4. Ya know, I haven’t really given it a whole lot of thought before! My voice is who I am. When I was about 8 years old my sisters went away to college. On vacations they returned with fascinating stories about the people they had met, the music they were listening to, and I listened to them! We enjoyed singing Irish rebellion songs at the top of our lungs (and still do, great for car trips), and telling stories of annoying roommates and collegiate encounters, complete with voices. We still enjoy reading to each other and acting out all the characters. I ended up studying opera, and then touring with musical theatre, and after many years treading “the boards” I now embrace the collaborative environment of the booth. And all the characters I could never play on stage (without spending hours in the makeup chair) are now at my fingertips!

  5. I remember trying to impersonate the many incarnations of Mel Blanc from Loony Tunes/Merry Melodies. Some I could do others I did even though they were way off. I found myself trying to imitate the voice of just about every one of my favorite cartoon characters.
    In my teen years I got into the anime scene and that’s when I first truly looked at the voices as someone behind the animation. This led me to my very first voice acting experience, a crossover fan parody titled “$$60,000,000,000 Funky Chicken”. It was about Spike from Cowboy Bebop hunting down Vash from Trigun. I had so much fun doing the voices and the work in general that I looked for more information on the profession.
    That leads us to today. I have settled down and started to become a serious voice actor. I am still relatively new to the field but I truly feel that voice acting is my calling!

  6. Hi there,
    I can recall watching cartoons when I was quite young. Saturday mornings were filled with swimming lessons and ski lessons most weekends. Some late Saturday afternoons, Bugs Bunny and the Road Runner cartoons would be on. My Dad would watch them with me. We would both laugh out loud. I thought it was so cool that Dad liked cartoons too!
    After highschool I began working in radio. Reading spots is a part of the job and that gave me a taste of voice acting. Eventually I had a chance to audition for a few PBS animated series, which I eventually got a few roles.
    My favorite more recent memory was when my son was around 5 years old and we were watching the cartoon Arthur and he said; Daddy, is that you? I’ll never forget that feeling…Then the challenge was to see if he wouldn’t be able to recognize my voice on other characters.

  7. Stephanie, you were a voice major? Fantastic! I wonder how many others come from music/singing to voiceover. It just gives you one more skill that you can sell.
    I competed on my high school forensics team in Chicagoland, and then on the team at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. I specialized in Oral Interpretation, which is prose, poetry, and dramatic interp (a cutting from a play or novel). My major was Speech with an emphasis in Oral Interp.– I MAJORED IN STORYTELLING! I not only loved it, I found I was pretty good at it, and our team placed at nationals every year I was there. While still in college, I got a job at one of the local radio stations on the weekends, which morphed into a full-time midday shift on AM (Top 40). I stayed in radio for 5 years, both there and at a station in Florida. I wasn’t very good on the air (I got TERRIBLE butterflies before my shift–for FIVE YEARS!!), but what I was good at was production. So here, THIRTY years later, I’m still at it, having been self-employed for 20 years (Halloween is my 20th anniversary), and unable to imagine a better job than this!!!!

  8. I can point to four people who inspired me:
    [1] My brother. When we were kids, he was the first person I knew who could make himself sound like other people.
    [2] Mel Blanc. I grew up on Warner Bros. cartoons and was amazed a how versatile the man’s voice was. From an early age I would tell people that my dream gig is voicing cartoon characters. One of these days!
    [3] George Carlin. “Class Clown” was both a revelation and an inspiration to me at the tender age of 13. Using goofy voices for comic effect in my everyday life had never occurred to me before him. Also, I still enjoy invoking his cheesy DJ voice and used it in one of my gigs.
    [4] John Jackowski. You probably don’t know him, but he’s a good friend of mine and fellow actor. It was he who put me on the right track toward getting serious about VO.
    Honorable mention has to go to Billy West, who continues to amaze me with his versatility. Hearing his old bits from the Stern show still fill me with awe and make me laugh like nothing else.

  9. I love this post! Thank you to Stephanie, and everyone else, for sharing their stories of VO inspiration.
    Ever since playing around on my Dad’s old reel-to-reel tape recorder when I was young, I wanted to be in radio. When working in customer service at the phone company after high school, many customers would reaffirm that dream by telling me that I should be in radio.
    Anyway, I guess the first two things that first planted the seeds of wanting to be a Voice Actor, were:
    1) While in one of my Radio/Television Broadcasting courses at Fullerton College, the department head was speaking to the class and suggested that we consider looking into Voice-Overs as a career. That was the first I had ever thought about it, but obviously the thought stuck.
    2) Later, while flipping through Dan O’Day’s Radio/Promotions “O’Whole Catalog” of radio training tapes, I stumbled across an interesting title: “How To Get Out Of Radio…Work From Home..”. Hmmmm, I thought. I was just starting out in radio, and hadn’t even thought of “getting out” of it. But, I was getting tired of going from station to station, always working weekends, never having any creative control, getting paid almost minimum wage, etc. I had already started doing some stages plays at the local community theatre. I loved it!
    So, after the last radio station I was at went mostly automated, and let many of the on-air talent go, I thought that this is the time to maybe “get out of radio”, “work from home”, and to use my voice talents for voice-overs and other things. In 2005 I started getting some voice acting and podcast consulting jobs (which gave me extra income), as well as doing my own podcasts (which gave me total creativity).
    Thank you to Jim Bain at Fullerton College and to Dan O’Day for planting the voice acting seeds!

