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Rachel Butera has been entertaining people with impressions, characters, and unique point of view since childhood. As a voiceover artist, she brings characters to life by drawing from years of imitating everyone she meets.

Where can we hear your voiceover now? I’m currently voicing commercial IDs for various stations, such as 93.1 WPOC, K-HOW, KTRH, KFAB, etc. Now the voice of the Toyota Big Prius Event commercial on TV and radio. The voice of Alexis on Fox’s Golan The Insatiable and other animation like Harvey Beaks on Nickelodeon, Turbo:FAST on Netflix, Dog With A Blog on the Disney channel, Trip Tank on Comedy Central and King Star King on Adult Swim. I’ve also narrated over 30 titles for Audible.com

What do you love about working as a freelance VO talent?

Working as a voiceover talent gives me two things – fun and freedom. If I want to go to my agency and record auditions, I can. If I feel like staying home, I can record from there. Voiceover also helps me remind myself that I have a very specific skill not everyone has and that many people would be grateful for. Getting in a booth is still a sacred experience for me every time and I feel privileged to get to do it.

 

How did you get started as a VO actor? What was your first gig?

Technically, my first gig was voice replacement for a character called Beverly Badgecicle on a cartoon called Viva Pinata. My friend Kristen Thorne worked at 4Kids in New York and needed to replace some dialogue of an actor that moved to LA. She knew I could do impressions and gave me an audition. I booked it. From there I began narrating for Audible.com, but there was no real VO career until… in 2010 I entered the Howard Stern Impression contest. I went on the air and competed against five male impressionists and I won $5,000. Then it began. Billy Serow, a voicover agent at Abrams in New York heard my appearance and called me the next day. They wanted to represent me. I started going on auditions, but didn’t book any commercials. I was a little worried they put the cart before the horse. But  then Jim Shaughnessey, a writer in LA heard me and needed a voice match for a cartoon he was working on for Sony Crackle called Effin With Tonight. He had Patrick Warburton on board and needed a Chaz Bono soundalike and someone who could imitate a Fillipino woman he knew. I was able to do both, so he asked me to come to LA. March 2011 I flew to LA for the first time and found myself in Titmouse Studio, recording with Patrick Warburton. After a meeting with VO agent Erik Seastrand at William Morris, who told me I needed to be out here for all the animation voices I could do, I decided to give it a go. And it’s been an amazing four years since!

 Have you ever had a voice coach?  Would you recommend it?   

I actually am a voice coach. I teach privately for animation and characters, and I’m also a coach for Edge Studio. Early on I took some classes at Edge Studio, and here in LA I take workshops all the time. It’s impossible to be objective to your own voice. Just as great actors need directors to help bring their performance to life, I feel good voice coaches can help produce more marketable reads. That said, I do believe one needs to have an inclination for using their voice. The misconception is, “I speak, I have a voice, therefore, I can do voiceover.” To be dead honest, not everyone can do this. For some people, all the coaching in the world won’t help. But for others who have a penchant for it, coaching will make all the difference in the world!

Who are your VO idols/mentors? Who influenced your work as a VO artist?

I have to say the regular people in my life in New Jersey were my greatest teachers. Such a rich array of characters that shaped me and helped me find my talent in this life. From the 2nd grade teacher who’d steal our snacks, to the loud-mouth guy that worked at my father’s deli, to Chuck the oil man, who’d come by for coffee and stay for three pieces of pie, I cut my teeth—or in this case, voice—on these people. Now that I’m immersed in the actual world of VO, I must say that Maria Bamford is one of the most incredible voices you will hear. I often get voice match auditions for her and it’s impossible to copy what she does. It’s off the charts brilliance. And of course Billy West, who can do ANYTHING! He was on the Howard Stern show throughout the ‘90s and definitely influenced me. But to me the pinnacle of VO actors is Mel Blanc. There wasn’t a voice he did in any cartoon that I didn’t run around the house trying to imitate. He was, is and always will be the best that ever lived. Although at the time, I didn’t know I was admiring a voiceover artist. I just wanted to be Yosemite Sam.

