A VO’s Journey
An actress, mom, business owner, turned voice actress, Jessica Taylor has been the voice for IBM, Adidas, Mayo Clinic, Takeda, Universal, and much more.
Miles Chicoine, the CEO of Voquent, ask Jessica a whole bunch of questions about her journey and working with multiple agents to book her work, along with branding and her advice for newcomers as well.
Jessica is a real class act and we are so thankful that she took the time to be on our show.
Intro: Hello and welcome to A VO’s Journey. My name is Anthony Pica and this podcast is all about helping the new and upcoming voiceover artiste grow their business and sidestep all the crazy things that I seem to step on. Today’s episode is very exciting. We are on number 121, and we are going to be interviewing today acclaimed voice actress, Jessica Taylor. She has worked with all sorts of companies, from IBM, to Nature Made, to Universal, all sorts of places. What I find really cool is that she has actually only been doing this for a couple of years as well. I’m very excited to be joined by Miles Chicoine from Voquent as always. So without further ado, let’s do it.
So we are so excited to be here. We have an incredible guest. Her name is Jessica Taylor. She is an actress turned voice actress who is doing some amazing things. I was on her site and I am blown away by just in a short amount of time – I won’t give too much away because I’ll let her talk about it. But the work that she has done and the businesses that she has worked with is really amazing and inspiring. I am joined with my co-host and wild man across the pond, Miles Chicoine.
Miles: Hey, how you doing?
Anthony: Always a man of many words. Thank you, Miles. I would like to say hello and thank you to Jessica for joining us on A VO’s Journey. Hello, Jessica.
Jessica: Hi. Thank you so much.
Anthony: Absolutely. Well, I guess we start off always asking everybody, kind of give us a background of where you come from, who you are, and what you’re doing in this voiceover world.
Jessica: Okay. Well, thanks for having me. This is pretty exciting. My first podcast appearance.
Anthony: You’re famous now.
Jessica: I know.
Miles: First of many.
Jessica: Gosh, that’s great. So yeah, I guess I feel like I’ve had – I’m like a cat. I’ve had nine lives. I’ve done a lot of different things. I grew up in Minnesota and in high school I did just loads and loads of theater. I never even took chemistry because I read the book… Everyone’s like, “Why aren’t you taking chemistry?” I said, “Well, I read the book and it says I don’t have to. So I’m going to take band, theater and choir. Yeah, I don’t need chemistry.” So I did lots and lots of theater and then I was going to go to college for musical theater. I was accepted to a good handful of prestigious programs but at the time, my family wasn’t in a position to send me to those really expensive schools.
I was like, “Well, it doesn’t mean I can’t act.” So I still ended up getting involved in theater. I came to Colorado then I got an agent and I did a fair amount of corporate work, mostly stage work; everything from Shakespeare to musicals and I loved it. I really loved it. I was going to move to New York City and more fully pursue that whole dream, but then September 11th happened in 2001 and it really just changed everything about what I wanted in life. It made me really think deeply about what was important. I think what I decided at that time was it was important for me to have a family. So I put these feelers out to see if there was anyone out there for me and I met somebody like a week after that. Had our first date one week after September 11th. We ended up getting married and having three kids. So there was a reason for me to stay in Colorado, and that was it.
I stepped away from theater at that point, and I also have always had a very strong entrepreneurial drive, you could say. Always looking, “Well, how can I monetize that? How can I make money with that?” It’s like this great challenge, this business challenge. So at that point I ended up opening a spa. I had gone through massage therapy training to support my acting habit because I insisted I would never wait a table. I worked on lots of famous people. Bernie Mac, if you know him, I worked on him in his hotel room. I was like an on-call for comedians and for NFL players. So I had a really thriving massage practice and I ended up hiring massage therapists and opening a spa. I taught one of Willie Nelson’s daughters how to give massage with her feet which is another random fact about me.
Anthony: Now that’s what I’m talking about.
Jessica: Yeah. I ran this massage spa for 10 years. What I learned is that I loved the business. I loved having a business; strongly loved it. I ended up closing it because I had my first son, and that was in 2008 when the market crashed. Massage was basically the first thing for people to be like, “I don’t think I need a massage this week.” So I took that as a sign of like, “All right, I’m going to stay home with my kids and close this business down,” which is what I did. I stayed home for 10 years with my kids, basically. We moved overseas during that time. We lived in Prague for three and a half years and then we came back to Colorado three years ago.
I saw my youngest getting ready to go to kindergarten and I thought, “Okay, it’s time for me to pursue something that I’m really excited about” and I had criteria. I was like, “It got to be creative. It needs to have something to do with acting. It has to be entrepreneurial,” because that was just another fire that I had to feed. “It had to be incredibly flexible;” that was my third criteria. I had one more. I had to be able to make good money in a short amount of time because I have limited time. It’s kind of a tall order. I guess I don’t make too many compromises, you could say. I would say I stewed on this problem for a good year and a half. Like, “What is it? What is it?” Then my mom met a woman through her boyfriend and she’s like, “She’s an audiobook narrator. Do you want to meet her?” I was like, “I think I do.”
So I was in Minnesota with her and I went and spent a few hours seeing what the voiceover lifestyle was all about. I was really blown away at how it nailed all of these things for me. I left two hours later and I was like, “That’s it. That’s what I’m doing.” The choice was just made. That day I immediately started pursuing what I could. I remembered that I had a massage client of the spa for many years and she was a top voiceover artist in Denver. I had mentioned to her several times when I was her therapist that I was interested in that. It was something in the back of my mind. She goes, “Well, you need to let me know.” And I said, “You know what? When my kids are a little older, I’m going to let you know.” So I sent her a message and emails like, “I haven’t talked to you in like eight years, but I think I need to do voiceover.” And she said, “So funny, you should send me an email because I just let go of my position of being a voiceover agent at GoVoices.” I was like, “Wow, okay. Well that is very serendipitous.”
She just had decided that the agent lifestyle wasn’t for her. It was too much. Nine to five; so it was a very amicable separation. I said, “Do you want to coach me?” She said, “Yep, I want to coach you.” And I said, “Great.” So I took a few classes at the Denver Center with groups of people which was really valuable to hear other people read at the same time that I was reading. To have that class experience instead of just one-on-one with a coach, I think that was a good way to start. So then I coached with Tia for maybe six weeks and finally she was just like, “Okay, you can record a demo.” So she and I picked copy and then we went to my local studio here, recorded my commercial demo, and recorded a narration demo. Then the next week I submitted it to GoVoices, they had me do a callback, and they signed me. It’s just like when I say this waterfall thing; everything just really happened for me. I took that as a sign that I had chosen the right thing. It felt very affirming.
Then about six weeks after I signed with them, I booked my first big job. It was a really big job for Nature Made and I was the voice of all of their pre-roll. So they had a whole pre-roll campaign. So that whole thing about making a lot of money in a short amount of time, I fully fulfilled that. My husband has a big career, I should say. He’s an IT professional working for a big company. So one day I said to him, “I need you to watch the kids tomorrow because I have to go record.” He’s like, “Well, I’ve got this meeting and this meeting” and all these years I had been the mom at home. So now the roles had really reversed. I told him how much. I was like, “Well, this is how much I’m going to make tomorrow” and he was like, “Ok, I’ll figure it out” and that was it. He was like, “Okay, wow. I thought this was going to be a little hobby for you.” I was like, “I guess it’s not. It’s going to be a real thing.” So that was a fun day. We celebrated.
It has just been things like that. I’ve just been working. I audition, I’m coaching, working on new demos, working on my brand. I think in some ways they say, “Give a busy person something that needs to get done.” I think because I’m busy, if I have 15 minutes, I’m just super focused on the one thing that I need to do right now and I think that actually helps. I hope I kept that short.
Miles: You’ve got an amazing story. I’m just thinking that the fact that you got signed so quickly is obviously tremendous. That’s something that a lot of voice actors all around the world aspire to achieve. I know it’s different depending on the country. There are some countries that have really big prolific networks of agents and agencies, and then there are other countries where there’s really only a few. So if you’re going to get into the voice acting game, there’s a good chance you’re going to be doing it completely on your own. But you just got stuck straight in with an agent which is amazing. That’s obviously, I would say quite a blessing in many ways because there are people who will work five to 10 years and they’re still looking and still hoping for the big break where an agent is going to recognize them and pick them up and take them under their wing and start bringing more food to the table, so to speak, to work on.
Jessica: Yeah, absolutely. I fully acknowledged that I was just lucky to have had that contact with Tia and already have that great kind of mentorship with her. It was just lucky that she had just left. I know she put a good word in for me because she and I had been coaching together. I think that’s one of the lessons that I’ve learned so far and I would say I’m learning that… I’ve continued to see this pattern that the places that you invest your time and money, I think they need to be places where you can get that back. So for example, maybe producing demos with a place that because you’ve worked with them and if they enjoyed working with you, you will then get work from them. So being really strategic about those decisions and how you’re spending your money and hoping that it’s going to come back to you.
Anthony: Awesome. I love that story. That is so cool. What’s really interesting is I think there’s – I’d love to talk to you about this. I know we have questions. But there’s an interesting divide I feel with voice actors, especially with more and more new voice actors coming into the industry with many of them, “Should I search for agents or should I go in on my own? Do I become a union member or not become a union member?” So I was wondering from where you are right now, are you a part of the union or are you a non-union?
Jessica: No, I’m non-union.
Anthony: Okay, great.
Jessica: I’m happy where I am right now.
Jessica: I’ve got more to learn right here, I think.
Anthony: Absolutely. That’s fine. Then from question too, would you say that you book the majority of your work through your agent? Or do you find a lot of work on your own?