  10. I studied acting and improv back in college, and continued taking courses while working my real job. I’m a fan of anime, but they don’t always do a great job when they dub it into English. It wasn’t until I saw “Cowboy Bebop” that I realized that it was possible to make an original work even better with the right talent and production. I focused more on voice-overs, and have been studying it since 2000.

  11. While I also grew up with the legendary “Looney Tunes”, I have to admit that my voice acting interest was really juiced up by the ensemble known as “The Firesign Theatre”.
    The collective works of Phil Austin, Peter Bergman, David Ossman and Philip Proctor kept me glued to my headphones (yes, you really got the best results from their stuff when you listened via headphones). Their work was reminiscent of the radio dramas of the twenties/thirties/forties complete with non-high-tech sound effects. Their work is still out there and I believe re-released on cd.
    Great question, and thank you for raising it!
    Glenn Carella

  12. Hmmm I am not so sure for myself how it inspired me but I just love it. In my younger years, my sister and I always do silly voices to each other that aren’t us. We did it for fun since we both are wierd. done acting since elementary school through college productions playing variety of characters from mother – boy – psycho – valley girl in variety of voices. I did one voice for someones senior project in college and loved how i did my normal range in just one take with one line. Also loved making weird voices in acting classes which i think is a lot of fun. People in class always loved how I make funny voices that are joyful for them. So when took a animation voice over after graduated college, I had a lot of fun in the voice over both and knowing thats what i like to do including great time with the people who love making voices. The person who taught always keeps cracking up when i say the most random stuff, lol. So yeah getting more trained in my voice over coach since
    January 08 including dialect coach too which helps a lot. Got character voices down just helping more on commercial with normal range 🙂 Having a great time.

  13. I have to agree with you about Walt Disney!!! I know he inspired me -or maybe its because I have the same birthday as him.

  14. I used to (and still) get teased a lot about my voice, even kids called me baby-voice, some called me squeeky…i could not talk in front of anyone without having odd reactions. I got upset sometimes, and saw it as a disadvantage, but i had some people tell me that it was actually an advantage. My mom hates it when i try to make my voice sound deeper when singing (she’ll yell…use your natural voice!!). A couple of people told me that i sounded “cartoonish”, and why dont i try doing voice-acting! i got that question especially when i mimicked cartoons characters, and that was what led me to voices.com!
    It’s a job i know i would enjoy, because apart from being a natural talent, it’s what i do for fun!
    I really hope i get round to doing these jobs, there’s nothing like doing what you enjoy and what you do best!

  15. I, too, am a child of Disney. My mom and sister, and my Aunt and cousin, we were raised on Disney and I continue the tradition with my daughter (whose favorite is also Sleeping Beauty). It was first the Little Mermaid then Beauty and the Beast that began my desire to be a voice actor. I just love Disney Magic~

  16. I feel the same way as the others who have spoken already. I fell in love with voice acting listening to some of the greats like Mel Blanc. Then when I went into college I fell in love with Anime i.e. Cowboy Bebop, DBZ, and several others, so I pursued Singing and Acting/directing. And, I have been trying to find my way into voice acting ever since, working off of a college student’s wages.
    What really got my attention to voice acting, before I fell in love with anime or even Mel Blanc, was old radio serials. I have adored radio theatre since before I knew who Bugs Bunny was. But after OTR and Mel Blanc came along I was a Disney fan, with the likes of Robin Williams playing Genie in Aladdin it was at that point I started mimicking several different voice actors, which later gave me my love of acting.

  17. Wow, it is exciting to read these posts. The power of the human voice is a marvel. I think that’s what inspired me to take care of voices. I love reading about about how people “find their voices,” and create a fulfilling career.

  18. My love of voice acting found me when my first job snuck up on me in 4th grade!
    My family was living in South Korea because my dad was a music teacher for Seoul Foreign School, an international private school. One day my chorus teacher asked me to stay after school to learn a few extra songs. As it turns out, the songs I learned were my audition for a South Korean Producion company making English Language software for Korean Children.
    Recording took four weekends, since the three other girls chosen were also in elementary school they didn’t want us staying up late on weekdays. I was one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had.
    Now that I’ve got my degree in theatre arts, I’m applying my talents to the microphone, and loving every minute of it!
    Ashley Huyge

  19. I was approached by a friend of mine while on a tour bus. She worked for ABC and I was pretending to be the tour guide in a moment of levity after I had gained control of the microphone. She asked if I could be available for Voice work if they ever needed someone on short notice. I agreed and the rest is history!

