A life of learning … aka how I’ve learnt to become a fabulous voiceover gal

Learning. How good is it?

I started learning to act when I was about 10.a ten-year-old prima donna in her element

I’ve mentioned before that my illustrious stage career began in Year 4 in primary school when I performed the Skipping Rope Hornpipe while eating a Mars Bar.

(I found a photo of a different part of the show. That’s Emma next to me; she’s an amazing artist now.)

 

Shortly after that triumph, my lovely mum enrolled me for acting lessons with “Maxwell and Vayne“, a delightful couple from England who had clearly spent their entire lives on the stage.

Roy Maxwell was a classical Shakespearean, very British actor and he treated me like an adult who knew what I was doing even when I was saying things like “Banished! Romeo is banished!” as an 11-year-old. I have loved Shakespeare ever since. Constance Vayne was a former cabaret dancer and musical theatre singer who once demonstrated her risqué “appearing-out-of-a-giant-cake” act for us. Roy and Constance adored one another and adored teaching this odd bunch of Aussie kids how to be magnificent on stage.

I played Juliet, St Joan of Arc, and the Queen of the Night. I learnt how to read and understand a script and find a character’s motivation, intention and inner world. I learnt how to be brave and loud and even extremely silly – on stage in front of an audience.

I LOVED it.

So, I kept studying drama all through high school, went to holiday classes for teens at NIDA, and attended a small private arts college to do my theatre degree. It was an odd little university, but I had a couple of amazing acting and voice teachers there too.

I was a bit of a weirdo at that time, with control issues, and ended up graduating with a major in Stage Management. Because learning all the backstage stuff was new! More new skills, yay!

Fast forward about 17 years. Now I’m living in a little village in the country and there’s not much in the way of theatre or acting opportunities. We’re singing loudly in the car one day and my partner mentions something about voiceover from home studios….. naahhh I don’t know anything about that!

However, I DO know how to google stuff.

I learnt how many different kinds of voiceover there are, I learnt that some types need more acting ability than others, I learnt it has very little to do with the actual sound of your natural voice… and I learnt that people just about ANYWHERE were doing it from their own homes. All I had to learn next was how to treat a room acoustically and how to use audio recording equipment.

Hahahahaha, gotcha! So funny! NO. I had to learn A LOT more than that!

But, learn it I did, with plenty of pro-researcher-and-IT-guy help from my partner, and then lots of teaching and advice from fabulous coaches and colleagues like J Michael Collins, Deanna Cooney, Toby Ricketts, Sarah McLeod, Aimee Smith, Sarah Kennedy, Katie Leigh, Everett Oliver, Josh Alexander, Marc Scott, Roy B. Yokelson, Jordan Reynolds, Teresa Lim…. Oh dear, I’m bound to forget somebody. So many great people in the online voiceover community who have taught me so much!

I’m a full-time working voiceover gal now. I am still learning, every day, about voice acting sure, but also about running a business, accounting, marketing, technology, audio engineering, relaxation, vocal care, networking, video games, and more.

Here are the coolest things I’ve learnt:

 * I don’t know much.

There’s SO MUCH MORE to learn. Always.

 * Listen to people with experience.

(psst, you’ll know who to listen to because lots of people will recommend them!)

 * Don’t get jealous.

Envy isn’t nice and gets us nowhere. Celebrate others, and keep working hard.

 * Be teachable.

Lately I’ve had to put on my humble pants and work hard to learn new skills in my character animation voiceover lessons. It can be scary but that’s how you learn!

 * Have fun!

Nothing is worth spending all your time on if you don’t enjoy it. Have as much fun as you can!

A happy, fun voiceover gal.

So here I am in 2021. No more Skipping Rope Hornpipe (though I would totally be up for a reprise someday!), and I’m not playing Juliet on stage or starring in Hollywood films like I once thought I would.

I’m learning, at almost 40, to make a living by doing what I love with the opportunities I have. I’m having fun, being myself and being brave and honest in the process. I’m expressing my opinions. I’m using lots of exclamation marks and emojis. Even on LinkedIn!  😲

I’m learning to be a kick-arse voiceover artist.

Tell me what you’re learning. And how much fun it is! 😁

 

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6 comments… add one
  • Daniel Garlick Mar 12, 2021 @ 13:29

    Sumara
    You are spot on with this blog post. At almost 60, I have never stopped learning and continue to absorb as much as possible about my chosen craft. Like you, I also did a lot of acting early on and continued to dabble in it throughout my life. I waited until my late 20s before entering radio in a NSW country radio station but never looked back after that.
    You have it all in front of you. Go get it Sumara !!

    • Sumara Meers Mar 12, 2021 @ 14:08

      Thank you, Dan. 🙂
      I’d forgotten you were a country guy too! I bet country radio was a lot busier and more treasured 30 years ago than it is now.
      Thanks for the support!

  • Joshua Alexander Mar 13, 2021 @ 1:35

    I don’t know why, but I totally got stuck on “I was a bit of a weirdo at that time”. That gave me a hearty guffaw and if a hearty guffaw is the only thing you take away from this blog – it won’t be – then mission accomplished. We can ALL afford to be weirdos a bit more.

    Thank you for the honorable mention, my fabulous friend! You are an inspiration to me, and I hope that you never ever cry out “Banished! Joshua Alexander is banished!” That would be the end of me and I’d have to go live with goats. Or something.

    Keep kicking arse! 🙂

    • Sumara Meers Mar 14, 2021 @ 15:33

      I mean, I still am a bit of a weirdo. I have a little picture on my wall that reads “We are the weirdos, mister!”

      Always happy to inspire a good guffaw, thank you! 😂

  • Reece Mar 14, 2021 @ 11:15

    When you follow your dreams it really doesn’t matter when other people try to measure your success. Inspiring!

    • Sumara Meers Mar 14, 2021 @ 15:34

      So many dreams to follow. Next up: the Benedict Cumberbatch one! 😋

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