5 Questions for a Professional Voice-Over Talent – Donna Postel

Today’s 5 Questions for a Professional Voice Over Talent are answered by Donna Postel, a professional voice-over talent based in St Louis, MO.

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?

I had just dropped out of college — actually, I told myself I was transferring to a school more in line with my goal of being an international star of stage and screen, but the truth was that I didn’t really know what I wanted to do when I grew up. One day a friend asked me to go with him to check out the Broadcast Center, a trade school in St Louis that promised to make its students into the world’s best deejays and news talkers. Fearing a scam, and knowing my friend was incredibly gullible, I accompanied him to save him from ruin.

As we sat there and listened to the owner and some the teachers talk about the program, a lightbulb lit up for me — this is something I can do, and do very very well. I signed up for the course (my friend did not).

One night, the owner’s son, a hot-shot big-time voiceover talent in New York, did a mini master class for us. He spoke a bit, answered some questions, and — lightbulb #2. From that night on, I knew I wanted to be a voice talent too.

The first job offer I accepted in radio was a position as production manager — I was going to be the copywriter, producer, and commercial/promo voice for KFRU in Columbia MO. Another radio job brought me back to the St Louis area, and I spent the next few years as a drive time personality, news reporter, interviewer and whatever else the stations needed.

I still loved theatre, and found the time to do a couple of plays a year as well. A fellow actor in the St Louis company I played with was creative director of a local ad agency, and as soon as I left radio (within days actually) an agent called me with a booking for one of that dear man’s clients, a department store.

Since that day 30 years ago (where did the time go?) I have sometimes given more energy to being a mom than running a voiceover business. There were a couple of years when I was lured back into radio, but commercials and corporate narration and on-camera spokesperson work was always there for me, and I have been extremely fortunate to have been able to support my family while being home when my kids got home from school.

This year I’ve finally been able to launch my audiobook career, and I can’t get over how much I love it.

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

I wish I’d actually listened to all the wonderful advice I was getting from so many generous people, but was too busy trying to appear like I already had all the answers to accept.

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?

When your business is your voice, your factory will always have an inventory of exactly ONE. My deeply ingrained DIY mindset has kept me from seeking the assistance that would help me serve more clients. I really need to start using outside editors more (but at the same time I really enjoy editing)!

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

Curiosity. I LOVE learning new things, and every project has opened my eyes to something.
Commitment. In performance, I am totally committed to the moment – the emotion – in the text.
Availability. I’m always available to do whatever it takes to make my client’s life easier.
I show up! My tools are ready to go (i.e., my voice is warmed up and ready).
And apparently I have a really reliable internal timecode – I can adjust my read by the frame, if that’s what’s needed.

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?

Oscar Wilde said it. “Be yourself – everybody else is taken.”

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