This post is the third in the series of interviews I’m conducting with people I think you need to meet, people who have valuable and important advice and comments about voiceover work.
Weâ€™re talking this time with DB Cooper because she is one of the people not only working as a voiceover talent, but also making a significant contribution to the voiceover world. More about that toward the end of our interview. DB is a very talented lady. (You can listen to her demos here to see what I mean.)
My first question for DB: Did the idea of “being one of those voices” you heard on TV or at the movies start when you were small? Or did that develop later in life?
DB: I don’t think I thought about “being one of those voices”. I just always was a performer of sorts and always, always wanted to do something with cartoonsâ€”I was in Kindergarten when I started telling people I wanted to be a cartoonist when I grew up. Not PC for the early ’60s believe me! But my parents were cool– Jazz cool–and they were right behind whatever I wanted to do.
My second question for DB: As an adult, actually doing some of what you’d previously dreamed about, what do you get the most delight from?
DB: Working as a peer with people who were once my heroes.
Third question: What has been the biggest surprise to you about working in the voiceover field? That is, given that everyone has expectations about how things will be, what is the most different from your expectations?
DB: That no matter how high you get in this business, incompetence and inefficiency still rule the day. I work for CBS Radio in Boston, and the hardest thing I have to contend with is the same kind of overwritten commercial copy as I did at the small radio stations of my youth.
Fourth question: Is there anything that you’ve had to struggle to get rid of, overcome or otherwise learn to work around in the way you speak? (Regional accent? Stutter? Anything like that?)
DB: I have a cumbersome “s” that shows up every once in a while. Otherwise, my smart-alec attitude was the thing that needed the most wrangling. Thank goodness I’ve got that under control.
Fifth question: Do you prefer to be in the spotlight? Or somewhere in the background?
DB: Honestly–it depends on the production. I’ve been a stage director and producer as well as an actor, so I enjoy all facets of putting up a creative project. I enjoy excelling to my utmost no matter what I’m working on: teaching, voiceacting, web design, whatever.
Sixth question: How do you define success in your approach to voiceover?
DB: Success comes from yes answers to:
are you working?
are you making enough money to SAVE some money?
are you happy?
The Trifecta = success.
Seventh question: How do you handle rejection?
DB: What rejection?
Eighth question: For someone living in New York or LA, auditioning in person at an agent’s or casting director’s office is still very common. Your thoughts about auditions? Are auditions a big part of your efforts to find work?
DB: Oh heck yeah. I get auditions from disparate sources all the time. I knock myself out to be the best person for the part, send ’em to the requester and forget about ’em. The most interesting audition will make me say “If they don’t cast me, they’re crazy!” before I send it and forget about it.
Ninth question: What has worked for you in finding voiceover work? Are there anything approaches that you won’t try again?
DB: Pleasant persistence has a way of working. My job at CBS took 5 years to get. I just expected to have it, so I kept reminding the PD I was an asset. Honestly–the best thing I have learned is that it pays to be a nice guy.
As for stuff I wouldn’t try again–I can’t tell you. If I ever did something so dunderheaded that I’d never do it again in the search for work, I was probably so traumatized that it’s been wiped out of my memory.
You know, when people ask me how to “get into voice over” I tell them “I can tell you what I did, but it won’t do you any good.” Many of the avenues I took to get to where I am don’t exist any more–the small radio stations with a full air staff, for instance.
Tenth question: Can you give us a bit of history about the VO-BB.COM? I’ve read almost the entire archives of the site so I know there was a BB of some kind of which you had previously been a part. To the degree you’re comfortable, please talk about what happened?
DB: There was a message board I found out about from a colleague back in the 90’s called The Voiceover CyberStation at VoiceArtist.com. Some very lively conversation and bright correspondents. Had a mostly absent master of the keys, but he did ask for help with a makeover of the site in late 2003, and I offered my hand. He and I had a good deal of correspondence, but the revamping plans died on the vine a couple of times. Then the domain expired and the board went down in late 2004. Nobody could get ahold of the Webmaster, and so many people wrote to me asking what was going on, that I made up this board, VO-BB.COM. I wrote back to folks saying we could give this new venue a try, tell your friends, etc and wow–look what has happened. I honestly don’t have a clue under the sun how people find us, but they do, so it’s growing.
My thanks to DB Cooper for taking time out of her very hectic schedule to answer these questions.
And here’s my answer to that last question from DB. I first found a link to the VO-BB.COM while I was browsing through Connie Terwilliger’s site. At the time I was searching for articles to which I could link from this blog, and Connie has a number of useful suggestions and ideas. When I saw a link to something called the VO-BB.COM, my eyes lit up and I’ve been a regular pest there every since.