With voice over credits from brands like Ford, Belk, and Bi-Lo, Catherine Smith is an accomplished voice actress. In spite of her busy schedule, she found a few moments to share her background in the voice over industry.
1. How long have you been in the voiceover business and what got you started?
I’ve been doing voiceover work full-time for 9 years and part-time for another 5 years prior to that. I’m a big believer that this work finds you. I’m an actor by training and was doing a part-time, weekend air shift at the Charlotte NPR affiliate, when one of my listeners called to say they wanted me to do his company’s commercials….kismet!
2. How would you characterize your style, sound, or signature read?
One of my biggest strengths is my versatility – the spectrum runs from the sexy siren, to the mom-next-door to the commanding narrator. Currently, what is requested most often is my warm announcer read, but that can also change with market trends.
3. Have you had any interesting, unique, funny or scary experiences while voicing that you can recall?
What I love about my work is that it changes literally from script to script, so no two jobs are alike. The jobs you bomb on – thankfully few and far between – can torment you. I remember early on doing a medical narration where the script used every variation of the word pipette (this was before the days of dictionaries that VOICED the word for you). I had practiced the script with the stress on wrong syllable, so EVERY TIME the word came up in the script I hesitated. It remains my worst memory but it also taught me not to commit any pronunciation to memory if I can’t determine how to say it prior to a session. And to put the Merriam-Webster App on my iPhone.
4. Do you have any heroes, mentors or others in the business that you look up to or have influenced you?
Lisa Biggs and the wonderful group of women in Voxy Ladies are my friends, mentors and heroes. It’s rare and wonderful to have a smart, talented group of friends to bounce ideas off of, who are also thrilled at your successes and vice versa. I also learn something every day from the people I am fortunate to have representing me, along with the engineers. They are my rocks and best sounding boards.
5. What is the best advice you can offer people who are just getting started?
Be nice. Return phone calls and emails promptly. Take care of your body and your voice (and your clients) will thank you. Find tools that work for you. Instead of being fearful, turn that negative energy into positive action. And to post this list in your office to remind yourself every day, because when life gets hectic, it’s easy to forget. And laugh more!
Catherine Smith voice over for Farm Bureau Insurance
6. What would you be doing if you were not a voiceover talent?
If I thought my knees and ankles could handle it I’d be a ballroom dancer – you can thank Dancing with the Stars for that! That’s probably not in the cards, so my backup career is stage acting. Since clearly I need a backup for my backup plan, I’d return to the non-profit sector working with kids.
7. What is the most important thing you’ve learned since you started in this industry?
Don’t take it personally….most of the time in work and in life, IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU. Whether it’s somebody’s bad mood, a job you didn’t get, the phone isn’t ringing or pretty much anything else.
8. Is there anything you would like to add?
I also believe if it is your fault, you should take ownership and do what you can to fix it.
Catherine Smith voice over for Alerus