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Joan Baker - vivacious voice talent, trainer and author - receives the VOICE 2014 Community Award at the convention's Celebrity Banquet Saturday night. She was introduced by voice talent/trainer Pat Fraley (left), and award was presented by convention producers James Alburger and Penny Abshire. (John Florian photos)

VOICE 2014
VOICE 2014 Sends Us Home To Excel At VO;
Joan Baker Receives 2014 Community Award

September 2, 2014

By John Florian

VOICE 2014 convention take-aways:

Notebook crammed with how-to advice, challenges, inspiration ... top voice over pros and trainers there to help me - and ongoing ... friends, friends, friends ... 'Great to finally meet you in person!' ... too many places to be at the same time ... fun events, entertaining ... follow-up with coaches ... buy that recording booth or t-shirt? ... and mucho thanks to convention producers James Alburger and Penny Abshire (pictured).

This huge international convention of the voice over industry in Anaheim, CA (August 27-30) - near the entrance to land-of-dreams Disneyland - certainly was a whirl of learning, networking and fun.

And now we've brought it all home in a mental bundle of hope - and admit it, some chaos - to apply to our voice over careers.

Where to focus? Well, pick two or three of your most important new goals and post them on your forehead for the coming months.

And I'm going to bear in mind two recurring themes that are guiding my thoughts today:
  • the caring, give-back nature of voice actors and this industry, plus knowing that
  • we CAN break through personal and professional obstacles to excel at VO - with confidence!
Those themes ran through the convention. For instance  ...


To a standing ovation, vivacious voice talent-trainer-author Joan Baker was honored with the VOICE 2014 Community Award for Outstanding Service at the Celebrity Banquet (top photo).

She was introduced and brought to the stage by star voice talent/trainer Pat Fraley (pictured), who praised Baker as a coach who is able to immediately recognize a voice talent's holdups and potentials to guide them to a better performance. This knack likely springs, in part, from childhood.

In her acceptance speech, Baker mentioned challenges growing up and being a biracial child - for instance, the time a teacher who put a dunce cap on Joan and admonished other students: "Don't be like her." To which Joan would think, "If you knew me, you'd like me."

Indeed, to know Joan today is to like, feel her energy, and know the look of confidence.

Baker exemplifies give-back, too. All proceeds from her book, The Secrets of Voiceover Success, go to the Alzheimer's Foundation, as do a portion of the proceeds from That's Voiceover, the voice over learning and networking events produced by Baker and husband Rudy Gaskins.


Randy Thomas, the first woman to announce the Oscars, capped the convention's educational sessions on Saturday with lessons from her career - plus an insight into what propels her to achieve:

"Sadness in my early life empowered me to follow my dreams," she said.

Those dreams have led to announcing seven Academy Award (Oscar) shows and numerous Tony and Emmy productions, on top of a robust voice over career.

A downside of being a trailblazer for female voice talent? Thomas no longer gets all those jobs automatically. "I have to audition," she laughs.

Still, she eagerly shares advice, including:
  • "There is no such thing as failure - unless you fail to take the lesson."
  • "The audition is the job."
  • "Don't worry about what you can't do, just apply what you can in spades. Read something that scares you every day." And,
  • "If you can't handle 50 shades of rejection, get out now."

Fred Melamed, star of Lake Bell's 2013 hit voice over movie, In A World, revealed during the Celebrity Banquet interview that severe stage fright ended his early acting career after an 18-month run on Broadway.

Fortunately, acting at the microphone beckoned. And that's where Melamed remained for 20 years, based near New York City.

Today in Los Angeles his acting career has again blossomed with numerous film and TV roles - and continued love of acting at the microphone.


Debra Deyan (pictured at microphone with her staff) is a model of courage, tenacity and achieving goals.

She and husband Bob Deyan - who passed away just weeks ago from ALS - founded Deyan Audio, specializing in audiobook production and services, and recently opened the Deyan Institute of Voice Artistry and Techology

A convention focus, though, was promoting awareness of, and donations to, the ALS Association. And at the elegant open bar and savory food Garden Party sponsored by the Deyan Institute, Debra thanked attendees for their generous giving.

In addition to donations, many, many voice talents took the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge in recent weeks - and a hardy half dozen more were iced at the party itself.


Award-winning voice talent and coach Marc Cashman burst the laugh meter with "We're Auditioning for a Muse - Part IV" - an incredible collection of confusing directions that voice actors have received from directors.

The "Muse" title derives from a director who actually sought the voice of a moose for a project - but misspelled "moose" and admonished the "muse" to not mimic Bullwinkle.

Ah well. It was fitting to end with the director who wrote in circles about what he wanted the voice talent to do and then admitted: I don't know what I want. You do your job.

Yes, voice actors can know best.


In the end, no matter how much we learned at the convention, it's all for naught if we ignore Friday's command from motivational speaker Marshall Sylver: "Take action now."

And to Sylver, it's a matter of having confidence in ourselves.

"Confidence creates attractiveness," he said. "The more confident you are, the more people will be attracted to you."

Believe it. Believe in yourself and your talent.

Sylver: "What you believe to be true is true for you."
See also: VOICE 2014 Entertains, Educates & Enlivens Voice Actors As Convention Opens
Next: More VOICE 2014 activities and photo review

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Comments (1)
Pearl Hewitt
9/3/2014 at 12:25 PM
Great article John! Perfectly sums up what we learned from VOICE2014. It was a awesome event! Loved every second of it and learned so much too!
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