the voiceover agent series: how I partnered with All Coast Talent in Buffalo, NY

Voice Talent Peter K. O'Connell All Coast Talent 19Editor’s note: Often times I get asked by both new and experienced voiceover talent “how do you get a voiceover agent?” Or “how did you get signed with a specific voice talent agency?” It occurred to me recently that there are some interesting and fun stories about how I have partnered with my voiceover agents. Everybody likes a good story so I thought I would share a few of them in something I’ve entitled “the voiceover agent series”.

For as long as I lived in Buffalo, NY, for a long while I wasn’t really part of the voiceover scene. I would occassionally do some local spots but I was mostly doing stuff elsewhere. Buffalo also suffers (current tense because it hasn’t stopped) from that fairly common media/advertising producer’s attitude prevalent around the country that ‘if you’re from here, you can’t be any good’.

But Buffalo did have a smaller voiceover community – outside of the radio people often called upon to do spots (and some of those radio people were/are amazing voice talents).

I think the real boom of voice talents in Western New York took off, however, when Toni Silveri and her family came back to Buffalo from LA.

Toni was a Smurf.

That’s right, she was one of the original voice talents on the NBC Saturday morning Smurfs. Of course she did other stuff as well while in LA. A long time singer and actress, she has been performing across the U.S. But Buffalo was home and so she returned when she had had enough of LA.

However, Toni brought back with her a new perspective — in addition to her new Hollywood contacts and friends. Many things made an impression on Toni while in LA. One big thing, I think anyway, was attending the voiceover classes held over at Daws Butler’s house.

Daws was to Hanna-Barbera animation what Mel Blanc was to Warner Bros. animation. In other words…holy cow talented. To say Daws was only a character voice actor would be unfair…but he WAS an uncommonly talented character voice actor. He used to host VO workshops at his house for working LA voice actors and Toni often attended them…with Daws soon becoming a Silveri family friend.

Toni Silveri All Coast Talent / WNY Voice Actors Workshop

I say this made a big impression because when Toni came back from LA, SHE started hosting these same kinds of workshops in her home. The Western New York Voice Actors Workshop was born.

My inculcation within the Workshop was not immediate. I knew of it but didn’t get involved until one weekend when Toni hosted among the first of her many Pat Fraley workshops at her house (and then later at local recording studios). Pat is a well known and beloved voice actor in his own right but also, in my opinion,  Pat is one of the best straight out teachers of voiceover – especially character voice – in the world. His handouts alone are worth the price of admission because he is so well thought out in his presentation, so organized and so engaging. Oh, and Pat was also a Smurf which I believe is where he really got to know Toni.

So I show up at this Fraley workshop in Toni’s backyard, fairly unknown to these folks. Pat of course is amazing. I guess I made a good impression with my work there because Toni pulls me aside and says “I’m starting up a voiceover agency and I would like to represent you.”

This was not a blanket offer to all workshop participants.

I couldn’t see how it would hurt as up to that point and even today, there isn’t another VO agent in Buffalo.

But she quickly went from local to national and hasn’t stopped. She’s the real deal. All Coast Talent was born and I’ve been there since the beginning.

It was a unique position for this local boy when my voiceover friends from around the country would call me and ask about this voiceover agent in Buffalo. ‘Buffalo, really?’ they would say. ‘Oh yes really,’ I would answer.

‘Can you help get me on her roster?’ I would just smile.

Proving yet again, it’s NOT the address that matters, it’s all about the person who lives there.

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