Jessica: I do both actually. I have about six agents now. In trying to keep with my goal of making good money in a short amount of time or I like to say full-time income on part-time hours, I really try to focus on quality auditions. My strategy with getting a good number of agents is that I want good auditions coming to me. I don’t have time to chase jobs on pay-to-plays and audition 15, 20 times a day. I don’t have time for that. So for me, I’m focusing on – My strategy has been to coach so that I’m really skillful when I am auditioning and I’m not wasting those great agent audition opportunities. But I am also marketing on my own, making my own contacts, and I have a good handful of clients who come to me directly as well.
Miles: I was going to say you can actually maybe dispel to a degree at least a myth, Jessica, which is that if I get an agent – I say hypothetically, obviously. But if I get an agent, I don’t have to market myself anymore. I just let the agent go take care of it because that’s what the agent’s job is; it is to market me. Maybe it’d be fair to say that’s a misconception. But there’s a lot of people who have aspirations to get hired by an agent because they think that means that they can spend all their time focusing on their performance and focusing on the creative aspect of doing what they do and not having to look for work and look for new opportunities and build their own brand independently because they think that that’s what the agent is doing and that’s how they’re earning their cut, so to speak. What’s your take on that?
Jessica: Well, if you go to any agent’s website, you’re going to see loads and loads of talent. So I don’t think it’s possible for any single agent to wake up and say, “I’m going to service all of these talent today.” If I look at the whole picture of a full-time career doing this, there’s going to be a pie chart and I’m going to focus this amount of effort here and this effort here and hopefully with every decision, I’m honing in on a strategy that brings me a return on my investment in time and money. So I think building the relationship with my agents is definitely part of that strategy. Wanting a good working relationship I think that that’s reciprocal and that will come back to you. But yeah, I definitely wouldn’t be comfortable in my mind saying, “Yes, here. You be in charge of my career.” Nobody’s going to do that work like I will.
Anthony: Absolutely. So where are you finding these places or other work besides things that are coming from your agents? Where do you search for work?
Jessica: When I got started right away, I signed up with Voice123 and Voice123 was great for me for a while. Then when they changed the platform, it just strangely – I don’t understand really why. I’m the same person. I was submitting the same auditions. If anything, I was only improving my skills. It just didn’t make sense to me. So I let go of that. That experience was actually a great blessing. I think I was relying on that because there were so many audition opportunities and it feels like you’re accomplishing something when you’re auditioning. You can keep really busy, like feeling really busy with that platform. So when I let that go I was like, “Okay, this is great because it’s forcing me to figure out what’s going to bring me work without using a pay-to-play.”
I was with VOPlanet for a year. I booked one job off of that which from what I’ve heard is actually kind of a miracle. I think there are just so many incredible talent on that site. You have to get in on the auditions right away and that’s not really how my life works. I like the auditions from agents because you tend to have a slightly longer timeframe. You might get 36, even 48 hours so that works well for me. You asked me where I’m getting the work so let me focus in here. Bodalgo is a great source for me. One of my coaches says I have a good American sound that doesn’t have any of the things that people overseas dislike about an American accent.
Anthony: I really like that you said that because I think that happens a lot. I get a lot of work from overseas, actually. 60 to 70% of my work comes from overseas. But that’s a very interesting thing about what – Did your agent or the person who’s talking to you tell you some of those things that people from overseas don’t like? Or maybe Miles knows. Tell us a little.
Jessica: Yeah. Maybe Miles knows.
Miles: Well, I think everybody is obviously seeking feedback. You can never get as much feedback as you would like to get. When we ask customers, “Did you like that recording? Why did you pick them?” It’s so difficult to get answers. It’s one of the most frustrating things is. Obviously there’s a lot of people who whether they’re auditioning or shortlisted or considered or whatever, as part of a group of options. People would like to know, “What can I improve? What didn’t work and what did work? Why did people pick me?” It’s actually really, really hard to get that feedback; it’s incredibly hard. It’s actually something that we’re going to be addressing very soon on Voquent and we’re going to enable peers to actually provide feedback to each other.
I think that in some ways is more valuable because it might be a little bit more raw, but at least it’ll be from somebody who actually knows what they’re listening for. The unfortunate reality is a lot of work gets done where the person who is commissioning the work don’t really know what they’re doing. They’re putting irons in fires and they’re just doing everything they can. They’re just throwing mud in to see what sticks and that’s going up the chain to somebody else who is making a decision. So many people who are involved in the process of commissioning work are actually so far removed from the selection process and actually understanding what they’re looking for and why. We had one today. Somebody asked and said, “We need a Gaelic accent.”
Anthony: Yeah, I saw you post it on social media.
Miles: But we had to spread out the options because we weren’t actually sure because the client wasn’t sure whether it was actually Scottish Gaelic or Irish Gaelic and there’s a big difference. It gets confusing as well because believe it or not, Scottish Gaelic – pronounced ‘gal-ick’ – is actually what’s called Gaelic. But both variations actually come from Irish Gaelic and Irish Gaelic is actually referred to as Irish, even though everybody speaks English mostly in Ireland. So it’s easy to get confused. But yeah, I think long story short is we can never get enough feedback. But when we do get it, it’s something that we do try to pass on and we do try to say, “Hey, by the way, this is what we learned and this is why they really liked you.” The problem is even when you do get feedback, it’s usually like, “Oh, they were just great.”
Jessica: Can I add something to that? I recently posted in a voiceover group about what I’ve since coined my “home sound advantage” because I started noticing that I was booking a lot of work for Midwestern companies. I wouldn’t say most people would say, “Oh, you are so obviously from the Midwest.” But I think that it’s almost like a subliminal message. It’s still there.
Miles: Yeah, you never shake it really.
Jessica: I mean, you have to speak somehow so you’re going to sound like where you’re from in some way but it’s not so much that it’s distracting. But I think it’s like the home sound advantage and I keep booking things through that are in the Midwest easily. I’m not auditioning which that’s a dream come true. So that was one thing I was suggesting other voice talent may want to look at. Like, where do you come from and approach production companies in that part of the country or that part of the world where you might have that automatic sound.
Miles: Yeah. Well, what you’re picking up on there, Jessica, is I think absolutely so important. The authenticity of an accent is what more and more people are looking for. This is something that is not like a recurring theme. This is absolutely what people want. It actually forms the entire basis of how I ended up being part of what created Voquent. It was looking for authenticity, and authenticity at a detailed level is so viable. It was so funny because when we started tracking all these different accents, people would say, “Do people really want that accent? Really? I thought they wanted standard, modern, general, you know? They want that kind of all-rounder.” And I said, “No. People do want that. Of course, yes. If you can do that, you can perform what could only be classified, I guess as modern and standard American.” And that’s going to sound like a lot of different things. Just like British RP will sound like a lot of different accents, but it’s kind of a home county’s accent.
Your actual accent, your conversational accent, your accent that you formed when you were probably about 13 or 14, and it’s just kind of stuck with you and no matter where you live, that always sits in the background; that’s your roots. That’s actually the most valuable accent you got because it’s actually the one that’s completely authentic and there’s people who want to draw on that. They want to communicate to an audience that’s either there that also speaks that way, or wants to communicate with an audience that feels that voice speaking in that way to them. So they feel that they’re being communicated to by someone with that background.
It’s amazing how many people say, “Don’t give me whatever accent. They have to actually be speaking that way. I don’t want somebody who says they can do a great imitation accent.” There’s still a market for imitation accents, don’t get me wrong. Some people are incredibly talented at sounding extremely authentic. You would never know what country or part of the world they’re from. They can do all these things. They’re incredibly talented. But I have to be honest, every time when it comes down to the person who can speak in 10 or 15 different accents against this person who really can only speak in two which is their kind of articulate posture version, and then their native one of where they’re more grassroots accent, that’s it. That’s what people are going to go for every time. So it’s really interesting to hear you say that.
Jessica: Yeah. I think maybe that’s part of what this – When people say, “They were just great.” It’s almost like something that they may not even know why they were drawn to that particular voice because it is that – It’s like, I don’t know. They just sound right.
Anthony: I agree. And the connection, that’s what this whole thing is about. Is we’re trying to connect with people and I think we are all led by that connection. I want to keep us going here. This has been great so far. I do want to move on to some things; also some practical things. I know I do this and I’m going to ask you like I do everybody else. I want to talk quickly about your opinions and your thoughts on rates in our industry right now and all the things that are happening and what are you seeing happening. So I think one of the questions we had is approaching rates. Should you approach rates differently when dealing with non-exclusive agencies or production companies? I guess the question on this is, compared to when you were on Voice123 and your stuff on Bodalgo to where you’re working with agents and stuff, where are you seeing those rates right now? What do you think about the kind of – I don’t know if you’d say battle of rates going on in our industry, but just rates in general? Your thoughts of rates.
Jessica: I think that is probably an area I’m still working out for myself just because I haven’t been in this that long so I don’t have that long history to compare. I hear people who’ve been doing voiceover for 20 years and, “Oh, those were the good old days.” I’m like, “Well, I don’t know what the good old days were. These seem pretty good to me.”
Anthony: I have to tell you before you go on too. This is tricky because I know you hadn’t said you hadn’t listened to some of my podcasts so you have no idea how I feel about rates. So I know you’re probably like, “Well, what should I say?” All I have to tell you is say whatever you feel and that should tell you about me. So I like that if you’re still working it out too.
Jessica: Yeah, I’m still working it out. I mean, as far as whether we should negotiate on rates more if we’re working for production companies; just from as a business person, yes, I think so. I meant to say this in the last question. I would say my biggest source of work right now is directly from rosters that I’m on and that has been fantastic. They have set rates and those rates are probably less than I would charge if I were charging the client directly. But to me, just business-wise that makes sense. They’re coming to me directly with business on a regular basis that mostly I am not auditioning for. So, yes, to me that makes sense. It’s okay for me to accept less money than emailing 25 times back and forth with a client trying to work out, negotiate what we’re going to come to. That takes time; that takes effort. I prefer the direct route, so I’m okay to take a little bit less.
