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Kelly Moscinski became the owner and head of casting at the Voicecaster, she had plans to become a psychiatrist. But while enrolled as a pre-med student at college, she discovered the theater department and, in her own words, “I knew my passions and my career path were shifting.” She swiftly changed her major to theater with a focus on directing, where she first began experiencing the world of voice acting through various productions and helping actor friends. She moved to Los Angeles in 2009, open to several different career paths (she sent out over 350 letters and resumes) and was eventually hired at the Voicecaster as a casting assistant.
Within a year, Moscinski was a full-time VO casting director, audio engineer and demo producer. Then, in 2013, the owner came to her to say he was retiring and asked Moscinski to take over the company. “I said of course; less than 30 days later I took over,” reveals Moscinski. “And the rest is history.”
Established in 1975, the Voicecaster is the oldest VO casting house in the U.S. and Moscinski has continued its legacy. In addition to casting all types of mediums, the Voicecaster offers a variety of workshops and seminars for all levels of experience. They also offer a state-of-the-art recording studio for all actors’ needs and virtual workout groups. I spoke with Moscinski, prior to the SAG-AFTRA strike, about the specific art of voice acting.
If someone was interested in getting into voice acting, what would you want them to know?
Something I often hear is, “I was told I have a great voice and should get into voiceover.” That’s great, but VO isn’t really about the voice. It’s about HOW you use your voice and what you can do with it. It’s called voice acting and you still have to be an actor first and foremost. I’ve heard some incredibly distinct, unique, interesting voices — but if they don’t know how to use that voice, it doesn’t matter. I’ve also heard countless plain, regular, generic voices from people who know what to do with them and they are much more successful. Ultimately, it’s not the voice that matters, it’s what you can do with it. Get the training. Learn your instrument. And you’ll be much more successful.
What are some of the common misconceptions about voice acting?
Not needing to prepare. Yes, you can read the script and you do not need to memorize anything. However, you cannot sound like you’re reading. You need to pull the words off the page and it needs to sound like they are your words, coming from you, and naturally. At the minimum, you’ll want to read over the script a few times and work out any parts that might pose as tongue twisters for you. The trick is not to over-rehearse to a point where we can’t direct you. I also encourage researching the project you’re auditioning for. Look at their past work and see the styles. However, don’t let that get you stuck. If you hear previous voices/styles, you might be tempted to try to do something similar. If they wanted that, they’d most likely hire that person again. So they are looking for a new voice. Always be yourself! Know the product, know what they do, know their style. Then just be you.
What about the idea that you can just work from home and show up in your pajamas?
Not always true. Sure, that can happen from time to time. The client may prefer to record from the actor’s professional home studio, and they may just record via Source Connect or video conference with no video needed, so you can dress any way you’d like. However, we do have many clients who prefer to record talent live in the studio, so we want talent to be prepared for in-person in-studio sessions as well. You don’t necessarily need to dress up, but what you wear and how you present yourself does make a difference in professionalism and how you’re viewed. I tend to respect people more who come to work and look like they care and put in the effort to be professional — whether that’s in studio with us or via video call for a directed session. So, it does make a difference.
What have been some of your favorite projects you’ve worked on over the years?
I’ve worked on so many great projects over the years, it’s so hard to choose! Honestly, one that is near and dear to my heart was a project for the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation that we donated our time to cast. Everyone involved worked from the kindness of their heart and was simply paid in gratitude and knowing we were making a difference in the lives of those affected. It spanned several months and multiple different characters for videos that would be shared in the hospitals for kids going through various cancer treatments. The videos were used to explain the procedures they’d be having, etc. It was a fun project to create and bring the characters to life, but was even more special knowing that we’d be making a difference for those children and their families. It’s a project that has always stuck with me.
Are there other success stories you’re particularly proud of?
I have several students who have gone on to become very successful in voiceover and now work full time! One of my favorite things is when one of my students comes to tell me they quit their “survival job” and are now working full time in voiceover. There’s a sense of pride. Some thank me for their success; but I’m just thankful to have gotten to be able to help shape them and be just a small piece of the voiceover journey. I can’t help someone who’s not willing to put in the work themselves. That’s one of the things I love about the voiceover industry — it’s all about collaboration and all of us working together to create.
Where are some of the places you find VO talent?
Over the years, I’ve done many various things to seek out talent. I’ve been to comedy clubs, plays, musicals, etc. to see what kind of talent is out there. I’ve been invited to run workshops in various places at various studios, so I’ve also found talent around the country through those avenues as well. One client wanted talent to sound so “real” they asked me to bring a microphone to the mall and have random people read their commercial copy. Not something I recommend since there’s still acting involved and getting non-actors loses that aspect; but we’ll always try anything once!
If someone is interested in pursuing a VO career, where would you recommend they start?
Training! Get the training, get to know your voice, learn how to use it, and you’ll find your success that way. Also, don’t feel like you need to “put on” different voices. Almost every successful voice actor uses their natural voice regularly. It’s not just about characters and affecting your voice. Your natural voice, even if you don’t do any other different voices, is your key to success. Learn about it and use it.
Can you tell me more about Voicecaster’s workshops and classes?
The Voicecaster offers workshops at all levels. We offer Level 1 & 2 in Commercials. A Level 3 Beyond Commercials class where we explore all of the various categories of VO. [There’s] Intro and Intermediate Animation and Video Games. Plus, a one-day Animation Intensive. And a business seminar about how to market yourself and get representation. Our team of casting directors also offer private coaching. Our workshops are offered online so they are open to talent in any location.
Once you have the training, the next big step is a commercial VO demo reel. This will be your calling card. I highly recommend you have it professionally produced. Don’t do it yourself! Unless you’re an audio engineer and know how to make each segment sound like it was a real spot, it just won’t sound professional. With the professional demo, you’ll be ready to submit to casting directors and agents for representation.
I know it’s a big investment to get the training and the demos, but it’s worth it. I’ve seen people take shortcuts and end up losing time and money because of it. Go through the proper steps and you’ll find your success.
This interview was conducted before the SAG-AFTRA strike began.
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