FriendsVoice over is a friendly business and certainly the having of friends in voice over makes a big difference in your career, whether you’re just getting started or you’re in a position to give a helping hand.

Read this fab article from guest blogger Bill Oxley, someone who grew up on the greener side of the proverbially industry grass, and learn how you can make career changing connections today, even if you didn’t go to elementary or high school in Southern California.

You Gotta Have Friends

By Bill Oxley
“Location, location, location” is the most influential characteristic of valuable real estate, as we all learned; but did you know that a similar mantra applies to the most influential characteristic of your successful voiceover career? It sure does! That mantra is, “Friends, friends, friends.”

I grew up in Southern California. Burbank, to be exact. Some of the neighborhood kids had dads and moms in the entertainment business, so it was no big deal to go play at the homes of stars, like good ole, long-retired Roy from The Mickey Mouse Club, or the voiceover lady who yelled the words, “Hey Culligan Man!” for the water softener company, which earned her decades of income.

So, I always felt rather sorry for some of my friends and relatives back east who wanted to get into show business, or voiceover, because they were stranded thousands of miles from the epicenter of entertainment. In order to break into the business, they’d have to move to Southern California; or, they’d have to settle for something less and break into the fascinating world of fast food back in Farmington.

Even as recently as ten years ago, if you wanted to get into show business or voiceover, you had to be here.

For example, when I hired the most famous and accomplished voiceover artist of all time, Gary Owens, to record some spots for my advertising agency, we would work at the beautiful facilities of L.A. Studios. It was there after our fifth session together that Gary introduced me to Dennis Holt, the founder of the world’s largest media buying company, a business relationship that continues to be valuable to me today.

See? “Friends, friends, friends.”
(During my very first session with Gary Owens, I sat across the glass in the control booth as Gary got settled in front of the mic. I noticed that there were no headphones in the booth, so I jumped on the intercom and asked The Master if he’d like some cans. He replied, with his hand over his ear in classic Gary Owens mellifluous fashion, “No thank you, Bill. They’re built in.” I may have wet my pants laughing… and you know, he may have been right!)

But, what about you? Who are your friends?

If you don’t live in Southern California, how in the world can you cultivate these friendships and succeed in voiceover? Well, certainly living here is best, but thanks to Al Gore (or whomever it was that invented the internet), you can have instant contact with anyone, anywhere. Very likely, you’ve already been taking advantage of technology. You have a home studio; you’re a member of; you’re taking voiceover classes; and, you’re improving everyday.

But, how do you cultivate friends from a long distance?

Treat your internet presence as you would your personal appearance.
Is your Web site perfect? State-of-the-art? Cutting edge? If you can answer ‘yes’ to those questions, then you are well on your way to making a positive first impression on your prospective new friends. Once your first impression is made, then you can work on the core of the relationship with your new acquaintances that you want as your friends.

Use common sense, which sometimes isn’t so common:

๏ Be sharp
๏ Engage
๏ Initiate
๏ Be helpful
๏ Follow up
๏ Appreciate
๏ Be kind
๏ Improve

Personally, I carry UCLA Coach John Wooden’s Secret to Success in my wallet, ’cause I make mistakes, become impatient, overlook details, hurt someone’s feelings, and so on. In short, I’m not perfect, but John Wooden’s words help put me on the right track.
And, remember what Gary Owens told me, “You never know…”, and by that he meant that you and I never know where our next gig is coming from, but we always know how well or how poorly we’ve treated our clients, studio minions and strangers.

So: Be nice. Be nice to everyone. Just like mom said when we were kids.

I also have to say that I don’t think I’ve ever met a celebrity who makes even the most humble person feel like royalty, until I met Gary Owens; and, I’m sure that in your life you have people you know who treat others well. Take that evidence to heart, if you haven’t already, and apply it to your professional voiceover life.
Remember: your reputation is all that you have.
Make it a good one!
You’ll quickly find yourself surrounded by, “Friends, friends, friends.”
Bill Oxley

Can You Relate to Bill’s article? Leave a comment!

