As you have probably guessed, Mary Kay received several tons of e-mail every single day; well probably not several tons. Anyhow, she read each and every one of your terrific letters. Thank you very much for all of your interest, support and kindness.

Although Mary Kay tried to personally answer as many messages as possible, the effort to write individual responses to the incredible volume of incoming mail had gotten far beyond the limits of her time and resources. She compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions from her e-mail messages, and provided answers to those questions.

You may click any of the links below to jump to a particular question or just keep scrolling to read them all:

How do I get into voice work?

How do I make a demo tape? What do I put on it?

How do I get an agent?

If I send you my demo tape, could you listen to it?

Can you suggest a school or teacher for voice work?

Do you have to move to Los Angeles to do voice over work?

Is this a tough field to get into?

Does it pay well?

How long have you been in the business?

Is this something you've always known you wanted to do?

Could you pass on a script to South Park, Disney, Warner Brothers, etc...?

Can you give me Matt & Trey's E-Mail Addresses?

What are Matt & Trey like? How are they to work with?

Are there any classes available for looping/walla/adr?

Q: How do I get into voice work?

It's like any other type of acting; you need to have an agent who represents you and gets you out on auditions. Plus you'll need a DYNAMITE demo tape in order to get a decent agent. My advice to anyone who is serious about learning the business is to take several voice over workshops with reputable teachers first before you even think about making a demo. Taking classes will let you know if you really are suited to this business. Also, quality demo tapes are not cheap to produce, so you want to make sure this is the business for you before going to the expense.


Q: How do I make a demo tape? What do I put on it?

Agents tend to remember a poorly made or amateurish demo, so even if you do another one later, they might just "round file" it. Never put anything on your tape you can't do standing on your head in a raging windstorm; the pressure can be intense in audition situations. Never announce your name to open the tape - your tape should sound like real sound bites from commercials (if that's what you're marketing for) or cartoons (if that's what you're marketing for) or narration (if that's what you're marketing for)... you get the idea. It's very helpful if you can listen to actual professional demo tapes; this is usually offered in good classes. A commercial demo's ideal running time is between one and two minutes, tops; for cartoons, between two and three minutes. Narration can be a little longer, but keep it under four minutes total.

Never make your demo yourself at home; go to a professional it's worth the money you'll spend to have sound effects and music and proper editing. Just be sure whoever you go to doesn't overpower your voice with all the effects and music. Always ask to hear some tapes they have produced; if you don't like what you hear, run to the exit and go elsewhere. You only get one chance at a first impression.


Q: How do I get an agent?

You can contact SAG or AFTRA (the actor's unions) for a list of franchised agents in your town and send tapes with a brief note. Whatever you do, don't make a pest of yourself.

A note about scams:
Reputable agents never ask you to pay for services or insist you use a specific studio to make a demo tape. Usually, whenever you're asked for money up front, that is a red flag it may be a scam.


Q: If I send you my demo tape, could you listen to it?

Unfortunately, no. I used to love to help upcoming talent, then my schedule got to the point where I could only listen and critique the tapes of my own students - now the demands on my time have gotten so great that I've had to give up teaching altogether. My best advice is to take workshops with a professional whose talent and opinion you respect and follow their advice.


Q: Can you suggest a school or teacher for voice work?

I've only trained in the LA area, so that's the only market I can really say anything about. As I don't want to slight any of the marvelous teachers who are out there, I can only speak from personal experience. When I first started out, my original teachers were Kat Lehman (I don't have a current number for her), Lou Hunt (818) 763-4260, Susan Blu (818) 783-9130, Andrea Romano (who's not teaching currently) and I also took classes at the Voicecaster (818) 841-5300.

Acting is a matter of craft and each of these teachers taught valuable lessons I still use to this day. In recent years, there are more classes and workshops being taught by talented professionals - unfortunately, I don't know of any one source for contact numbers and info, but I do know the information is out there. In the meantime, I also recommend Kalmenson and Kalmenson (818) 342-6499 (they were the folks I taught for). I can't stress the value of training enough, as I wholeheartedly believe I owe my career to Kat, Lou, Susan, Andrea, and the good folks at the Voicecaster.


Q: Do you have to move to Los Angeles to do voice over work?

Not necessarily - but it all depends on what type of work you want to seek. Largely, if you're interested in animation, LA is still the place (of course, there's Canada, but you have to be a Canadian citizen or a major celebrity to work there).


Q: Is this a tough field to get into?

Yes indeed. It's very competitive - which is why proper training and an exceptional demo tape are so important. It's just like any other type of acting - you need an agent who believes in you and sends you out on auditions. It took me about 2 years of study before I made my first demo tape; it took me about 6 months to actually make my first demo tape; it took me about 7 years to get enough work from voice overs alone so that I could give up my part-time job; in other words, DON'T RUSH THE PROCESS - believe me, there's no such thing as an "overnight success!" If you HAVE to do this, and love it, and want it - GO FOR IT! This business can crush your spirit if you let it, but if you give yourself the time, who knows where it could lead you?


Q: Does it pay well?

It can - with talent and luck on your side. Like any other area of acting, from carrying a spear on stage to being a movie star, you might make enough to barely get by (or not) or you may become a millionaire. The performing arts aren't a business to get into just to make money - you have to do it because you love it - and I do!


Q: How long have you been in the business?

It will be thirteen years in July ('99). My first job was a radio commercial for a small home security company on a local radio station back in 1986. I was just awful, but hey - it was a start and it gave me the confidence to keep going.


Q: Is this something you've always known you wanted to do?

Yes and no... I wasn't aware there was an entire field of acting utilizing your voice until I found my first voice over teacher. I always could do unusual things with my voice - I've known I wanted to act since I was about two or so. My idols were people like Carol Burnett, Gilda Radner, Tracey Ullman, Lucille Ball - in short, comedic actresses who had chameleon-like qualities.


Q: Could you pass on a script to South Park, Disney, Warner Brothers, etc...?

I understand - it's a tough business to crack and everyone wants to get a foot in the door. However, even on a "laid-back" show like South Park there are still protocols you have to follow regarding unsolicited scripts. Although there are some shows, like the various Star Treks for example, that will accept unsolicited material, most have strict policies against it for legal reasons. While there's no denying a script written by my own husband (who is a writer) might get preferential treatment because of my connection to the show, the submission would still have to come from his agent.


Q: Can you give me Matt & Trey's E-Mail Addresses?

Sorry - even if I knew, Comedy Central wouldn't let me. Their official word is you can send any fan mail or queries through their official site at mail@comedycentral.com.


Q: What are Matt & Trey like? How are they to work with?

Fun.


Q: Are there any classes available for looping/walla/adr?

I know of only one currently being offered in the greater Los Angeles area and it's run by a very reputable and well-known loop group called L.A. maddogs. (they've done work on such feature films as "Titanic," "The Thin Red Line" And "She's All That"). For more info call (818) 988-0451.


Mary Kay's photo can be found on the Voicechasers.org site (on the Toontalk page) along with an interview from January 1999.

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