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What is your dream gig?

I always dreamed of being the female Howard Stern. I’d fantasize about having my own four-hour radio show where I get to voice my opinions, views and ideas and make people laugh. I had a podcast for a while called Rachel Profiling that I loved doing. Gotta start that up again. That, and I’d love to be the first female voice of a major network.

Can you offer 3 helpful tips for newbies trying to make it in the voice-over industry?

  1. Get some good, honest opinions from working pros about your potential. I have students that come to me with lisps or they sound like they’re talking through Halloween masks and they want to do VO. I don’t encourage those folks.
  2. Don’t expect to start working right away. Voiceover is seriously competitive and it takes time to make your way in this industry no matter how talented you are.
  3. Build relationships. “It’s all who you know is not a myth”—it’s reality. Mediocre talent with the right connections can go far. Find casting director workshops and ‘meet the agents’ nights. Meet people, don’t be shy. It’s like Samuel L. Jackson says in Pulp Fiction: Personality goes a long way.

How do you schedule/prioritize your work?

Simple—I record whatever is due first. If I get something from my agent and it’s due next day, I do that first. If there’s screaming involved, like in a video game, I save that for last. And I use a hand-written calendar. Phones break and fall in the toilet. I like to write by hand.

How much time do you spend auditioning for new work?

Several hours a day. The luxury of recording from home is you get to do it over and over until you’re happy. I record, listen and edit one piece at least three times. If it’s not due right away, I’ll read it, absorb it then wait a day to record it.

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What gear do you use (microphone, pre-amp, booth, etc)?

I have an AKG 214 mic, a Scarlett interface and a Focusrite pre-amp. All done from my closet-turned-booth. I took the futon cushion and lined the walls with it. My friend calls it “the vertical bedroom.”

What did it feel like the first time you heard your voice on the radio/television? It would probably be inappropriate to say that I still listen back to me on the Howard Stern Show and get tickled by it. It was miraculous! Me on the radio. On THAT radio show! I cried and laughed and listened on repeat. And sometimes, I still do.

Favorite TV show of all time?

The Larry Sanders Show

If you could invite one person to dinner, living or dead, who would it be (non-family)?

Non-family? Family are the last people I’d want to invite to dinner hahaa. Michael Fassbender. Santa Claus! I have so many questions for him.

What’s your professional wrestling name?

Andre Mars, which is a great one!

Biggest Pet Peeve?

People with their rescue dogs.

What’s your guilty pleasure?

Sex And The City reruns

 

 


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Scott Whyte spends hours in a recording studio, not recording music that he is known for with regular gigs in the beach cities, but bringing to life characters created for the animated or video game world. Since his busy career as a voice actor began, Whyte has played everything from a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle to a World War II soldier. Not even in the live action film world do most actors have that chance for diversity.

What voiceover have you done in the past?

I’ve been very lucky in my career thus far… everything from radio spots, tv spots, animation, video games, tv promos for networks. Worked with some of the biggest brands on the planet, along with being part of film and tv projects for some of the worlds largest production companies… I’ve been very lucky, and I feel im just getting warmed up!!

What are you up to presently?

Currently, due to non disclosure agreements, I cannot specifically say certain projects im currently working on.. but I can say, perhaps 5 video games, a disney animated series, a few radio and tv spots are currently airing featuring my voice… again, I’ve been lucky, but I put lotsa time and love into this business.

 

Have you ever had a voice coach? Would you recommend it?

I’ve worked with a few great singing coaches, including an amazing singer/ vocal coach Lee Anthony Lontoc in Los Angeles. Lee helped me understand my voice, strengthen my technique, and has helped me maintain my voice thru lots of rough sessions. Having a great vocal coach can also help you expand while helping to prevent any injuries. I highly recommend a proper vocal coach or speech coach to anyone that wants to take this career seriously.

