5 Questions for a Professional Voice Over Talent – Bobbin Beam

Today’s 5 Questions for a Professional Voice Over Talent are answered by Bobbin Beam, a professional voice-over talent based in Escondido, CA.

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) and then when did your passion for voiceover develop into something professional?

My VO career began in an evolutionary way. I can’t remember when I wasn’t a performer of some kind. My sisters and I used to put on “shows” for our parents, singing harmony of holiday songs or the latest pop hits. Later on I formed a drama troupe at age 8 with my friends and we’d put on plays in our barn for the neighbors. My father had a large reel to reel tape recorder. I would watch how he used it. I then took over possession and wore out reel upon reel of his Scotch Brand Magnetic tape. I got hooked on playback! In high school I was in all the plays and was planning to be a theater major in college. In the fall of senior year I narrated an excerpt from Richard Brautigan’s, “Trout Fishing in America” for a class project and my English teacher told me I should consider going into communications. Before graduation, I landed my first job in radio at a progressive rock station. It was a complete novelty to have a female voice on the air at the time. It was a 180-degree alternative to top 40 where music actually mattered. Radio became a passion for quite a few years as I learned how to literally run a radio station by wearing the many hats within and working up the ranks. Then one day I was collecting unemployment. It was 1982. That was when I became an entrepreneur and started working as a voiceover actor while operating my own ad agency. I sold, wrote, produced , voiced, hired talent and purchased air time for my clients. It was a good way into voiceover. I loved voice-over more and more and landed my agents and worked in Milwaukee & Chicago and then moved to Southern California late in 1984 to be physically closer to my big sister and LA. To this day I am thankful during the years I worked in radio I never had to deliver the now dreaded “announcer read”.

2. What is the one thing you know now that you wish someone had told you when you first started out in voiceover?

That it takes guts and a thick skin, that the work ebbs and it flows. And you need to save your money when you’re making it, for those “famine days” that WILL occur. Another thing is to never play small, and listen to your own voice amidst the noise out there. I’m quite the contrarian sometimes. But I’ve become comfortable with the uncomfortable. It elevates my “Vision” and my art to not follow the crowd.

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?

Clearly the biggest professional and personal obstacle can be what I call, “Stinkin’ thinkin'” I’m an optimist at heart, and I cannot take the selection process personally. It CAN get to me sometimes. And I’ll cry about it, doubting myself. That always seems to occur before a new creative breakthrough that lifts me and the work to a whole new level. When I go through dry periods , I remember my focus, and read, learn, take more coaching, and stop trying to compare myself to others who appear more successful. And when the mic is off, the marketing hat must go on. I really try to avoid time-wasters. I must do the most productive thing possible at any one time.

4. What personal trait or professional tool has helped you succeed the most in your career so far?

Love. I always choose coming from a place of love and hope. I choose to be impressed rather than to impress. That’s why I love to learn. There is so much that I don’t know.

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?

I’ve had so many fantastic friends, coaches and mentors to help me work through the nuts and bolts of the work, and my success so far is in large part a culmination of all the things I’ve learned from them. But the one person in my life who impacted my career was my mother. She was always my biggest fan, and she had the most beautiful voice. But she loved listening to me, and would correct me if I didn’t enunciate clearly or when I said something grammatically incorrect. She believed in me and taught me how to believe in myself.

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