5 Questions for a Professional Voice-Over Talent – Melanie Haynes

Today’s 5 Questions for a Professional Voice Over Talent are answered by Melanie Haynes, a professional voice over talent based in Houston, Texas.

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 actually started out acting and dancing which eventually evolved into voice-over. My first performances of any kind were standing on the kitchen table, at the age of 2, reciting nursery rhymes to a captive audience! I was always performing all through school in any way possible – plays, piano, band, debate, drama competitions, twirling, cheer-leading, and trying to get laughs by imitating voices I heard in Film, TV, and Radio as well as real life, which got me into trouble more than once. The first time I was “on mic” was when my high school drama coach in my tiny Kansas hometown had me narrate a live program. I received a lot of encouraging comments on my voice, but I still had no idea about doing voice over as a career. In Houston, I had several jobs after college as a receptionist and had been hired because of my “good phone voice”. I started pursuing my acting career professionally in 1980 and decided to go after voice over work because I’d always been told I had a good voice, and it sounded like fun and a good way to expand my marketability as a performer so that I wouldn’t have to have a “real” job. Sound familiar?

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

So much of casting, direction, and even engineering is just a matter of personal preference. It’s not simply a matter of good vs bad or right vs wrong.

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?

I think the biggest obstacle I face may be my “feeling” that location (not being in LA or NY) and my “voice age” determine whether I’ll be able to snag more national work. Having my own studio for the past 10 years has helped to overcome a lot of that. I’m working with some great studios and agents all over the country (and the world), and I’m finding that although there’s a lot of call for “the hip/young” sound, there’s still a need for my deeper, more mature sound (and my characters, too).

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

Persistence! Tenacity! My Taurus stubbornness!

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?

The one piece of advice that helps me the most and which is sometimes the hardest to achieve is to remember that “Less is More”. Every good acting and voice over coach I’ve worked with, read, or heard of seems to address this in one way or another, although the terminology may vary. I think the best way for me to get there is to keep “honesty” in mind.

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