Best wishes from your friends,
Bill Oxley and Stephanie Ciccarelli
© Wackerhausen


  1. Stephanie and Bill,
    Excellent stuff here. I’m deeply grateful for the friends I’ve made through the years and for those who have become friends in the last few years. It’s a great business and there are so many nice people it seems to me sometimes that being nice and voice acting go together automatically.
    Be well,

  2. Thank you Bill for saying exactly what Mom used to say….”if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” You have to remember that those that you see when you are climbing the ladder are the same people that you will see on the way down. I believe that I was most impressed by the late Don LaFontaine. He was nice to everyone – newbies and polished pros. He led by example and that has served me well in my career.
    For me, this has been a year of really pushing the envelope as far as networking. Sure we are in competition for some of the same jobs, but there’s plenty of action out there for all of us. We are a community….when is the next mixer for all of us?!

  3. An interesting read Bill, thanks!
    Networking is one thing that I’ve not been great at so far and I think that this coming year will be one aspect of my career I will attempt to improve.
    It’s a shame that it’s not always the same the other way round, while I have met plenty of nice & friendly VO’s, it can’t be said for the people that do the hiring. Just recently I got burned by an employer, funnily, he was so saccarine that you could see through him.
    If any of you good people are ever in London (as I know the US contingent on here far out-weigh the UK) let us know, I know I’d sure like to shake hands with you!
    And hey, if there are any London based UK VO’s reading this, drop me an E-Mail, Internet based VO gets very lonely sometimes!

  4. Stephanie! Bill!
    Thanks so much for this great piece.
    I agree that it really IS all about friends. I KNOW that I would not be as far along in my VO career had it not been for the generosity of of my friends…many VO friends which I first met online & then went on to meet in real life! (Hi Steph! Hi Bob! 🙂
    They have been generous with their time, knowlege and support. I try to repay their favors by helping others as well.
    I love the VO community, I love my job and making friends around the world is an added bonus! 🙂

  5. Spot-on!
    I once had a co-worker whose mantra was, “Say what you mean, and mean what you say, but don’t say it in a mean way.” Since one of my nicknames is Civil Dave, apparently that’s a lesson well-learned.
    David Cook

  6. This is so true. My mother always said …”you can catch more flies with honey than you do with vinager.”
    Whether it be my upbringing, Virgo nature, or just the personality I was born with…I seem to be a social butterfly. Having a network of people around you helps you as a person & advances your career. you never know where you next gig could come from. following up with those you haven’t seen or spoken to in a while is so much easier these days…….E-mail, Networking sites such as Facebook etc….It really is good to be know as a person who is a nice person, that is easy to work with, listens to direction & gets the job done.
    I come across a lot of jealous people in the business of the Performing Arts (I Sing , Act in musical theatre & of course Act in Voice overs). I come across people who will say or do things to try & get me angry or ruin my reputation infront of others with lies/ hurtful things. I remember another saying from my mom – …”kill them with kindness”. I do in fact live by her words. I have diffused many a jealous person by just being kind to them… sometimes even befriending them so they get to kow me. It is better to surround ones self with friends….” another saying of my mom’s…”and to keep ones enemies even closer .”
    Burning bridges is bad… so if you have to vent do it in a journal & then burn the journal instead of your bridge to your possible next gig.
    Maggie M.

  7. What a wonderful article Bill. And boy – Right On!
    I’ve always followed that advice from as far back as I can remember. The one sitting next to you in a booth today, may be the producer of your next big project. Or they may recommend you because you were so easy to work with on the last one. I love to network and I love to share. It only makes you stronger and leaves a trail of happy associates as you move along in your career.
    I love treating people with respect and grace, because it drives some of them batty. I hear so many horror stories about how hard “so and so” is to work with. It makes it all so much more enjoyable to just be a nice and pleasant person in a live session or on ISDN.
    As I’ve always been told – it takes many more muscles in your face to frown, than to smile. It’s a good mantra to follow.

  8. Excellent article. It used to be we’d make local voiceover friends at union meetings & events, or at studios where we’d be sent to work or auditions. While I miss that era a bit, I have made an even larger amount of v-o pals “virtually” and in person at networking and class events, and voice forums & blogs. Very gratifying, and fun!

  9. Friends are so important in any walk of life a person persues. Connections can make or break a person. I’m still looking to make many in VO Land, since I’m still trying to break through here. Anyone want to be my friend? 🙂


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