Anthony: That’s awesome. Great question. We have a lot of the new people who listen to this podcast as well and there’s so much noise out there always about like you said, people saying it should be charged this and things should be charged like that and if you charge this, it’s wrong. But I love how you mentioned a business because we are in a business and that is reality. I know from Miles you have always a different perspective because you’re on the other side of a business that actually manages the in-between between companies and actors. So I don’t know if you want to chime in on this.
Miles: Yeah, I’d be happy to prod the hornet’s nest a little bit and let some of the listeners out there get angry or whatever. I think the thing about rates is that there is no such thing as the right rate and there is no such thing as a fair rate actually, because a fair rate implies that life is fair and that all things are equal and that people are equally talented or equally experienced or should have equal opportunity. We don’t live in that world. We live in actually a very competitive world where it’s more competitive than ever because people can be located anywhere and working from anywhere offering their accent and their capabilities and their sounds to the rest of the world at whatever price they like; whatever they feel like.
So there are sites out there that of course had – Their key value proposition has been ‘get it cheap.’ “If you want a cheap voiceover, come here. We’ll get you your best possible value for money.” So their focus is on giving the customer whatever they’re looking for at the lowest possible price and obviously trying to get the best possible quality at that price. Then of course, there are other agencies and organizations and intermediaries of all kinds who might price themselves up and say, “Well, when you go with us you’re getting more curated voices, you’re getting more experience, you’re getting more talented.” So all the rates are moving around all the time. But I think the thing is, is that… You’ve actually said something really important as far as I’m concerned, Jessica, which is that you’ve differentiated between what you would charge to a non-exclusive agency or a production company with a roster as you would direct.
There’s some people who have a school of thought that says, “Let’s just keep it flat all the way no matter what and that will help maintain better rates worldwide.” If everybody just keeps it flat and says, “No,” because nobody knows who the client is. We’re in this crazy place now where you don’t know if you’re dealing with someone when somebody says, “Hey, I’ve got you shortlisted for an opportunity here. What do you think?” You might know at the end, of course, but you don’t know at the initial point of inquiry whether you’re talking to the client, or somebody who’s talking to the client, or somebody who’s talking to somebody else who’s talking to the client. Or maybe even more chains, more mouths to feed all the way up. I think that’s where it becomes difficult because you think, “Well, if all I’m doing is lowering my rate for people who are all taking a cut, then really we’re all driving the rates down.” Then the customers at the end who were prepared to pay more start thinking, “Well, if I can just remove a few of those middlemen, I can probably get this done even cheaper.” Thus the whole thing starts to become a global race to the bottom.
So I think rates is definitely an issue in terms of pricing and how to price it at. But I think being aware of who you’re dealing with and understanding what competition you’re up against and what the circumstances are and having a rate that works for you is everything. If you’ve got a rate that says, “You know what? I like that. I could feel comfortable with that. I don’t need more than that,” then fantastic. I think it’s about supply and demand. If you’re in a situation where you’ve got so much work, why would you need to price yourself out of an opportunity? If you need it, then… But then if you don’t need it, why lower your rates and do people favors when you just don’t need to? You’re busy enough. So I think naturally, these things define themselves for people and that’s how they figure it out.
Jessica: Yeah, absolutely. I feel the same way. My whole thing is I don’t have a lot of time so I don’t need to be the bargain. I’m not the bargain.
Anthony: And that’s great. That’s just like the same with any business in the world. You have high end and you have low end and there’s nothing wrong with either. It’s who we are. I think that in itself speaks volumes. I really like that discussion. I always ask it because it’s a big thing.
Miles: I want to say something, Anthony. Sorry. When you say low end, I think it’s really, really important for anyone who’s listening to this. If you’re starting early and you don’t have a background in the acting experience, you don’t have an agent, you’re trying to get into the game, maybe you’re grinding away on P2P sites or something, just remember this. If you do low end over and over and over, you’re not going to stay low end. You’re going to get better and you’re going to build your demand more. That’s a fact. So you mustn’t look at low end as the end point. You got to look at that as a starting point. If you’re starting out, you got to start somewhere. The biggest mistake though that some of the people make is they think that they need to start at the middle end because they’ve been listening to people who are trying to protect their own rates who’ve been doing it a long time. They price themselves out of work because they’re not actually competitive enough given their skillset and their background and other people are going to get picked because they’re pricing themselves out of the market. That’s where the problem exists.
Anthony: I totally agree. Any industry, I mean in anywhere, you start at the bottom and you work your way up. I will say to people too – and I say this often. I love that you said that because I often say when I was – I’ve done theater my whole life too, Jessica. An adage in the theater I often say, “You don’t add an extra show until your other ones are sold out.” So the point is you’re not going to continue to raise your rates because one day you were bored or you do what you do when you’re so… That’s just the adage I live by. When you’re so busy, then you raise your rates because it’s supply and demand just like anything else. I do think that’s big and I do think that it’s also another thing to note that we are working with companies all over the world that might be freelancers or one person like us and they want a voiceover and we have to decide whether we want to do a voiceover for them or only for large companies too. I think that’s a huge thing. I do tons of work that I don’t know – I might deal with one or two people. But like you said, I don’t know sometimes how big the company they work for is or not. So I mean, that kind of goes to it. I want to ask you Jessica, just some kind of concrete advice. So if you are giving advice to a new voiceover artist coming into the market and trying to look at how to get their first job, what advice would you give them? I get that question a lot. I have a lot of people who always ask me, “Hey, I’m just starting out. How do I get my first job?”
Jessica: Well, I think first you have to ask, “Do you have any skills?” Hopefully if they’re starting from a base of having done some training and have something to offer. Then at that point… My very first job was through Voice123 and I felt like that was a great way – I know everyone has different opinions about this. But for me, it was a great way to get a little bit of feedback on the auditions because that’s how the system was initially. It’s a great way for me to be like, “Oh, they like that one. Oh, they didn’t” and to get a lot of experience seeing different scripts. I know some people say, “You shouldn’t use a pay-to-play to practice.” But for me, I think that we practice differently when there’s something at stake than if there isn’t – Than if I’m just in my booth reading. When there’s a job on the line, I think psychologically it’s a different process than when there isn’t. So I feel like a pay-to-play could be a good place for a person to get their first job and to get a base of experience.
Anthony: Great. Thank you so much. Miles, I’m just going to keep moving here so we can keep going. I love the questions. This is a good one. What would you say are the top three most common mistakes that you think less experienced voice actors make when approached with an opportunity? Or you could even say – I don’t know about the opportunity, but just common mistakes that less experienced voice actors make period in this business.
Miles: Or could make.
Jessica: That’s tough for me because I’m not really in a position to hear other… Okay, here’s one that I think I did make for a while, and that was a fear of losing out on the job because I bid too much. That happened to me yesterday. I still have like when they say, “We went with someone else.” Then I’m like, “Why was it? Was it because of…? Did I quote too much?” So that kind of anxiety about losing out on a job. But I think the greater perspective is that there really are so many voiceover jobs out there and that’s the thing that I’ve learned over time. Before, I had this mentality of scarcity. That there are five jobs and there are 8,000 people looking for them and that’s all there’s going to be today. So just having an attitude of abundance that more’s going to come to me, it’s going to be okay.
Anthony: I love that.
Miles: I got to ask a follow-up question to that, Jessica because I think that’s really interesting. When you’re hearing someone come to you and say, “Hey, I’ve got a job. This is what’s happening.” How easily do you feel you can get a sense of whether someone really just have come to you because they know that you’re capable of doing the job, or they’re listening to your material because they think you’re capable of doing the job. But really they’re working with a fixed price. It’s not a factor where if you basically say, “Oh no, I’m not going to do that for double the budget,” you will lose it because you know that it wasn’t about whether or not you were capable of doing the job. They knew that. It was just about whether you were willing to do the job for that price.
Whereas there are other jobs where people – It’s particularly when you’re being cast for a higher end job and there’s a lot more consideration going into it where the negotiation is really secondary to finding the right person. In many cases when somebody’s working with a better budget project, they’ll even pay over the odds to get the person they want. So it’s very, very rare that someone looking for the right voice is hunting around in the bargain bin for a deal because it’s the priorities. How easily do you feel that you’re able to determine the priority of your prospective client?
Jessica: That’s a big question. I don’t know that I am able to tell.
Anthony: I just want to chime in here on both of that. What’s so interesting about this discussion and about us doing this with a person who – Miles runs from a different perspective than we do. Miles is so interesting because so many of the questions you ask are amazing and wonderful. But it is so neat to listen to because I know from my perspective as a voice actor and as an actor, and probably Jessica’s as well, we don’t necessarily get to that point where we’re thinking of those things because we don’t hear that stuff. We do our auditions, we do our best to connect with the client, and they either hire us or don’t. We might get feedback, like you said. That’s really interesting, Miles.
Miles: We don’t take it personally because we’re in a situation where we know we’re probably one of many different organizations that have been reached out to, to find out if we can solve a problem which is to find…
Anthony: Are you talking about price? Trying to figure out exactly what…
Miles: So there’s a variety of different scenarios where client will say, “I’ve got a budget. This is the amount.” That might be enough for the average, it might be barely enough for a low end, or it might be plentiful and it’s going to gain all kinds of auditions and exciting opportunities as a result because there are so many people who are going to be interested in the work.
