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Voice over Meetups & Mantras

Four years ago, I started a little local meetup group, Upstate Voice Actors, that enabled me to get out of the house and chat with like minded VO people, many that are starting out in the business. It’s been a consistent part of my VO life.

2020 will, without doubt, enter the history books for many reasons. This year has brought about so much change and disruption. One of the things that changed was that this Voice Acting meetup moved from its regular monthly venue at Coffee Underground, Greenville to a virtual space on zoom. It’s continued to provide a space for local VO to meet and chat. In fact, we’ve been delighted to welcome a few talent from further afield!

We just had out final Christmas Meetup of the year and there were a couple of things that arose from it that I wanted to share. We looked back over 2020 and sought out positive moments or themes that we could take into 2021. One of the key themes was that so many were grateful for the support and generosity of family, friends and colleagues.

Whilst VO is often a solitary business, the camaraderie between talent is often noted, and this year it perhaps been highlighted as more important than ever.

There was also a thankfulness that our industry has been able to weather 2020’s storm more robustly than other areas of the entertainment business and that 2021 will provide further opportunities. To take advantage of these, one of my mantras, which I again re-iterated to my Meetup Group last week are:

To be respected as a professional, we must act like a professional

These are, by and large, simple things we can do to set ourselves apart

  • Turn up on time

  • Say please and thank you

  • Be able to read/see your script clearly

  • Be prepared (well hydrated and rested, read and practice the script in advance) Be able to reproduce consistently what you produced on your demo or custom audition

  • Avoid noisy clothes or jewellery when recording

  • Label your files correctly

Following these can help garner one’s reputation as a solid and dependable VO artist. These might seem like small things but can give one stand out appeal in what is already a crowded and competitive marketplace. I’m proud that locally the talent I know and meet with regularly, do consistently try to follow these guidelines. And last week I reminded them that this puts them further along the road than they realize.

Stepping off my soapbox and back to Christmas. We had a jolly time identifying some of the less well-known Christmas customs from around the world.

Here are a few, some steeped in local culture and folklore, some created more recently:

What is Santa’s post code in UK? SAN TA1 and in Canada? H0H 0H0. (Ho-Ho-Ho)

What do they hide in Norway on Christmas Eve? Brooms because they believe the witches come out then & might take them for a ride.

What cartoon character is a Christmas Eve staple in Sweden? Donald Duck (started in 1959 when there were very few channels)

What activity do they like to do in Caracas Venezuela on Christmas Eve? Roller skate to church

Most popular meal for Christmas Eve in Japan (even though Christmas isn’t an official holiday there)? KFC (They started a campaign in the 1970s called KENTUCKY for Christmas and it has worked ever since) \

What is a popular Christmas ornament in Ukraine/Poland? Spider web because of folklore of the Legend of the Christmas Spider. A poor family's tree was covered in spider webs and when they woke up the next morning, the spider webs had turned to silver and gold.

What is the icelandic Yule Cat? A ferocious creature that wanders around during the wintertime and eats anyone who hasn't gotten new clothes to wear on Christmas Eve.

There are various social Voiceover groups on both Facebook & Meetup. Most of free or with a minimal membership, so why not give yourself the gift of a VO social to look forward to?

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