  20. For me, like many people in this genre, I love Saturday morning cartoons.
    I was a child in the early 90’s so it was superheroes: X-Men, Spiderman, and most notably Batman. I’ve always wanted to be /the/voice of a character, like James Earl Jones is /the/ voice of Vader.
    So that’s what I aspire to.

  21. Hi, Stephanie! I love this thread; everyone has such interesting stories about how they entered a storytelling profession! 🙂
    My love of voice-over started in 5th grade. My school had raised money to buy a police helicopter, and I won the contest to name it. I remember they called me to give the good news on a Saturday morning when I was watching cartoons. What synchronicity! 🙂
    Part of my prize in winning the contest was to go to a TV station to record a PSA. I loved reading from the teleprompter, and doing it quickly and easily in just a few takes. I also loved being around all of the cool equipment. (Okay, so I was a geek even back then…)
    When I saw the spot, I didn’t like how my face looked because I was not looking at the camera. I could tell that I was looking at the teleprompter. However, I have always loved to read, and something about reading aloud for that PSA was captivating to me.
    Here we are, a few (ahem) years later, and I still love to read aloud in front of a microphone and other cool equipment!
    PS. Disney Magic also entered my story. The other part of my prize in the contest was a weekend trip to DisneyWorld with my family. 🙂
    Karen Commins

  22. Hello to everybody! Thank you Stephanie, you encouraged me to write here for the first time. I’m pretty new at Voices.com although I’m a professional voice over since 1990.
    At the beginning of this year I started reasearching through the web looking for something new in the voice over industry. I’ve found places were I was able to upload my audio files but I realized that no site is like Voices.com!
    Here I found an opportunity to share, to learn and also to help.
    Congratulations for making this site a home for voice talents all over the world.
    I was born in Uruguay, South America, a beautiful and little country between two giants, Brazil and Argentina. I love voice acting since I was at school although at that time our industry was small and it sounds strange for everybody to hear someone saying “I want to be a voice talent”. But I knew that I had to honour the gift and study to learn how to be professional.
    It was 1988 and the best vocal teacher was really expensive but I was so sure about it that I decided to speak seriouslly with my mom. I remember I said “please make the effort because I know I’m going to do it great”! I think I beg. I was so possitive about it, so passionate, so happy!
    When I read all the experiences in this blog I made a vogaye through those years when each day I became for 24 hours the character I heard on tv. If I was watching a film from Spain I became a gypsy, if I was watching Disney classics I was Snow White or Bambi, if there was a documentary I was the narrator. At first it was like a game and of course, at school, everybody asked me to “do voices”.
    Immediately after finishing my voice studies I went to an audition in the most important FM station. They wanted a fresh voice for a 5 hour live programme. I had no experience but I had the knowledge united to the passion and – in addition – I was an english speaker. This was very important because the announcer was going to present english music. I won the audition among 100 candidates and at that moment I became a professional voice talent in Uruguay.
    My career started there. I worked on that FM Station for 4 years while the agents and brands asked for my voice and I realized other stations wanted my voice to “brand” them.
    The story is long, I continued studying always, singing lessons, theater, improvisation, latinamerican neutral, music and much more.
    I love my profession and I think that there are so many possibilities to do different things. The more I study the more I realize that there are no horizons in voice over and through the years I started experiencing also a joy to pass the knowledge. I became a spanish voice coach and I created my own project.
    Now I live since 2005 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and I’m working as a voice over for different countries such as Mexico, Colombia, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay and U.S.A.
    Lots of things are arriving to my mind at this moment but I don’t want to make it too long. I really hope we can continue sharing our experiences and I appreciate so much being with all of you in this great community. I apologize for any mistake, my mother tongue is spanish but I love english and I feel it has been my gold key to undertake my projects and arrive to unthinkable possibilities.
    Knowledge is freedom and our Voices are a universal treasure for interchanging feelings and thoughts and make them really close to us no matter where or how we are.
    My best regards for all you,

  23. Stephanie!
    In England of course our Radio tradition is a great reverberating source of inspiration for ‘voice actors’. I personally was hugely inspired by listening to great comedy shows like ‘Round the Horne’ and ‘I’m sorry I’ll read that again,’ as well as great radio drama provided by the BBC. Naturally cartoons and TV are inspirational but just hearing voices on their own and allowing them to conjour up fantastic images was one of the reasons I became an actor and consequently led to my doing voices as part of the whole acting experience.
    Jonathan Kydd

  24. I was behind the mic on SF Bay Area radio stations for 19 years. I kept gettting caught in the corporate buy outs. I loved voicing commercials while on radio, so the transition to voice overs made sense. I took 1 year of extensive training. Landed an Agent, STARS, and now am voicing away! I LOVE this work..I look forward everyday to voice. My specialty is narrations, tutorials and industrials….I am dreaming for that National TV or radio commercial with residuals!

