How did you get started as a voiceover talent and what are you both up to now in the VO world?
Nic – By accident! Someone in London needed a Northern Irish voiceover and asked me to go along and do it, so I did and never looked back.
Leah – I guess for me it was an accident too…
All I’d ever wanted was to act, but I was becoming more and more obsessed with the voice bits of it. Then about ten years ago I realised there was this whole extra career in voiceover that existed so I spent a few years practising under a duvet and telling people I was a voiceover until they started believing me…
What was your first gig? Any memorable ones since then?
I found my first job on Gumtree about ten years ago… This enthusiastic older gentleman was making a very niche podcast involving some Finnish song lyrics in a Welsh accent, which I was entirely unqualified to record.
Nic – That’s a very different origin story to mine! My first job was some narration for an in-surgery TV screen that gave patients information on medical things, it was an extremely serious business
Leah – It’s quite a nice reflection of how varied the job is isn’t it! One minute you’re recording cleaning instructions for an industrial fridge, then you’re right into a sexy voiced TV commercial for chocolate.
What did it feel like the first time you heard your voice on the radio or television?
Leah – I read the news on the radio a lot so I was already quite used to the sound of my own voice, but that chocolate commercial was probably the most exciting hearing-myself experience…. It had been such a quick, three-takes session – then the whole country heard it and it got nominated for an award! I also think of myself as quite an awkward person, so it was nice hearing myself in a way that’s so different from the way I see myself.
Nic – I actually don’t really hear myself live much as it all goes back to Ireland and I live in England! But I do often have family calling me saying they heard me in various places, which is fun.
We know you also produce and host the “The VO Social” podcast together – What’s your typical day like trying to juggle voiceover and producing your own podcast?
Leah – I’m essentially the producer as well as being the co-host, so I record most of the content and then bring Nic in to sprinkle her knowledge and jokes all over it. Then she goes back to voice coaching and I lock myself away to edit like some sort of anxious podcast gremlin. It does take a huge amount of time, especially once you factor in all the other stuff – social media, newsletters, commercial content etc – I guess I’m very heavily dependent on lists, and that gets me through!
Your podcast has developed a really solid following; that requires a lot of dedication, and I think that people looking to build their own podcasts may not fully understand that when they start out. What were some of the misconceptions you had about podcasting when you both first started out?
Leah – That’s actually quite a hard question to answer, because we didn’t really think of ourselves as a podcast when we started out. We were just using audio as another medium to convince the voiceovers of the North of England to come and meet us in the pub! I suppose the answer to the question, though, is that I didn’t know how much our podcast would depend on the community around it. The responses from VO Socialites to our requests for opinions and experiences make the podcast into a very immediate reflection of modern UK VO life.
Do you find the podcast has evolved with its listeners? How do you gage what you think listeners will be interested in hearing?
Leah – We are making the podcast we would want to listen to, and as we’re working voiceovers ourselves we do find that naturally reflects the zeitgeist… but more than that, we take things a step further than most podcasts. We aren’t just a long form interview depository, although there’s absolutely a place for that of course. What we put together instead is a carefully curated mix of detailed investigations, problem solving, round table discussion and expert input with an overarching policy of being “not boring”. We take topics that might be of interest to voiceovers, and work it up into something that definitely will be.
If you weren’t doing voiceovers or podcasting, what else do you think you’d be doing for a career?
Nic – Well I’m also a voice and accent coach so I would probably just be doing that; helping others with their voices rather than using mine so explicitly. And if I wasn’t doing that I’d probably still be doing stand up comedy in a dingy pub somewhere.
Leah – And I do also work in audio drama production, so maybe more of that? Actually, what am I saying?? Cooking. I’d be cooking all day long. In fact, stuff this interview flimflam, I’m off to braise something.
Can you offer 3 helpful tips for newbies trying to make it in the voice-over industry? What about the podcast industry?
Nic – For voiceovers, I think the key things are to learn how to look after your voice and don’t take it for granted! Also, don’t try to be anyone else – it’s exhausting and useless to compare your skills or career trajectory to other people’s. Instead, understand exactly what you can offer and be the best at that.
Leah – and maybe a third one could be; be aware that this is a long game you’re playing. Building up your business to the point where you have regular clients and a consistent income can take ages. Then as far as podcasting is concerned, just thinking “I’d like to make a podcast” is meaningless unless you have an audience in mind, so think about who you’re making your podcast FOR and give them reason to listen. Then, from what I’ve seen other people go through – don’t start a weekly podcast unless it’s going to be a limited series with built in breaks, you’ll drive yourself mad, you’ll end up sacrificing quality for consistency and you’ll never have any free time ever again. And then finally, have a funny, ridiculously knowledgeable woman called Nic Redman as your co-host. Actually don’t, she’s mine! I only have two tips. Forget that last one.
Who do you look up to in the industry/your business mentors?
Nic – Each other I think. Leah keeps me on my toes and striving to be better. And my peers generally. I’m constantly inspired by the people who are just out there plugging away at their careers day to day, making it work.
And, now on a more serious note….!
If you had a choice between two superpowers, being invisible or flying, which would you choose, and why?
Leah – This is a very surprising scenario! Well, first of all, thank you so much for the opportunity… but I think I’m much more interested in finding out about the person giving me the choice – who they are, how they ended up with the capacity to hand out superpowers and how the job was going so far…
You’ve been given an elephant. You can’t give it away or sell it. What would you do with the elephant?
Nic – Teach it to lip trill!
To check out Leah and Nic’s multi-award nominated podcast, visit https://www.thevosocial.com