Miles: Then there’s other people who don’t know what it should be priced at, but they do have a cap in their head or they do go back and find out. So they’ll say, “I need to know how much this kind of job is going to cost.” Then you go, “Well, average, low end, high end. That’s it.” As soon as you go high end, almost all of them are like, “All right, we’ll go low end to average; average top line.” I’ve had TV commercial companies who do this constantly. They don’t just work with voice actors. They work with actors and they work with everybody; people who work in broadcasting. And every time it’s immediately like, “Oh yeah, the job is 450. 450 is as high as we’ll pay.” “No, no.” “Okay, 475.” And you’re like, “What are you doing? You’re nickel and diming me over 25 bucks? Is it going to make any difference?” No, it’s not. It’s all about who you want to pick. Once we know who you want to pick and maybe who you might also like to have out of this collection of potential options, that’s when we want to know where you’re at with them.
We don’t want to hear how much you’re prepared to pay for someone that you’re not sure you’re going to select yet. We wouldn’t go in a situation and say, “Let’s go out and ask a hundred voice actors if they’re available for a job and we don’t know what it’s going to pay, and find out what they all think it should pay. Then get their feedback on it.” That’s like a living hell for an agency. There’s no way they’re going to do that. So really you’re trying to feel people out for what they’re prepared to pay and how interested they are in the quality of what they’re looking for. Some people come back and say, “Look, this is how important the quality is. This is what the job is for. We know that’s an average rate. We’re not going to pay any more than the average so the budget is capped. That’s it. That’s what you got to work with. If you go more than that, we’re just going to go somewhere else.”
As soon as you hear that you go, “All right, okay.” So as soon as you’re working with this, you’re then talking to a bunch of other people and saying, “All right guys, this is where it’s at.” There are some voice actors who are fantastic to work with and they just go, “All right, okay. I can do that.” Or they say, “I can’t.” There’s nothing wrong with saying, “I can’t do it for that rate.” There’s absolutely nothing wrong. You just say, “No problem.” That’s it. “It’s okay. Thanks for letting me know. Moving on.”
Jessica: Yeah. It might be different one week versus the next.
Jessica: It might be a really busy week and then the next week they would’ve said, “Oh, I would do that this week because I don’t have anything else going on, so no problem.”
Miles: The worst bit though is when they say, “No, how dare you? How dare you insult me with that rate? How dare you?” Then you’re in a situation where, “Well, this is what the client’s…” “This is absolutely disgusting. Terrible. You should be ashamed of yourself even asking someone of my stature and my experience and my capability to perform at that level.” Sometimes when people are referring to this – I’m not talking about low paid jobs. Some of these jobs are actually very well paid in the eyes of – I’d say 80% of the market. But for them, it’s still not enough because they are at that level. There’s a lot of different emotions that are driving these things. So I think that sometimes people get emotional and they take things personal and that influences their ability to keep a nice solid momentum of work. I believe that the people who get the most work are the ones who are the easiest to work with. Being easy to work with isn’t about being cheap. It’s just about being a really good friendly communicator and being concise about what you can and can’t do as in when the opportunities come up.
Anthony: Absolutely. I think that’s a good point to piggyback to the last two questions or so because we got to wrap this up. But going back, Jessica because I wanted to ask you – and I think you said this. But when we asked you about the three most common mistakes, you listed one. But one thing you said and that I think is a common mistake, especially for new people, is you said one of the very first things you did was get coaching. You could talk about it too. But just quickly, I think coaching is another big mistake that many new people come in – What’s interesting is even famous actors, people who’ve been doing this their entire lives continue to get coaching. So I don’t know what you think, but I think that’s probably a big mistake people make is thinking they don’t need a coach or they want to skimp on that.
Jessica: Yeah. That blows me away that anybody thinks they don’t need coaching. You can’t take the skills from working on stage or working on camera and translate them to voiceover other than your creativity and your presence and kind of that X factor stuff. But I mean, there’s so much between different jobs that I’m tapping into different things I’ve learned whether I know it’s going to be on TV and there are images involved, whether it’s going to be on the radio. Then just the quality of various reads; coaching is just one of the most important things. One trend that I noticed when I decided, “Okay, I’m really going to focus on my agency auditions -” And I think I went 60 or 70 auditions without booking anything. I was counting obviously.
I was like, “What is going on here?” I had just landed this really big thing and then I was like, “Do I suck all of a sudden? What happened?” I guess I was expecting the gravy train to keep coming and it didn’t. So then I was like, “Alright, I need to get into coaching.” I started coaching with Nancy Wolfson about six months ago and she has totally rocked my world. She’s amazing, worth every bit of everything that I’ve given her which is a lot. But once I started doing that, I felt like I actually had so much more skill to offer every audition. I began booking more and booking the agent auditions because I had heard so many voice actors say, “Oh yeah, I have agents but I don’t really book anything through them.” I was just thinking, “Why do they say that? What does that mean?” I was like, “I don’t want it to be that way. I want to book the jobs through my agent. Those tend to be the best paying, the most enjoyable jobs.” So I was like, “That’s going to be my focus. I need to be at the level where I can book those jobs on a regular basis.” To do that, I needed more skills. So I had to pursue more coaching
Anthony: You know what I do love and I think it’s awesome to have you on this show, Jessica, for a variety of reasons. But one is that you and I both have started a couple years ago in this and we both have theater background but I don’t have any agents. I do this completely full-time booking work on my own. You are using agents wonderfully and making a lot from them. So I would say that’s probably the other mistake is thinking there’s only one way.
Jessica: Yeah, absolutely. There are so many different ways. It just depends on who you are, what your skills are, what your lifestyle is like. I would guess that you and I have probably different lifestyles. You probably have a lot of time. I have like compressed bursts of time that I can use to do voiceover with. So you have to have a different strategy.
Anthony: Yeah, absolutely. Well, I want to finish this out where I ask this question of everyone who’s on the show. The question is, if you had to start over again today in voiceover without any of your contacts, without any of your friends, negating all the learning curve when it comes to equipment and everything, but just starting out brand new, what would you do?
Jessica: What do I have again?
Anthony: Let’s say you just have your equipment. So you have your equipment…
Jessica: I have my skills
Anthony: For some odd reason.
Miles: All your agents, all the contacts, every roster you’re on just suddenly disappear.
Anthony: Everything you’ve build. For example, you mentioned just like – and I realize it too in what Miles was saying. Is it’s easy to say no to work that’s low paying when you have repeat customers that pay less. I always remember that myself when I’m talking to other people. So let’s just say we take all that away and we take away your name or your reputation and you’re just starting off from scratch, where do you start?
Jessica: I would start again immediately trying to get onto rosters.
Anthony: When you say rosters, can you give us an idea of what you’re talking about?
Jessica: So production companies, audio production – Mostly audio production companies maintain lists of voice talent who they work with on a regular basis. So when they have a client come to them and they say, “We have a project we want done. We’re looking for a female sound, 30 to 40.” They have a handful of people that they send to that client and they say, “Here are the people we have on our roster” which means you’ve auditioned for them or you’ve gone through their vetting process. They’ve listened to your studio, they know that you’re available the times that they record and they’ve said, “Yes, we want you to be on our roster, on our list of talent that we suggest to our clients when they’re coming to book a job, when they want to have a job done.”
Anthony: How do you find these? Is it video – There are all types of video production companies and all types of…
Jessica: Yeah, there are tons of production companies. I know that the ones that I’m on tend to be mostly audio production. Google audio production. You could even audio production roster, voice talent roster, voice roster.
Anthony: That’s a really good tip because I think most of us or most people really are focused on the video production.
Jessica: Yeah. And I think there are a lot of companies who are just focusing on audio.
Anthony: It’s probably going to be popping up more and more now as well.
Jessica: Yeah. My strategy is I want the work to come to me with as little effort, as few auditions as possible because I like to do the work. Not always the auditioning, but… Fewer auditions, more working.
Anthony: I love it. Could you give us real quick just an idea of the kind of business in a real nutshell that you’ve booked?
Jessica: I’ve done work for Nature Made, for NBC Universal, Potawatomi Hotel and Casino, United Airlines, Adidas. I’m sure I could come up with more.
Anthony: That is awesome. You have IBM on your site?
Jessica: Yep. I’ve done IBM.
Anthony: I had to ask this because Miles and I were kidding about this. On your website – It’s jessicavo.com if anybody wants to go check it out. You have a knee with a…
Miles: You got to tell us about the knee.
Anthony: What’s up with the knee?
Jessica: That’s so funny. This is good feedback. When I was doing my branding – I really did it myself. I read Celia Siegel’s book and I really thought about those questions and I journaled on them. For me, I really enjoy looking at stock photos. I looked at thousands of pictures probably for weeks. I was looking for that one picture – you know they say picture is worth a thousand words – that one picture that would just kind of epitomize how I feel about myself and what I feel like I put out and I kept coming back to jeans. I was like, “It has to involve jeans.” So I was looking at all these jean images. Where I live – I live in Boulder, Colorado. It’s a very relaxed, casual place. I could virtually walk outside in my pajamas if I wanted and no one would look twice. So when I saw that picture – and actually the original version of that picture has a smiley face written on the skin of that knee. That was the first image that I used. Then my coach Nancy said, “You need to get rid of the smiley face.” So then I changed it and I modified the colors that went with it.
Miles: Nancy is pure class.
Anthony: I guess Nancy must get the jeans too.
Jessica: You don’t get it?
Anthony: That doesn’t mean anything. I just…
Jessica: It’s okay.
Miles: I get it.
Jessica: What does it mean to you?
Miles: Now that I see that, I get it now.
Anthony: When you say the story why you have the jeans there, it makes perfect sense.
Jessica: It’s like casual, natural, comfortable, easy to be with, easy to work with, laid back.
Jessica: Thank you. Authentic. Not trying to put anything on.
Miles: It’s a kind of a relaxed familiarity isn’t it?
