Back in March, ACX and VO Atlanta 2014 teamed up to bring you our latest casting call. Dozens of fantastic voice actors auditioned for the chance to narrate stories from New Orleans Noir and Philadelphia Noir, and Audible Studios producers and Audible Editor-at-Large Susie Bright definitely had their work cut out for them picking the winning voices from such a talented group.
We’re thrilled to announce J. W. Wilburn and Raquel Lozano as the male and female actors cast for these reads!
Susie was impressed with J.W.’s ability to put himself into the time, place, and character of New Orleans Noir, saying of his audition:
J.W. has a beautiful voice, and he suited it to the period and place – turn of the 20th Century, Storyville era of New Orleans – with nice pacing. Valentin has to be a memorable character that you want to hear from again, and Jeff makes him come alive.
ACX Actor J.W. Wilburn
We caught up with J.W. and got his take on the casting call and his advice for burgeoning producers.
How did you get into voice acting?
I first heard about VO when I was studying Shakespeare in Oxford back in the summer of ’99. One of my classmates was a voice actor in L.A. and said she thought I would be good at it. She put me in touch with a VO friend of hers in NY who mentored me over the period of a few years, and helped me find my first VO class and eventually produced my first demo.
What made you want to audition for this casting?
I’ve always been a voracious consumer of audiobooks ever since I was a child, but the opportunities I’ve had to audition for them have been few and far between. So when I heard that Audible was sponsoring this contest at VO Atlanta, there was really no question that I would audition.
How are you preparing to voice these stories?
I’ve read both stories once already with no intent other than to experience them as a reader. Now, I’m beginning to think about the various characters in the stories, who they are and what I think they look like, what they sound like and how they behave. I’ll be taking notes on each character based on what the authors say in the stories, which will inform the choices I ultimately make about how to voice them.
What advice do you have for those new to voicing audiobooks?
Listen to as many audiobooks as you can! There are so many extraordinary narrators to listen to and learn from. As a beginner narrator myself, I will be drawing on the styles and techniques of narrators I admire to guide me through my first experience, and there’s no shame in that. As the famous saying goes, “Imitate, Integrate, Innovate.”
Susie bright picked Raquel because of her versatility, saying of Ms. Lozano
Raquel nails it. I love the way she goes back and forth between the character’s life as a Method-studying actress and a cold blooded killer. Sociopath young female, please!
Raquel also took the time to share some insight on her career and tips for up and coming VO’s.
ACX Actress Raquel Lozano
How did you find your way to the VO business?
I began my voice career as a singer. As a youngster, I always wanted to “do commercials” but I didn’t want to act in them – I wanted to “do the voices” in them! While I’d been singing very young, no one around me really knew anything about voiceovers or commercials. So after much digging and asking questions, I got my first chance on the mic in my senior year of high school. I was able to voice a commercial for a local community college, San Jacinto CC. I was hooked! The first time I heard myself on the radio, I was in heaven for a month. After many voiceover classes and some coaching, I secured an agent and began my journey into the voiceover world.
What made you audition to read these two stories?
Growth, opportunity, and a chance to bring a story to life. Like any professional worth their salt, I want to continue to grow and leave no stone unturned. I had done some volunteer reading for children and knew that I had a skill in delivering stories. I felt intimidated because I had never voiced an audiobook, so I knew I had to do it! I took a step back and remembered that I’ve studied singing, acting, and voice work for many years, and I felt I owed it to myself to test those skills in a casting like this.
How did you prepare to voice these stories/characters?
For the audition, I read the pages of the story a few times without voicing at all. Since I didn’t have the whole book I then had to imagine what came next. I really was excited and knew this story was going to get good just from what I had. Then I voiced the audition script once, to just get it out. Next, I really took my character apart. Who is she, What does she want? There was so much emotion in the audition pages, it gave me a lot to work with. And I worked hard to put myself in her shoes, to almost become her, so to speak. I voiced it a few times, went away and came back until I got to the “voice bones” of who I thought she was.
What advice do you have for those starting out in the VO/Audiobook business?
Ask questions, get training, and listen to a lot of examples. We have the luxury of internet these days, so take advantage of it.
Look for New Orleans Noir and Philadelphia Noir on Audible this June!