Why is he crying again? Is there something wrong with this kid? Every time he hears “Happy Birthday to You” or the “National Anthem”, he cries. I don’t know. Maybe he’s just overly sensitive. This was me as a kid. For some reason, music had a profound emotional effect on me. In fact, it still does. But it was more than that. These are the seeds of my lifelong journey to voice over.
Music has an impact on many people, but for me, it was sound in general. Sounds, music, the human voice. As a child I would try to mimic family members and both the sounds and voices I heard on Saturday morning cartoons. To this day I still make a lot of silly noises! I was fascinated by impressionists like Frank Gorshin and Rich Little. I wanted to do the same thing they did. Back then I recall a show that gave viewers a behind the scenes look at how movies were made. This is the first exposure I had to a foley stage. I thought to myself “what a great job that would be.” But of course, I was just a kid, and I couldn’t fathom how anyone could become a foley stage artist.
I can’t really explain it, but I was always interested in accents and languages. I took both Italian and Spanish in high school. I would try to speak in different accents. Short of being an entertainer, none of these interests were marketable skills. What could a kid who grew up in the 70’s and 80’s possibly do with accents, impressions, and silly noises. Plus, my parents wanted me to go to college and get a good job. Can’t make a living on silly noises. So that’s what I did. I graduated with a computer science degree and began my career as a software developer.
When you are in your twenties and just starting out, you put a lot of time and effort into your job, and I was no different. A career in voice over was the furthest thing from my mind. I was busy with my career, meeting new people, and making a pretty decent living. Still, my interest in sound was always with me. Through the years at various jobs I would mimic coworkers. This was always good for a laugh. I really can’t recall why, but at some point, I started to look into voice over again as a possible career choice. I believe it was the late 90’s. Amazon was probably only selling books at that time! I ordered “There’s Money Where Your Mouth Is” by Elaine A. Clark. I read through it. Certainly, there was no lightbulb moment. No fire instantly lit up within me motivating me to drop whatever it was I was doing at the time and pursue voice over with a relentless fury. More like interesting, duly noted, and boy I would like to do that someday.
In 2001 I got married and then children came. Life as they say gets very busy. Even if I wanted to do something different with my life, this was certainly no time to do it. So, I put that little idea about being a voice over artist on the shelf for another decade.
At this point I was rapidly approaching my late 40’s. As far as my career was concerned, I was passed the 25 year mark and I was beginning to get tired of what I was doing. I had been laid off a couple of times and started to realize that working for other people came with certain risks. Even if you were doing a good job, you could be let go at any time with little or no warning. The corporate way of life was wearing on me. The constant scrutiny, the mid and end of year reviews where you have to justify your existence. Plus, the software field moves at an unbelievably rapid pace. A tool, language, or technique that is lauded as the greatest thing on Earth is considered outdated in months. Frankly, I couldn’t keep up with it anymore. I was getting frustrated and burnt out.
In 2015 I was working in NYC and a coworker of mine had mentioned that his roommate was trying to set himself up to do voice over work. Specifically, cartoon characters. He said he was having a hard time and found it was expensive to buy all the equipment and prepare a space. This right here was my ah ha moment. What were the odds that at this point in my life, out of the clear blue, someone would mention voice over to me? I literally took it as a sign.
I was in the city anyway, so I began to research voice over training studios in NYC. What I found was Edge Studio. Edge is one of the top five voice over training and recording studios in the country. And lucky for me, they offered an intro to voice over workshop. In this class, I would be assessed to see if I could make a go of a career in voice over. The class was a lot of fun and definitely took me out of my comfort zone. In the end, it was determined that I was capable of being trained for voice over. Although I didn’t have an endless supply of money at the time, I felt like I had enough to do this the right way. Make a real concerted effort and not cut corners. Plus, I had the luxury of time. I was still working and bringing in money. If I ever got to the point where I could support myself from voice over, I would figure out a way to pull the plug on one career and transition to the other.
So here it is five years later in 2020. Am I a professional voice over artist yet? Definitely not. But I have made huge strides. I finished training for my commercial demo and then had it recorded and produced by Edge Studio. I have my website and social media accounts all up and running. I’ve had headshots taken, bought equipment, and set up a recording space. The most satisfying part of all of this for me has been working towards a goal. Something I have been pondering since I was a kid. And along the way I have met some great people and experienced things that I didn’t think I was capable of.
In a world of instant gratification, we must keep in mind that true success does not come overnight. Building a business and changing your life takes time, effort, patience, and most definitely perseverance. I do not plan on giving up on this dream and will keep working until I can call myself a professional voice over artist. The journey continues.
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