Jessica: Yeah, I think that’s what I was trying to put out there. But what’s with the knee? That’s what I’m going to take. I’m going to feel like…
Anthony: Leave it to me. What’s with the knee? Jessica, thank you so much for being on the show. This has been incredible. The time that you’ve given us, I really appreciate it. I guess like we said, if you want to learn more about Jessica because we do have media companies and things that also listen to the podcast. It’s jessicavo.com if you need to find her there. Jessica, thank you so much for being on the show.
Jessica: Thank you. I really appreciate it.
Miles: Thanks, Jessica.
Jessica: It’s so much fun talking with you guys.
Anthony: Alright, well you have a good one and we’ll talk to you later. Bye-bye.
Anthony: Well, thank you so much Jessica for being on the show and Miles, as always. It is an honor to have had the opportunity to interview you. Again, if you want to find out more about Jessica, you can go to jessicavo.com. She has an awesome website. You can listen to demos as well as see the amazing ‘acclaimed me.’ Thank you, Jessica. As always, have a wonderful, wonderful day. Peace.
Mike Lenz VO
Jessica shares her story about how she transitioned from full-time mom to full-time voice talent (and full time Mom – let’s be real) and how she stunned her husband with her second booking. It’s a pretty fantastic tale! They discuss the challenges of sustaining a career in voice over and Jessica shares some gems about what to expect as a voice talent. Mike and Jessica also discuss their mutual love of their backyard hens.
Intro: Hi, everyone. Welcome to the Mike Lenz VO podcast. My name is Mike Lenz. I’m an entrepreneur and a full-time professional voice actor and audiobook narrator. My goal is to share with you stories from some of the most amazing and inspiring people from all areas of the voiceover industry, to help you achieve your dream of becoming a professional voice actor. So please leave me a review over on iTunes and join us over on the web at mikelenzvopodcast.com to be notified of each episode when it comes out. Now, get ready to be inspired.
Hey everyone, welcome to another episode of the Mike Lenz VO podcast. A quick shout out to my newest podcast patron, Dustin Craven. Part of Dustin’s membership award is that today’s episode is a Dustin Craven and Mike Lenz voice production. If you want to find out how you can be part of my Patreon community, head over to patreon.com/mikelenz and check out the different membership tiers, that includes amongst other things, a half-hour or a one-hour Zoom call with me based on your membership level. And also based on your membership level, you will get mentioned on a podcast and you might even be a co-producer, which is pretty cool. In addition, becoming a member will give you access to Patron-only posts. I just did a video recently showing the behind-the-scenes of how I keep track of my narration billable hours each week. Another showing how I organize my audiobook recording schedule with spreadsheets and my coding system, and some behind-the-scenes photos of my new studio remodel, and only my patrons get to see it.
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Alright, so check out both offers over at mikelenzvopodcast.com. And don’t forget to sign up for my e-newsletter over at mikelenzvoice.com. Just go to the bottom of the homepage and sign up for updates on my journey and the interesting things I’m learning along the way. And finally, if you haven’t already, head over to Facebook and join the Mike Lenz VO podcast Facebook group. That’s where you can ask specific questions about each episode and interact with me and other members of the group. If there’s something we didn’t cover in this episode, you can let me know in the Facebook group and I can get you an answer, or at least I’ll try. All right, on today’s episode, my guest is Jessica Taylor. Jessica can be heard on television, on the web and on the radio for projects large and small. She often books projects that ask for vocal qualities and deliveries, similar to the sounds of celebrities like Kristen Bell, Rashida Jones, Tina Faye, Anna Kendrick, Scarlet Johansen, Emma Stone, and Jennifer Lawrence. It’s quite a list. Jessica’s clients include IBM, Coors, Brookstone, Amazon, Spotify, Lincoln, and New York Life to name just a few. Jessica, welcome to the podcast.
Jessica: Thanks, Mike. This is so exciting. It’s great to be here.
Mike: I know, I’m so glad we got to connect. We talk on social media. We’ve been talking about chickens and all that fun stuff, about our life outside of VO. I’m so glad that we got a chance to connect and get you on the podcast. So welcome. So let’s start by having you share with our listeners about your journey into VO. How did this all start? How did you get where you are today?
Jessica: Where am I today? I don’t know. I’m having a moment of, like, “Am I being interviewed on a podcast?” What have I accomplished? I mean, I’ve accomplished a lot. I guess I’m a full-time voice actor, and I did it, like I basically started out full-time, which is kind of crazy to say. I got started really in 2017. And what is so funny, and one of the reasons I wanted to be on your podcast was because I wanted to share this with you. That this is like the biggest full circle moment for me, because when I got started – I live in Boulder and I know I have to mention the terrible tragedy we had here last week. It’s been really a pivotal time in our small – Boulder’s a really small place. So anyway, I felt like I needed to say something; to acknowledge the fact that that happened as I tell you that I live in Boulder. So as I would drive from Boulder down to Denver to start taking voiceover classes, I listened to your podcast religiously, it’s like an hour drive each way. And I listened to every single one, and then I started listening to them over and over again, because I was like, there aren’t enough. So, and now to actually be talking with you, it’s so much fun. It’s so cool that it’s like full circle.
Mike: That is awesome.
Jessica: So I hope that’s cool for you too.
Mike: My, gosh! Yeah.
Jessica: It’s like major inspiration for me listening to all the talent and learning and just like, you know, having that time to myself. I have three boys. So having that time to myself to like just selfishly listen and study and think about voiceover it was so decadent. So I have a great association with you.
Mike: That’s great. And I imagine that it must be really, and I want to hear about your journey, but I think it’s nice when you’re in that position where, like, I’ve had to travel back and forth to New York City sometimes for different work that I’ve done. And when I get on the train, I feel this sense of relaxation where I’m like, I can just read a book or listen to a podcast because there’s nothing else that I can possibly do. And it’s not that we don’t love our children, we don’t love our families, we don’t love our lives, but sometimes it’s nice to be someplace where you just don’t have to do anything.
Jessica: Completely. And I chose you during that time, Mike.
Mike: You know what? That is even more special. I love that. So, tell us about your journey.
Jessica: Well, oh, this story feels so convoluted to me to tell. So just reign me in if I start rambling and I want to try and keep it succinct. But it all started at birth
Mike: Oh God. Alright, let me reign you in.
Jessica: Yeah, pull me in there. So in middle school, I started doing lots of theater, theater singing, mostly musical theater choir, band, everything and anything creative. That developed into a love of speech. Mostly doing theater in high school, like, you know, to the point where one of my jokes is that I never took chemistry, and all my friends would be like, “Why aren’t you taking chemistry?” I was like, I don’t know. I read the book and apparently I don’t have to take it. It doesn’t say, “You have to take chemistry to graduate.” And I was like, and that means I can take another acting class. So I don’t know anything about chemistry. And then in my senior year of high school, I flunked. It’s the only class I ever failed. I failed physics because I was Eliza in my Fair Lady. I mean.
Mike: There you go.
Jessica: Physics had no relevance to me.
Mike: None whatsoever. None. I can imagine.
Jessica: So, didn’t take chemistry, failed physics, the only class ever failed. And then I wanted to get a BFA in acting after high school. So I auditioned for all kinds of top shelf programs and was accepted at great schools. But unfortunately at the time my parents were getting divorced and these schools were so expensive and there just wasn’t the money for me to do that basically. So I kind of let that piece go and I was like, “That’s okay. I’m still going to pursue theater”. I went to massage school because I wanted to be able to earn good money in a short amount of time so that I could, you know, spend time auditioning and rehearsing and performing. So I did that, met a guy, a boyfriend at the time. He was a chiropractor. I was a massage therapist. We made a great duo, actually and from Minnesota, that’s where I grew up. We moved down to Denver. That was when I came to Colorado in ’98. And I immediately started doing theater. And I have some kind of funny claims to fame. One is that, well, in high school I was in theater with Maria Thayer, who is now I would say famous actress. She was on Strangers with Candy. She’s been on lots of late night comedy shows. She’s kind of like an improv sketch artist. And so that’s one of them. And then when I moved to Colorado, I played Amy in a musical adaptation of Little Women. And I played post-p[ubescent Amy and pre-pubescent Amy was played by Annaleigh Swanson, who is now known as Annaleigh Ashford, who is the Tony Award-winning actress in Sunday in the Park with George.
So she was like 11 years old at the time. And she and I both together played the role of Amy in Little Women, the musical. That’s kind of a fun, fun story. Whoops, sorry, I just touched the thing there. Continued with theater. I ended up being cast the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, like the only person who had ever been cast locally who wasn’t cast out of New York and LA. So I was an understudy in Much Ado about nothing. And that’s kind of where I started to meet different people in the theater community, like more regional talent, talent who were coming in from the coasts. And I started paying attention to the classes everybody was taking. And there was a voiceover class and I was like, what in the world is voiceover? So I took the class and I remember getting a piece of copy and it was four words. And I had my Walkman, that’s how we recorded our takes, everybody. We were like, you know, in a big room all at tables and everybody had their Walkman and someone would pass out the copy and four words. And I was just like, what? I had no idea what to do. I mean, it’s such a different skill from being on stage.
Mike: Isn’t it crazy how, how unique it is?
Jessica: It’s such a unique skillset and there’s really nothing that translated from, you know, doing Shakespeare on stage to four words about a car. I was dumbfounded. So at that point, I really didn’t continue with voiceover because I was kind of like, I don’t really get it. But I was intrigued also. I was like, this is a really different kind of challenge acting wise. So I continued doing theater and then I ended up opening a spa from my massage work. So I was really, and I’ve always been a very strong entrepreneur and my massage business had really taken off. So I decided that I wanted to hire employees to work for me and I had a training center in Denver where I taught massage therapists from around the country how to give massage with their feet.
