Angie Azur is a YA Sci-fi Writer.
Writer for PALEO Magazine.
Former Intern at the Andrea Brown Literary Agency.
SCBWI & COWG Member.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Interview with Voice Over Actor: Susan Chesler

I met Susan in LA via a close friend. Her and I hit it off pretty quickly being both creative types. She's a lovely person, sweet with a sense of humor. Kind and gentle, children are drawn to her. So it's no wonder she's the voice of Polly Pocket. And when I first heard that known voice come out of her I was blown away. 

Her demo reel proves her vast talent in this hollywood niche. I don't know how she does it, but she can sound like a baby, a child of any age, a boy and an old person. It's strange to sit across from her, knowing her real voice, and then hear this completely other voice come out of her mouth. She has a jaw-dropping ability!

She's a wonderfully, multi-talented, giving person. And you'd be lucky to call her friend...I am.  

Below are the questions I asked her:

1.    How did you first get noticed for your voice? 
I was acting, but doing massage to pay my bills.  Little did I know that I was working on the president and CEO of a major kids' network, whom I was helping with some physical ailments.  

She said to me, "You have a unique voice.  Have you ever thought about doing voice overs?"  That moment changed my life.  I had always thought about it, but hadn't acted on it.  

I took my first class in a hurry as she gave me my first job.  In that class, I discovered that I could do kids' voices, which is one of my strong suits.

2.    Have you always lived in LA? 
Yes, except when I was in college.

3.    In 5 words, describe a typical recording day. 
Fulfilling. Grateful. Sometimes nerve wracking.

4.    How supportive are your friends and family in your creative career? 

5.    Have you ever done on screen acting? If no, would you like to? 
 I thought that is what I wanted to do, but I was never happy, focused or confident when I was trying.

6.    Who is your favorite coach/teacher? Why? 
Susan Blu as she encouraged my to risk and flail in her class. She discovered my knack for kids's characters and she helped me get going with my career. 

Ginny McSwain for her straight forward direction.  

Charlie Adler for helping me to rediscover my talent and for saying, "You are meant to be in this business." 

Cathy Kalmenson, who taught me two basic things that I use in every commercial audition.

7.    How many voices do you have in your arsenal?  
Hmmm...maybe 20 or 25?  Don't know.  If I were organized, I would have them all on index cards.

8.    Do you physically act out a part while you are recording? 
Yes!  As we have to get our character across only through our voice, I find that being physical is the only way to be.

9.    Do you hope your children follow your example?  
I don't have a career goal for my kids, other than my deep hope that they find their passion and follow it.

10.    How do you keep your voice in tip-top condition? 
I absolutely must start taking care of my voice.  I am about to read Roger Love's book.

11.    What is your favorite commercial you've done?  
Polly Pocket!  The funniest one was when I booked a job on a two word audition:  "Hey, Chuck."  Now, that was plain old luck.

12.    Who is your favorite actor? Who would you most like to work with? 
Don't have a favorite actor, but there are tons of people I would most like to work with:  Tim Curry and my friend Richard Horvitz are two of them.

13.    Tea or coffee?  
I really want to be a tea person, but coffee still wins out most days.  

14.    Does an agent represent you? 
Yes.  They have been supportive of me through ups and downs.  But, the post production voice work that I do (called ADR) does not require an agent and this is where I have been making much of my living lately.

15.    What are your creative goals for the next year? 
To work on my animation skills, especially my audition skills.  Also, to work out my voice.  And, I am wayyyy overdue in updating my demo-- it is embarasingly old.

16.    Give us one word that describes you. 

17.    What are some insider terms when recording? Any funny ones like break a leg? Or break a voice?  
From ADR:  My favorites are "donut" and "mushroom."

donut:  we walk in a circle in front of the microphone. Sometimes we speak only when in the front of the "donut" and sometimes we speak the entire time.  This technique is used in certain circumstances to create a busy sound, for instance on a city street.

mushrooms: are similar, but people walk to the mic and then split off, either to the left or right.

18.    How often do you work out your voice? Your body? 
I wish, wish, wish that I could say that I work out my voice regularly.  Now that my youngest child is in kindergarten, my commitment to body and voice are priorities.  

19. How can my blog readers help make you an even bigger success?
 Wow, such a thoughtful question!  They can go to the Polly Pocket website  and let them know they want more of me.  And, next time I book animation (praying that will be soon), maybe I can let you know and they can write in that they liked my work-- if they did in fact like my work.

20.    What is a voice over demo tape? And do you think it's necessary to get a job in this industry? 
A demo, which seems to mostly be heard through websites or sent by email these days, seems to be necessary for commercials, promos and animation.  

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