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Joan Baker coaches a voice talent in a packed house at her "Secrets of Voice Over Success" celebrity event Wednesday in New York City. (Ron Levine photo)
Joan Baker & Celebrities Rocked The Stage
In New York City For Voice-Over Success
July 31, 2009
By John Florian
Photos in story by Ron Levine
Voice Actor
Joan Baker and her celebrity panel packed the house and rocked it Wednesday night (July 29) - with how-to advice, wit and inspiration to voice-over newbies, wannabes and working pros – at Baker’s Secrets Of VoiceOver Success event at the plush TimesCenter Stage in New York City.
Among eager newcomers: Al Hunt, a New York City cop with his first demo in hand in a front row seat, and Manuel Rivera, who also recently cut a first demo – all in English, but next stop is the bilingual market.
Many others, like Amy Harrell, author of I’m Here, Now What? An Artist’s Survival Guide to NYC! have been "thinking about” the voice-over field for several years and were eager to learn more.
But working pros also attended – to see and hear the celebrities, meet up with friends – and, like voice actor Ron Graywolf Levine, to support Baker’s fundraising for the Alzheimer’s Association.
Proceeds from the event went to the Association, as does the income from Baker’s popular book, Secrets of VoiceOver Success. Baker’s father died from the disease.
Panelists fielded questions about voice-over from moderator Alan Kalter, at right.
Baker - the charismatic and buoyant voice talent, coach and author - shaped the event in the style of the Secrets book, which is a compilation of career advice and experiences from voice-over industry stars.
Alan Kalter, the well-known on-camera announcer for the Late Show with David Letterman, moderated the panel, comfortably posing questions about breaking into and succeeding in voice-overs.
The wisdom included:
  • Being told you have a "great voice” is a good start – but training, marketing and business skills are essential to success.
  • Don’t quit your "day job” while training to learn the craft.
  • Success requires persistence as well as talent.
  • Different genres – promos, audiobooks, commercials – require different skills.
  • Voice-overs are not about reading scripts – they’re about voice acting.
Voice actor Jim Dale (pictured) – narrator of the Harry Potter audiobooks – enchanted the audience with comedic advice about voice acting.
Actor Richard Thomas, the voice of Mercedes-Benz commercials, related his experiences, as did promo great Joe Cipriano, and voice actors Valerie Smaldone (also a voice-over coach), Rodd Houston, Frank Radice, and Maria Pappalardo.
Marketing pro Rudy Gaskin (pictured), who is partner with wife Joan Baker in Push Creative, added perspectives from the viewpoint of voice-seeking clients.
An instructive – and scary, for some – copy reading/coaching session with the celebrity panelists concluded the formal panel session of the event, and was followed by a reception, book signing and networking.
Cameras flashed throughout the night, of course, yielding this photo review (for which we greatly thank the contributing photographers noted in the captions) …
Panelists Rodd Houston, Joe Cipriano and Valerie Smaldone. (Ron Levine photo)
Lee Gordon and Liz de Nesnera
Wow! John Florian, Joan Baker and Rudy Gaskin
George Whittam, Christina D'Allesandro and Mark Stewart (photo courtesy Mark Stewart)
Joe Cipriano and Frank Rucco (photo courtesy Frank Rucco)
John Florian and David Kaplan
Ed Victor and Mark Stewart (photo courtesy Mark Stewart)
Heading home: John Florian, JC Haze, Liz de Nesnera, Lee Gordon and Ron Levine (Rodd Houston photo, courtesy Liz de Nesnera)
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