I actually trained one of Willie Nelson’s daughters how to give massage with her feet. And I have one of her CDs because she’s of course a musician. So I took that business for about 10 years. And I had really managed myself out of it to the point where I was home with my kids, which was my goal ultimately, was that I wanted to have a business that was kind of running itself while I would be able to be home with my kids and I could manage it, you know, virtually. So I had gotten the business to that point, but then September, 2008 happened. And I’ll just say massage was essentially the first thing to go from everybody’s budget. So I took it as a sign, it was a really tough time actually.
It was really sad. I mean, I had worked really hard at this business and this is going to tie into voiceover, so just hang on. So I decided to close it at that point and stay home with my kids, which I did for 10 years. During that time we moved overseas. We lived in Prague for four years. And then in 2016 we came back to Colorado. And we moved to Boulder. And I knew that it was time. My youngest was turning six and I was like, he’s going to be in school or in more programs coming up. And I knew that I was like on the threshold of what’s next for me personally and professionally. Because I was really excited. I love being home with my kids and I’m really thankful for that time that I had with them.
But I was also like really itching to do something creative again. So I had these criteria. I was like, whatever I do, it has to be creative. I need to have my own business again. It needs to be entrepreneurial because I absolutely loved the marketing behind having my own business. And I had gained so many skills from having my own business for those years. And I also wanted to be able to make some really solid money in a short amount of time; that’s been a theme in my life too. Like, how can I maximize my earnings in a short amount of time so that what I do supports the lifestyle I want to live, rather than my job being the lifestyle, you know, and then fitting my life in around what’s left. So it was kind of a tall order, I guess.
And I mentioned it to my mom and she said, you know, a friend of my boyfriend, she’s an audiobook narrator. And I was like, “Oh, that’s interesting.” She goes, “Do you want to meet her when you come up here this summer?” I was like, “Sure.” So I went and met with her, and I have to say this woman, she set me up just in her generosity. And it was like my first taste of the generosity in voiceover, like, I was so overwhelmed. She had prepared a document for me. All of the, “Don’t go to any of these companies, avoid all of these demo producers. If you find this program, ignore it”. You know, it was like, I feel like I got so lucky to have been started out on the right foot immediately.
And she kind of gave me a picture of what her day was like. And, you know, oh, I come in the morning and I go through my emails and there will be auditions and some I’ll want to do, then I’ll have some jobs that I’ll do. I’ll record the jobs then I’ll do some marketing. And it was like bells and whistles in my head. I was like, “Oh my God, this is perfect.” Yeah. Ding, ding, ding, ding. And at the time, I didn’t really realize the income potential of voiceover. I had kind of ignored that part of my, you know, three-pronged plan because everything else was so great. I was like, this is like a little creative outlet I could have in the house. You know, like, I can come up and record some auditions, then I can go downstairs and do laundry and do some schoolwork with my kids.
And it was just like, I was so taken away with the whole thought. So I came back to Colorado after that trip and I went Gung-ho, like I immediately contacted Tia Marlier. Do you know Tia?
Mike: I don’t know. I don’t think so.
Jessica: She had been a massage client of mine while I had my business, and I met her on a corporate shoot on an on-camera shoot. And so I had known her for like 15 years. And I knew that she had done voiceover, and she would listen to my voicemail messages for my massage company. And I remember during that time, she would say to me, Jessica, whenever you’re ready to get started in voiceover, you just let me know.
And I was like, I would just kind of giggle at her. I’d be like, it’s just a voicemail, Tia, it’s, it’s nothing. She was like, so I get back home and I thought, oh my gosh, I have to contact Tia. I sent her an email and she said, well, so funny, you should be in touch with me because I’m actually an agent at Go Voices now. And I was like, “Oh, really? So I said to her, well, great, I just want to start coaching. I want to start coaching with you. And I just want to coach a couple times a week and we’re just going to do it, and you just tell me when I’m ready for a demo. And that was my only expectation. I just want to get better. I want to see what it’s all about. I want to get familiar with the different genres and see where you think I might fit.”
So we coach for about six weeks, and she’s like, I think you’re ready for a demo. And I was like, okay, great. I mean, I really trusted Tia. She’s a fantastic person for anybody to get in touch with, who’s getting started in voiceover. She’s kind and gentle but also really, you know, picky in a great way, gives great direction. She’s been a talent, she’s been an agent. Her website is vopeptalk.com and I adore Tia. So she basically helped me produce a demo here in Boulder, and I had never recorded a job. I recorded a commercial demo and a corporate narration demo, and I sent them to Go Voices. And actually during this time, Tia then moved on from Go Voices because she actually… there was nothing wrong. She just decided that being an agent wasn’t for her.
It was you know, voiceover talent tend to, we tend to enjoy our flexibility. And so she was having a hard time with nine to five. So she stepped aside and went back to being a talent and coaching exclusively because she discovered that was the part that she really liked the most about being an agent, was giving feedback and helping people improve. So I submitted my demos to Go Voices. They asked for an audition and they signed me. I had not booked a job yet. I hadn’t done a job professionally, so I was just like, it just kind of felt like, you know, an avalanche coming down the mountain. You know, like it was just, everything was just happening and I just felt like I was doing the right thing at the right time for me. And just like, it was just meant to be, you know, like, I don’t like to take credit, like, “Oh, I’m amazing.” I just think that it was more like something that had just been brewing, like in the background in my life for a long time. Like, all of the things that I had done kind of culminated in this field, and it was just so perfect for who I am and where my strengths are.
Mike: Well, and you would think about what you had gone through early in your life and in your adult life. You know, you were performing, you were acting, you were learning that creative side of it, and then you got that whole business side of it, which I talked to people a lot on this podcast and, you know, having run a brick and mortar business for almost 30 years, having that background is so important when you start to go through the process of beginning your own small business or a different small business. So Yeah, I mean, when you’re telling me that story, that’s exactly what I was thinking to myself, man, Jessica had this beautiful combination of the creative side honing that skill and then combining it with understanding how to run a business. And you put those two together and it’s like, boom!
Jessica: I know, sometimes I feel regret because I didn’t discover this, I didn’t continue it when I was in my early twenties. You know, it’s like, where could my career be now? What did I miss out on? But I also realize that if I had not started and run that business, I would never have been able to do this the way I have in this short amount of time because the business background is so important.
Mike: It’s critical.
Jessica: It’s equally important as the talent and the skill and everything else. So when that happened, when I signed with Go Voices, then I started getting auditions and I would look at the pay and I was like, “Oh my God.” And you can also make a lot of money in a short amount of time. Like, I had just kind of forgotten the money thing because I just loved it so much. I was like, kind of like, geez, I love this. It’s okay if it’s not like, you know, this big money maker. Well, it actually turned out to be.
Mike: You see those usage fees, and you’re like, whoa!
Jessica: And the second job I booked with Go Voices was a three year national campaign with Nature Made.
Jessica: Big money and I told my husband about it. Now, I stayed home for 10 years. So my, my husband, he’s an IT professional, he does very well for us. But this day I went into his office and I had booked the job, and I was in tears. I couldn’t believe it. And I just said, I need to go record tomorrow. And he’s like, “Oh, I’ve got meetings, I’ve got, I’ve got this client thing coming up, you know, I’m supposed to leave on a trip the day after”. And I said, Brent, I’m going to make $40,000 tomorrow. And he looked at me and he goes, “Okay, I’ll work it out.”
Mike: Let me move a few things around.
Jessica: He’s like, “Okay, well, allright, no problem. Let me see what I can do.” So it was such a pivotal moment, like for having been someone who had stayed home for 10 years and really relied on my husband’s income to like have this moment of like, yeah, someone wants me to work for them for about four hours for $40,000. It was just like you know, a different level of like self-gratification. It felt really good.
Mike: Yeah. I mean, the door opens up and you’re like, “Oh my gosh.” And, you know, and I certainly, you’re not saying that voice actors make $40,000 a day, but that was an amazing eye-opening experience for you to say, wait a minute, this could be something big. I’ve got it. And when you look at things like that, like a national campaign, you understand the competition that you were up against.
Jessica: Well, you want to know what’s interesting is that I didn’t understand the competition I was up against because I didn’t know the industry that well. I didn’t know it until I talked to Tia about it. And she said, do you realize that went out to every… I think it was cast by Sound and Fury. She said that they probably listened to at least a thousand auditions. And I think, you know, now I get those auditions and it’s kind of dumb because I a little bit roll my eyes like, “Oh, okay, I’ll try.” But then I say to myself, hold on, you booked one of these ones, you know? But now I understand that competition. Before, I really didn’t, you know what I mean? It was kind of like, it was just ignorance was bliss.
Mike: Yeah. And it probably helped, it was to your advantage in the sense that if you knew it was a $40,000 job, you might’ve gotten so nervous in your audition that you might not have gotten it. Who knows? You were just going in there and you were going for it because you didn’t know any different.
Jessica: What’s interesting is I go back and if I re-listen to that audition, which, here’s a great tip from Tom Pinto that I adopted. Any winning audition, any audition that booked me a job, I keep a folder on the desktop of my computer and I put it in there. So I have a folder of all of my auditions that have booked me jobs. And it’s great to listen to those sometimes when, you know, you haven’t booked something in a while. But I go back and listen to that audition, and when I listen to it, there’s a quality in it that I hear that I think I understand when I hear from creatives when they say, we want someone who doesn’t sound like a voiceover artist because I hadn’t had a ton of coaching yet and the direction was like enthusiastic, over the top, full of life. And if I had gotten that same audition today, I’m fairly sure I would approach it completely differently. You know, it would sound different today.
Mike: Well you approached it as somebody who really, for all intents and purposes, wasn’t a voice actor at the time. You hadn’t booked anything yet. You had been doing the coaching, you were preparing yourself. But you were coming at it from the perspective of the every person who, who wasn’t the VO that’s cranking out, you know, 20 auditions a day, because that wasn’t you at that time.