How did you get started as a VO actor? What was your first gig?

I got into the business through a top voice over actor friend, Robin Atkin Downes. Long story short, i had always been imitating Homer Simpson since The Simpsons first aired. I was about 10. Well, cut to me in my late 20s, and a big video game company was looking to cast someone to voice Homer Simpson for a video game. Well, Robin knew i wanted to be a vo actor, knew I can do a quite spot on Homer Simpson, so he recorded me, submit my audition… and i booked it!!! From there, the stars lined up, and perhaps, the top voice over agency in the world reached out to take a meeting. I owe my career to Robin for helping me, along with my wonderful agents for believing in my talent and giving me a shot.

How much time do you spend auditioning for new work?

My career is always based on the new stuff. Once Ive booked ‘that gig’, im immediately thinking about the next move, next step, next gig waiting for me. half my career is based on the work im currently doing, the other half is focused on booking the next excited opportunity. and they both take an awful lot of time, in the best of ways.

What gear do you use?

Uh-oh. nerd alert!!!! you opened up a pandora’s box with that one. shah! Ill keep it simple. I use an apogee ensemble into my apple tower, but I bypass those internal preamps to use different preamps, of which I have a small collection, neve, bae, api, avalon, and focusrite… my background is music, so each preamp has a different flavor to add to the music mix. For voice over, I tend to stick to using my api 3124+, or my avalon 373. I use waves plugins for compressors and eq’s, when im not using my rack stuff. As for microphones, I either use a u87, sennheiser shotgun mic (im forgetting the model), a neuman tlm103, or my trusty (and inexpensive) studio projects C3 (perhaps sounds better or just as good as any of the other mics)

What did it feel like the first time you heard your voice in a cartoon?

Honestly, I teared up and cried a bit. I couldn’t help but think of all the work I put into this career I love, how badly I wanted it. It was a childhood dream come true, I was just so proud of myself and what I had accomplished. It felt like I was in a dream.

How do you approach impressions?

Impressions can be very tricky. The first step, I’d say, is to know what your voice is capable of. Know its limits. Go as far out there as you can, try anything to create different sounds from your throat. Don’t be afraid to experiment. Once you get a good feel, what you can or cant do, the next step is having a good ear. Just listen to others, in detail. hear differences in speech patterns, pitches, tones, placement of peoples voices. Then experiment with mimicking others. Practice practice, practice.

What inspired you to peruse a career in voice over?

I had always watched cartoons. I still do. However, back in the day…ha!… I played a video game called Dragon’s Lair. It was an animated adventure game, basically a choose your own adventure cartoon. I remember playing that game over and over with my brother, watching and loving the cartoon and the characters in the game. I can remember going home, swinging my sword, and, unknowingly, mimicking the sounds of Dirk the Daring (the hero of the game) as I jumped, swung my toy sword, and pretended to be falling off cliffs. It was that point, I had my first thought of wow! I wish I was the real voice of Dirk. Which grew into wow! I wish I could do cartoon character voices. After Dragon’s Lair, I paid attention to cartoon character voices a lot closer.

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Favorite Tv show of all time?

The Simpsons. It’s a cartoon that I have grown up with. Starting when I was 10 or so, and I still watch it today… and new episodes, mind you.

Whats your guilty pleasure?

Lately? Facebook… i just mindlessly scroll down the page, liking and sharing pics and ids. I think its a way for me to shut my mind off, my mind is always on the go. It just puts me in zombie mode, and helps me relax. Oh, and eating Pizza, chocolate chip cookies and milk while I sit staring at my computer screen doesn’t hurt either! shah

Star Wars or Star Trek?

seriously?… no brainer. Star Wars. Jar Jar is my fav.    😉

Where in the world is Carmen San Diego?

I don’t know, but if no one can find her, and they need her voice… yeah, sure, ill give it a shot! hahah

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