5 Questions for a Professional Voice-Over Talent – Gabrielle Nistico

Today’s 5 Questions for a Professional Voice Over Talent are answered by Gabrielle Nistico, a professional voice-over talent based in Charlotte NC.

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?

It started in 1994. I was a kid working as an intern in a radio station on Long Island. Of all things I wanted to be in sales! We did something called “Call-Out Research” and all the interns did shifts calling local household at random and playing them song hooks in order to gather music research for the station. The PD like my voice and asked me to start doing some commercials. A few months later he asked me for an air-check and before I knew it I was hooked on the performance aspects of the industry. In 2000 there was a short commercial strike with SAG / AFTRA. Being a stone’s throw from NYC I started to get auditions for some pretty big names while that was going on. I didn’t really know or understand (at the time) what it all meant but I started to see rates of pay that were FAR beyond anything I was earning in radio. After that I became aggressive about leaving radio and making VO my full-time effort.

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

I guess I wish I’d had a VO business advisor. Someone to help me better understand marketing, sales and negotiations. That’s why I’m so passionate about those efforts today. I took a lot of things for granted early-on because I didn’t know. I see many talent make those same mistakes now and they have loads of help available. I got screwed big time on a few jobs where I agreed to a buy-out. Coming from radio I thought “hey it’s just a tag, how long could they use it for?” Up until a few years ago I’d go back to the NY metro area and hear myself on spots for a bedding company. The tag they used was recording over 10 years before!

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?

Time. There’s never enough of it. There’s lots that I want to accomplish each week / month and not enough hours in each day. I’m learning to trust others more, hire help and delegate responsibilities where I can even to friends and family if they are willing to assist.

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

Whenever possible I subscribe to the “speak little, listen much” philosophy. I watch, glean, lurk, and soak up as much as I can from those I respect in the industry and I immediately apply their knowledge to whatever I’m doing. Ego will kill a voiceover career so I’m always trying to keep that nasty wench away. We stop learning and stop growing if we fail to listen and think we know everything and believe we have nothing to learn. I like to kick my own butt. So instead of a daily devotional – I will occasionally look myself in the mirror and say “you suck, now what are you doing to do to get better?”

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?

Physically play the role and your voice will follow. I’ve heard countless people say it but I think Bob Bergen explains it the best. In most cases the performances is not about how you sound but about how well you are playing the part. Make VO a whole body experience and everything about your career will change.

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