Jessica: No, it wasn’t yet. No, not yet.
Mike: So you were was it called? Tabula Rosa.
Jessica: I don’t know what that means.
Jessica: The blank slate. It’s Latin for…
Jessica: The blank slate, I like that.
Mike: The blank slate. You’re just open to anything. You just went in and just did it.
Jessica: I mean, so I went in and recorded that job the next day, and I learned everything on the job that day. I’ll just put it that way, because I had only done one small studio job before that. So this was like my second in-studio job. The first one was a short 30 second commercial. This one was like a whole day, you know, four or five hour session. Because we were recording 20 some pre-roll spots, so it was a big day. But I remember the creative guy going, okay, let’s do an ABC on that. And in my mind I was like, “Yep, don’t know what an ABC is.” I didn’t say that, I was like, it must mean I do it three times.
Mike: Well, you did it, you figured it out.
Jessica: I figured it out. I mean, but the feedback I got was fantastic. You know, they had me coming back and rerecording, I mean, we added like four or five more spots over the next year. So everything went well. They kept using me. But it was intense on the job training that day. I’ll put it that way.
Mike: That’s pretty impressive that you figured it out. I love that Christian Lanz has a story where he was doing an on-camera audition, he’d never done one before, and he walked in, the guy’s like, “Have you checked your sides?” And he was like, he actually literally went to feel his ribs, thought there was something wrong with his ribs. And he’s like, “Yeah, I’m good. And they’re like, okay.”
Jessica: They are good. Thanks for checking.
Mike: My sides are good. You figured it out. That’s the main thing. That’s awesome. Hey, listen, I’m going to take a very, very quick break. I want to get back we’re going to talk about some other things that have been going on in your life, in the VO world and also just in life in general. But we’re going to take a quick break for a word from our sponsors and we’ll be right back in just about two minutes.
Commercial Break: Hey everybody, I just want to talk a little bit about the sponsors of this podcast. The first one is Voice Zam. My friend Bob Merkel has a great product. You guys know, if you’ve listened to this podcast, I’ve been promoting it for a while because it works fantastic. It not only is a web-based demo player where you can stack your demos so that when you’re sending them out to clients or people come to your website, they can easily click through and listen to your demos.
They don’t have to scroll through an mp3, they can actually see them stacked on top of each other. Great feature. And also you can use it as a marketing tool. And there’s so many different ways that you can use it, and I use it all the time. So go over to voicesam.com and schedule a conversation with Bob Merkel. And also, if you go to the Mike Lenz VO podcast website, about halfway down the homepage, you’ll go to the sponsors and you can click on that link and you’ll get a 30 day free trial. Now, regularly, it’s a 15 day free trial, but if you click on the Mike Lenz special deal, you’re going to get an additional 15 days for free. All right, so check that out over at voiceam.com. Also want to talk about my friend Tim Tippets and his audition Ready Audio course.
You can go over to his website at votechguru.com, or go to the link on my website at the mikelenzvopodcast.com, and you can go down to the sponsor link, click on that, and type in ML20. You’ll get 20% off of Tim’s course. That’s, I believe, almost a $100 savings. So you’re going to want to check that out. A fantastic course that teaches you about the technical side of what we do, which is equally important as the creative and talent side. So, check that out as well. So again, I want to thank my sponsors, the VO Tech Guru and the Audition Radio audio course, as well as my friend Bob Merkel over at voicezam.com. All right, thank you so much. We’ll get back to the show now.
Mike: Okay, everybody, welcome back. I am here with Jessica Taylor, and Jessica’s been sharing with us her journey into the VO world and really cool, her nice blending of the creative side and the business side, and then getting the training, really trying to understand the industry, and then some really amazing early success in your career to get started. But I’m sure there must have been and have been over the course of your career, some, some obstacles, some hurdles that you’ve had to overcome. What were some of those things, and more importantly, what are some of the lessons that you learned from them?
Jessica: Okay, well, you know, it’s tough starting out at such a high level, I’ll just say that. Because, typically, a career kind of builds to something like that instead of starting out with something like that. So, there was a period where I was excited to record a voicemail for a hundred dollars. You know what I mean? Like, talk about extremes, from one extreme to the other. Because I’ve had people ask me, “How much do you make doing voiceover?” I’m like, “Well, that’s a really…” I was like, “Well, one day I made…”
Mike: What month is it?
Jessica: I said, “Well, yesterday I did a voicemail for a hundred dollars”. You know what I mean?
Mike: I do.
Jessica: Like an office. I think it’s the swings are a serious obstacle, you know? And I’ve said to myself during that time, like, “Oh, geez, did I just get lucky?” Am I really good at this? Or did I just kind of win the lottery? So that took a while, and it just took time for me to see myself booking a more work, getting other big campaigns, and going, “Okay, I am good at this. There’s a sound that people want from me that I clearly fit.” But yeah, that those swings were kind of – they just like really shake your confidence.
Mike: That’s interesting because I never would’ve thought of that perspective, but that’s such a cool perspective because yeah, you had early success. I mean, really, you know, significant success because that’s a big number for anybody at any level in their career to land a gig like that. So, to get that right out of the box, I guess that can kind of mess with your mind a little bit because you’re like, “Okay, hmm, this next job wasn’t $40,000. What’s up with that?”
Jessica: Right. And typically most are somewhere in between. So, the a hundred is just crazy extremes, a voiceover. But it’s also one of the things I love about voiceover. I love the variety. I love, and to me, I didn’t work any less hard on that voicemail for a hundred dollars. It didn’t mean any less to me. Like I still wanted to do my best job. And I think that’s part of how voiceover, you know, people who love it, it’s because you just love doing the work.
Mike: Well, that’s the performance piece, right?
Mike: That’s the actor in us, the creative in us. And I’ve had situations where I’ve done audio books, where it was a book that maybe wasn’t for a big publisher, or it was a shorter book. And you have to remember, and PJ Oakland had a great comment; his piece of advice last month was, “Commit, don’t comment.” He’s like, you know, once you agree to do a project, you have to commit to doing it to the best of your ability. And in the audio book world, sometimes you’ll get books that you’re like, I’m not really excited about this book, but you have to commit to it. And I think that’s true because as artists, we want to commit and you’ll go back and you’ll kind of get feedback saying, “Okay, the author,” or they want you to do it a little bit differently or wanted to put a little bit more emotion in this scene.
And then you go back and listen and go, “You know what, I didn’t do that as good as I could.” And then you go back and you do it better and you hear it and you’re like, “Ooh, yeah, that’s it. That’s the read. That’s the one I was supposed to do.” And it does take effort when we do this all the time, every day to make sure that we are really bringing our best performance to the work that we do. It’s draining. It can be draining for sure.
Jessica: Yeah. I think having those wild swings early on, because then I kind of went right to, you know, where most beginners start; booking work, but going, “Geez, I mean, how many auditions have I done since I booked something?” And it’s that black hole of not hearing anything, either from an audition or from marketing touches with people. And that gets really just, ugh, it just feels so heavy, like in that beginning time when you’re just, just getting no feedback of any kind on a regular basis. Nothing to kind of construct how you feel about the work you’re doing or knowing where you’re at or if you’re progressing. And actually, one of the things that helped me with that was getting a CRM, because just seeing that a person I’ve reached out to has opened an email a couple, two, three times, even though they don’t respond to me, was the greatest form of feedback. And kind of gave me a little bit of a motivation to, “Okay, people are – they’re seeing when I reach out to them, they’re reading the email. Oh, they’re looking at it again.” You know what I mean? So even though they’re not responding, I know I have their attention.
Mike: Yeah, mentally, you know, it’s not just going into a black hole where like, what? Anything! Anybody!
Jessica: Is anything happening?
Mike: Anybody listening to me? Yeah, you can actually track it. It’s all about control, right? It gives you some control over your career, control over your marketing efforts, so you can at least see something on a screen that tells you, okay, this is working, this isn’t working, at least I’m making contact with this person. And we never know. I just literally got done doing an audiobook called I’ll Get Back to You. And how we as human beings are designed instinctively to need to close loops. We don’t like unclosed loops because that’s a survival instinct for us. So when you send a text to somebody and they don’t text you back, then your brain has to close that loop. And oftentimes we will close the loop with the very worst case scenario.
Mike: My son or daughter didn’t text me back, oh my gosh, the train crashed and they didn’t get back to New York City. We close the loop with the worst case scenario. So if we send an email off or an audition or reach out, do some marketing and get no response, then we instantly go to the worst case scenario. They hate me, they’ll never hire me, I’ll never get another job again. It’s just human nature.
Jessica: That’s interesting. So that’s been helpful. CRM, it’s great. Right now I’m really working on consistency and it’s really happened. COVID ironically was kind of great for my career, mostly because I wasn’t driving kids all over the place, so my availability skyrocketed. Like, are you available? Of course I am. What else would I be doing? I’m home.
Mike: Whenever you want me.
Jessica: Whenever you want me. Yeah, I discovered early morning sessions are my favorite because my kids are still sleeping.
Mike: That’s when I do all my recording in the morning. The bulk of my recording is done between eight to 10 in the morning because everybody’s asleep.
Jessica: Yeah. I recorded – I had a session this morning at 8:00 AM, I was recording a tag on a national commercial. It took 20 minutes and I was like, you know, you guys sleep, I’ll be, you know?
Mike: I’ll take care of it.
Jessica: It’s great. It’s great.
Mike: I love it. I love it. So let’s talk about something outside of VO that we both have in common.
Mike: I think this is really cool. Do you want to say it or do I want you want me to say it?
Jessica: The yard jewelry.
Mike: They are cute, but not very intelligent chickens.
