A SALUTE TO VO COACHES
I spent more than the first half of my voiceover career never having had one VO coaching session. Not one. I figured my clients and producers were my coaches. While there is some wisdom in letting your clients coach you to success, there are also some great disadvantages.
Letting your clients direct and coach you, coaches you to their standards. And while those standards may be good, they are nevertheless limited to their requirements.
Furthermore, your clients aren’t interested in discovering and developing your talent. They are simply interested in getting the VO that they need. Nothing wrong with that, but let’s face it: they don’t really have your best interests at heart.
A few years ago I decided that maybe now that I was making a fair living in this voiceover world, maybe I should try this VO coaching thing. I was at lunch with a fellow VO dog, Jon Specht, and he mentioned his coach, David Lyerly. I asked him to tell me more. And before the end of lunch, Jon agreed to introduce me to David.
A couple of weeks later we were connected and on the calendar for a couple of sessions a month.
I must tell you, that was one of the most career changing turn-of-events of my life.
David was/is brilliant, brazen, and brutal! And all class.
I’m one of those guys that likes clients and producers that know what they want. I don’t care if they are mouthy and harsh, as long as they know where they are going. And David was/is one of those guys. Not that he was mean. He most certainly wasn’t. But he didn’t let me get away with less than 100% either.
Some time later I somehow met Mary Lynn Wissner. I was looking for someone who could take me deeper into the narration and in-story VO. She is spot on for that sort of thing! She takes an actor’s approach to interpretation and has incredible insight to the discovery and nuances of copy. So…I started using Mary Lynn a couple of times a month.
A couple of years later, David decided to pursue another path in his career. WHAT??? And I needed to find someone to replace him. My dear friend and VO goddess Roberta Solomon, suggested Dave Walsh.
What a find!
I hate Dave like a brother. Dave is in LA. I’m in KC. If he called me tonite and said “I have a flat tire and need some help,” I would jump on the next plane. He’s the most honest, confrontational, real, frustrating, realistic, illuminating, instructional person I’ve ever known. And I look forward to his direction a couple of times a month.
In addition to Mary Lynn and Dave, through the genius offering of OpenCoaches.com, I’ve also started coaching with Joe Cipriano, J.J. Jergens, and Erik Sanchez. I gotta tell ya, having them in my stable has been a brilliant move on my part, if I may say so myself.
So, let’s assess. Dave Walsh and Mary Lynn Wissner a couple of times a month, Joe Cipriano, JJ Jergens and Erik Sanchez once a month. Yeah, I think I’m pretty well covered. And probably a little obsessive. But the results speak for themselves.
I say all of that for this: If you are a voiceover talent, you are selling yourself short if you don’t have a VO coach. Even if just once a month.