  25. Ever since I was a kid I can remember trying to do impressions of my favorite cartoon characters or as I got older celebrities I saw on TV. As I got older I developed an interest in radio and have been in broadcasting for about a decade now. I got to do some voices and impressions during that time but in the last few years I’ve really enjoyed trying to develop my impressions and character voices. I’ve landed a couple of jobs as a result and it helps keep the kid in me alive.

  26. Well, I’ve always done goofy voices, and last year the Rose Parade needed some voice work done. The person they hired couldn’t make it, so my wife asked if I would do it. It went well, the engineer said I should do this for a living, and here we are. (I’m doing the parade Podcast again this year.)

  27. Hi Stephanie,
    I’ve only recently discovered your web, but as with so many other events, I don’t think it was by accident. I haven’t shared this story for awhile but it’s the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth!
    So it’s about 11:30 p.m., and I’m walking home from the English school where I’ve been teaching for about two and a half months. February in Tokyo is cold, think Boston, and I’m wrapped in a ski parka, scarf and heavy gloves. My walk took about 30 minutes and always gave me time to reflect on things. I had committed myself to one year here, put everything in storage in northern california, sold a car, brought the cats to New York, and came to Japan without the promise of a job, unable to speak Japanese, and knowing not a soul. I now lived in a small hotel in central Tokyo, had a job in a private english school, and had learned to ask how much is that, where’s the bathroom and where’s the station. But one point was certain, I wasn’t having as much fun teaching English as the book(Jobs in Japan) said I would. What to do?
    Then, as has happened before, Providence stepped in, this time as a retired Japanese TV actress. She was opening a Pet store in the international area of Tokyo and wanted to improve her English speaking ability. I was assigned to be her instructor, twice a week. One afternoon as she was leaving, she uttered the words that would change my life, “Tom-san, there’s someone that I would like to introduce you to.”
    And so I met, Mrs. Inagawa, who looks, for all intents and purposes, like everyones grandmother. She just happens to run the most successful Production-talent-translation-location business in Japan. We had a nice formal interview. A few days later she offered to “Sponsor” me(think Green-card) to work for her company. How curious this was. I left LA to take a sabbatical from Hollywood, and somehow, it had found me in Tokyo. Well of course I took the offer, left the school, and began working jobs for Mrs. Inagawa’s company. At first I was doing background work in TV, video and film. Not very challenging but more interesting in that I was now traveling a lot, both in and out of Tokyo. Eventually I would do more satisfying work in films, commercials, training videos, and TV. All good stuff. One year became 2, then 3, then more. Along about the fourth year, it was obvious that the Japanese economy was suffering from the bursting of it’s economic bubble, very similar to what we are seeing today in America. Work was hard to come by and several foreigners I knew were leaving Japan.
    One day I got a call from Mrs. Inagawa, “Tom-san, I need you to do a special job for me.” After a wild ride through Tokyo with Mrs. Inagawa at the wheel of her car, we arrived at our destination, a small but upscale looking building. She rushed me in, introduced me to someone, he handed me a script, and lead me to a closet with a small window, and opened the door. This was the first small recording booth I’d ever seen, fortunately it wouldn’t be my last. I stood there in the doorway looking at the monitor, the mic, the little box with a red and green light, and most everything covered in felt. I said to myself, “Here’s another nice mess you’ve gotten yourself into!”
    The job was an in-flight report for ANA airlines. They liked what I did, and I continued that monthly report for a year until they changed production companies. It opened doors for me. Voice recording substantially replaced on-camera work and as my work increased, so did my network, and so did my work, significantly. Very circular experience. Then after ten years and for several reasons we(I had become a We) returned to America, to Los Angeles.
    I was unprepared for what I would discover returning to VO work in LA. Just the sophistication of home studio development was amazing what with numerous choices in hardware & software, and treating the room, and add to that the difficulty of getting an Agent(and do you really want one), and the constant bickering in-n-out of SAG and AFTRA. Whew! But I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
    Not knowing exactly where and how to begin, I began as a volunteer reader for the Braille Institute in LA, all the while learning the How-to’s of creating a VO Biz of my own. I’m not quite ready for prime-time but I’m close and I’m thinking that Voices.com is going to help me put the finishing touches on my dream. And what a worthwhile dream it is.
    All the best,


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