Today’s 5 Questions for a Professional Voice Over Talent are answered by Rosi Amador, a professional voice-over talent based in Cambridge, MA.
1. The beginning: When did you know you wanted to be a voiceover talent? how did your career begin (please include what year it started)
I had the good fortune that voiceovers came to me in a very organic way. My husband, guitarist/voice actor Brian Amador and I have been professional touring Latin musicians performing cultural and educational concerts for adults and children since 1984. As a result, many educators, arts presenters and fans were aware of us, particularly since in the beginning we performed at many benefit concerts for social justice and peace in Latin America. Starting in the late 1980’s we were called on occasionally by music colleagues involved with educational publishers, to narrate children’s Spanish eLearning projects for Scholastic and other publishers. That continued sporadically, but then in 1996, the hospital where I gave birth to my twin baby girls asked if I’d do a promotional campaign for them including radio ads telling my story and how great the hospital had been to our family. They realized that we had a following for our Latin band in the same target area as their patients. That was a no-brainer! Once I did that, I was hooked for good.
Over the next eighteen years I continued touring nationally with Sol y Canto, but when I was home both Brian and I continued to do children’s eLearning, in both English and Spanish, working at various studios. It was such a refreshing change from our life on the road as musicians, and it gave me the opportunity to do something I’d done in high school and college, and loved – to act. My parents passed on their love of music and acting to me since they were professional actors, musicians and dancers. In fact, my Puerto Rican/”Nuyorican” mom was on Broadway, joined the U.S.O during WWII and performed alongside Bob Hope, Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin – all this before going to Mexico to do live theater and make movies. And my Argentine dad was a radio host who and radio drama actor as well as a stage actor. Needless to say, it would have been difficult for me to not be a musician or voice actor!
Finally, in 2009 Brian and I decided that we wanted to spend less time on the road and spend more time with our growing girls, now . They were now teenagers and needed us to be present more and more, so what came to my mind very clearly was to do more research and start getting educated about my “other passion” – voiceovers. I took classes, found mentors, and off I went to tell Brian we needed to enhance the modest music recording studio we already had at home and turn it into a topnotch professional voiceover studio. As we began decreasing our touring little by little, we started building our bilingual voiceover clientele locally until we turned the paradigm around in the last year; voiceovers became our full-time career, and music is something we do on the side. We love it – life is much more sane now and we love our voiceover work!
2. What is the one thing you know now that you wish someone had told you when you first started out in voiceover?
For years I had the unsubstantiated notion that one could only have a voiceover career if you lived in NYC or L.A. It kept me from starting to move in this direction much earlier. Once I connected with a VO mentor and started actually researching what being a voiceover actor truly meant, I quickly realized that this was not so, and that living in the Boston area would not be an issue.
3. What do you see as the biggest professional or personal obstacle you face that impacts your voiceover business and how are you working to overcome it?
My biggest personal/professional obstacle that affects my voiceover business is one that I know is common to many entrepreneurs: organizing my time in such a way that even when I’m very busy doing my voiceover work I can still do a good job marketing continually. My desire is to keep growing my regular clientele and I know too well that much of it depends on how well I market and how happy I make my customers with our services, which takes time when your goal is you provide excellent service. I am working with a business coach to remedy this. Also, after having a functional VO website for years, it took me two more years to finally get a website up that I feel is both beautiful and highly functional! This was the single biggest obstacle that was preventing me from approaching more agents or larger clients. I now do it readily and with confidence.
4. What personal trait or professional tool has helped you succeed the most in your career so far?
There are several things I can point to, starting with my bilingualism and biculturalism, my naturally extroverted personality (it’s kind of hard to keep me quiet!) my entrepreneurial spirit, and my commitment to make a difference on this planet by creating or pursuing work that is meaningful every day. I am so happy that my parents insisted that I speak perfect English and Spanish! It is undoubtedly the single most important factor in driving sales in our voiceover business. Also, I have been an entrepreneur since the age of 25, once Brian and I co-founded our first Latin band. I am the company manager and lead singer. I never looked back.
Because I am a people person and love to communicate and connect with others, singing, voice acting, and marketing comes easily to me. That being said I’ve had to be tenacious and maintain my pledge to myself to never give up – even when there are the inevitable ups and downs. Choosing a creative life is never easy in our society, but I was always clear that it’s what I wanted; to run my own life and to express what I believe in. Having a career that inspired social change in some way was always one of my biggest life goals. When you do what you love you find boundless energy to get through most things in life. Through my music I managed to do that for the past 28 years, but I am thrilled to report that both Brian and I seem to attract clients for our voiceover work whose messages we can really get behind. For example, we still do a great deal of children’s eLearning for clients like Houghton Mifflin, Scholastic, National Geographic School Publishing which we really enjoy, along with documentaries for public television. I also voice health tips for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that are broadcast to 1,000 radio stations and are included in an online podcast, as well as in supermarkets nationwide, in both Spanish and English. We feel grateful that our voices can be heard advocating creating better health and awareness. It is an honor to do so.
5. In your development as a voice over performer, who has been the one particular individual or what has been the one piece of performance advice (maybe a key performance trick, etc.) that you felt has had the most impact on your actual voice over performance and why?
There really hasn’t been one particular person, but I have to say that the one event that has changed my voiceover career and helped me learn and grow immensely as a voice actor and a VO business woman was attending Faffcon 2, created by the fabulous VO actor Amy Snively, its creator. This voiceover gathering known as an “unconference” is a forum for voice actors far and wide to come together to learn resources about our trade, but most importantly to share these resources and tips and help one another. There I attended a great performance workshop by the fabulous VO actor and coach Randye Kaye which influenced me a great deal. More recently I attended a fantastic performance workshop by Elaine Clark in NYC and I am applying her many tricks for improving my reads quite a bit. Most importantly, she taught me that using my whole body much more is very effective in delivering better reads.