Jessica: Yes. Oh, those sweet girls.
Mike: Isn’t it amazing? So yeah, Jessica and I both own chickens. And that’s kind of how I think we even first started communicating on social media, was commenting on some pictures of chickens or eggs.
Jessica: Pretty girls, yeah.
Mike: Yeah. So that’s kind of a – I mean, I know for me it’s a nice hobby to have. It’s definitely a nice diversion and it’s definitely nice to get these beautiful golden eggs. So what led you guys to get chickens? Was this your decision, your husband, the children’s, all the above? How’d you guys make that decision?
Jessica: Oh, it wasn’t my husband’s, I’ll just put it that way.
Jessica: Oh, no.
Jessica: No, he doesn’t like things with wings, but he does like their eggs, so that’s good. But my kids, we lived in Prague and it was very common for people to have chickens there. It’s like – I don’t even know what to relate it to, but it’s just something people do there. It’s like part of life. It’s like, well yeah, you want eggs, you need to have some chickens. So when we came back home I was like, yeah, we got to do that. We got to do that. And my husband went on a trip, business trip and he came home and we had four pullets in the house.
Mike: Love it.
Jessica: We had talked about it briefly, so he knew it might be coming, but he was a little surprised. We didn’t even have a coop. I just went and got the – because they had to be in the house for –
Mike: Sure. Like five weeks I think.
Jessica: Yeah, six to eight weeks. So I was like, you know what, and this is sometimes how I roll. I like to get myself in a situation first and then I figure everything else out. So I bought the girls and then I was like, okay, guess we should get a coop. So I kind of reverse engineer sometimes.
Mike: Perfect. I love it. Well, my wife said to me – I remember I talked about chickens for a year before we got them. And she’s like, “Look, you can get chickens but you and the kids are going to take care of them. I’m not going to have anything to do with it.” So I’m like, fine. And then about a month ago, my wife said, “So I think we should get four more chickens,” so we’re going to have eight in about a month now.
Jessica: Oh my gosh.
Mike: Four to eight. So she has definitely come around to the whole chicken idea because she likes the eggs.
Jessica: Oh, they’re great. So the first time we got pullets, and then we got two more right when the shutdown started. It was the very end of March we got two, two day old chicks. And we did not know this shutdown was coming. It was just school was kind of closed and we didn’t really know what was happening. But it turned out to be the most fantastic, like, serendipitous thing we could have purchased.
Mike: Oh yeah. Something to turn the focus on during the whole shutdown.
Jessica: So we had these adorable little chicks in the house and even though the world was scary and unsure, we just had these adorable chicks and they’re great. So they just turned a year old. My first Buff Orpington, and she never stopped laying all winter. She’s the only chicken I’ve had who hasn’t stopped laying in the winter.
Mike: Yeah, you told me that. I think you told me that on social media. And I remember that we have three new girls and one older girl, and the three girls laid all the way through the winter as well. Which is amazing because you’re in Colorado, I’m an upstate New York; chickens kind of usually tip it down.
Jessica: You would think I have even more daylight.
Mike: Yeah, but I was very pleasantly surprised. They didn’t produce as much as they’re producing now, but they didn’t stop ever all the way through the winter. And those of you that are listening, because this is really important VO knowledge for you to understand, is that chickens in the wintertime will stop laying often because they’re using all the protein that they would normally use to make eggs to stay warm, number one. Number two, they don’t have enough sunlight. The sunlight triggers the hormone that causes them to lay the eggs. So that’s your chicken lesson for today, all my listeners. So typically you’re not going to get a lot of eggs in the winter, but because the girls are a little younger, because our girls are similar in age, they’re a little more prolific in their laying capabilities, so I think that was probably the reason why, but that’s great.
Jessica: Well, I don’t know.
Mike: And now they cranking.
Jessica: Oh my gosh. This is the golden time. This is the time when it’s so amazing to have them and to be outside gardening and they’re running around after you and you’re digging in the dirt and you know, they’re pecking all the worms and it’s so much fun. And the grass is green and you sit out and eat, eat dinner outside and they’re walking around so pretty and –
Mike: It’s really wonderful. It’s the gateway drug to owning backyard animals. But they’re the best pet in the world because they don’t take that… they’re very easy to take care of and they give you food. What other pet gives you food that’s actually edible?
Jessica: I know. Our eggs are glorious.
Mike: We love it. We love it. That’s awesome. So listen, we’re coming up on the end of our time together, Jessica.
Mike: Yeah. Yep. It’s coming up really fast.
Jessica: Okay, thanks.
Mike: So before we wrap up, what do you think if you were hanging out with an aspiring voice actor and you had to give them just one single piece of advice, what do you think that would be?
Jessica: Well, you know, when I tell people my voiceover story, if they’re interested in voiceover, sometimes I don’t like telling it because I don’t want it to sound discouraging, like that I had this crazy success right away, because it’s not usual. And what that brings me to in terms of the single piece of advice is don’t compare your journey to somebody else’s because they are all so different. And that is something that I’ve struggled with too. You know, it’s interesting you talk about Christian Lanz because I read a post of his the other day. And he’s talking about how he has a career that he developed completely only from agents and managers. He’s never been on a pay to play. I don’t think he markets directly. Everything he does comes through an agent or a manager.
And I had a moment of like, oh my gosh, you know, am I doing well or is that the career I should aspire to? You know what I mean? But truthfully, you really can’t compare. No. Natasha Machewka, I took her VO master to-do list, before I really even had a reason to have a to-do list in VO, but I was just so excited, I was taking anything and everything. Same time I was listening to your podcast and driving down to Denver, taking classes. And I took her thing and she was like, what’s your goal? And I was like, “Huh, what is it? What is my goal? What is my goal?” And she said, well, my goal is to make a full-time income in part-time hours.” And I was like, yep, that’s my goal too. That sounds perfect. And that’s what I’ve done. So, you know, you can’t compare your journey to somebody else who may have a completely different goal in the long run. My goal is full-time income in part-time hours, and I’ve done it. And everybody has a different path to achieve what it is they want to achieve.
Mike: And not only you had that early success, and as you said, there are ups and downs and you kind of go through the rollercoaster of what it’s like to be a freelance voice actor. But just this past year, you were one of the top 20 voices for 2020, so I want to make sure I that because that’s a testament to any question you may have about, I had that early success, but am I really a successful voice actor? There you go. One of the top 20 voices, so kudos to you for that.
Jessica: Well, thank you. They are really sweet, sweet people.
Mike: They are. And you are an incredibly talented voice actor. And I’ll tell you that that comparison thing is so important to people because I can’t tell you how many conversations I’ve had with people that would ask me about how to get started in VO. And there’s nothing wrong with being inspired by other people in the industry because that’s a good thing. So when I listen to an audiobook narrator that I admire, and I listen in my headphones, and I’m not only listening to the story, but I’m listening to the way that they read that story, how they narrate it, what their reflections are. Not that I want to be that person, but I know I can learn from that person and I can be inspired by that person, but I don’t compare myself to anybody because I’m telling you, I’ve had 120 plus interviews on this podcast, and everybody’s journey is different. Everybody! To a person, there is no roadmap. The only thing that you do is you learn from people around you. Just like you learn by listening to the podcast and taking Natasha’s course and meeting with your friend; you learn and absorb it all. Be a sponge, but be you, because that’s the key. You got to do you. And you’ve got to make sure that you keep that in the back of your mind. Comparison is the thief of joy. And it will also hold you back. I didn’t say that, somebody quoted that. Somebody much more famous than me. But I take no credit for it, only that I remembered it.
Jessica: You spouted it at the proper time.
Mike: I did. I did. But that’s the key. The key is, you can be inspired, but don’t compare yourself because that’ll stop you in your tracks, so I love that piece of advice. Love it. Love it. So listen, before we wrap up, where can people find you if they’re looking for you?
Jessica: You can find me on – I’m not as active on Instagram as I used to be. You know, social media is just a real trap for me. Sometimes I love it, sometimes I hate it. Sometimes if you want to read a great book, Digital Minimalism. There are times where I’m like, maybe I could be the one voice actor who doesn’t have social media accounts. I don’t know. But I go in phases. I’m on Instagram, jessicavo.com. My website is jessicavo.com. I’m on Facebook and most actively, I’m on LinkedIn right now. That’s probably my most active social media platform.
Mike: Good place to be active.
Jessica: Yeah, it’s a good place. I like it.
Mike: Yeah, it’s probably the best place to be active for sure. And I think we need to use that. I read a great article about how to make this phone that we carry around in us, this little computer, to don’t let that direct your life to make sure that you use that to help you but don’t have it control you. And I think the same can be said for social media. It can be a brain suck, or you can use it as a means to engage with people on a social level and also to promote the work that you do. So as long as you do that, I think you’ll be fine. Not you personally, but in general. You know what I mean, Jessica.
Jessica: Yes, I do.
Mike: Let me give you some advice, Jessica.
Jessica: Okay. I’m always open to advice.
Mike: Thank you. Thank you. So listen, it has been a pleasure to finally connect with you and have you on the podcast. I really appreciate you sharing your journey with me and my listeners, and I wish you continued success on your journey.
Jessica: Thanks, Mike. You too. I really appreciate it.
Outro: Thank you so much for joining me today on the Mike Lenz VO podcast. Head on over to mikelenzvopodcast.com for links and recaps of each show. Catch you next time on the Mike Lenz VO Podcast.
Jessica was honored to be named one of the Top 20 Voice Talent Worldwide by Voquent in 2021. She shares what her favorite project of the year was and why – during the year that changed all of our lives.
An interview with Jessica Taylor, Voiceover Artist, about work/life balance in the context of having three sons with very busy lives, how she sees voiceover fitting into the context of a larger production and the ultimate irony of a voiceover career.